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Interview Questions

Opening Questions

These are questions such as, “Tell me about yourself. . . ” For a question like this, observe the interviewer (or even ask) to determine how formal or informal you should be. An interviewer wants, to some extent, to find out about you as a person. This is important in evaluating how you are going to fit into the culture of that specific organization. 

Credential Questions

This category includes questions like: “What is/was your GPA?” or “How long were you at. . . ” or “How well did you do in your major classes?” Here the interviewer is trying to place some kind of measurement on your background.

Experience Questions

These are questions that relate to your experience and that allow an interviewer to subjectively evaluate your background. Expect questions such as: “Have you done this type of work before?” or “What did you learn in that class?” or “What were your responsibilities when you worked for________?”

Opinion Questions

Here, the interviewer is trying to analyze how you would react in certain situations. He/she could ask anything from “What are your biggest weaknesses?” to “What would you do in this kind of situation?” to “What kind of supervisor do you like to work with?” 

Company Research Questions

Did you do your pre-interview preparation? If not, look out! Interviewers do ask questions to determine if you did your homework. Expect questions for which the interviewer already knows the answers, at least to some extent. He/she may ask you, “Why do you want to work here?” or “What kind of salary do you expect?” or “What about our organization most interests you?” or “What kind of contribution do you think you could make to our pre-existing sales team?”

Dumb Questions

Depending on how non-traditional the employer is or how important creativity and problem-solving are to the position, you might find the employer asking you questions that seem absolutely off-the-wall. The real purpose of these questions is to see if you can offer an original thought and get past all of the pre-programmed, “correct” interview answers. You could get anything from, “What kind of animal would you like to be?” to “How many jellybeans do you think could fit in my office?” to “Who has most influenced you in your life?”

Behavioral Questions

Expect this type of question in almost any kind of interview. More and more employers are using this interviewing technique because of its high predictive validity. The interviewer will ask you things like: “When have you had to use quick thinking to solve a potentially serious problem?” or “What steps would you go through to perform this task?” or “When have you had to work in a team? What resulted from that teamwork?”

Personal Questions

Interviewers legitimately need some personal information from you. However, some personal questions are illegal to ask in an interview. This will be addressed in the next section. Some personal questions you should expect, and answer are ones like these: “How often were you absent from work/class?” or “When would you be available to begin working?” or “Can you explain this gap in your work history?”

Closing Questions

The interviewer now wants to get you out of his/her office and is wrapping up your session. Expect to be asked for references or samples of your work at this point. Also, have some questions which you can ask the interviewer as you close the interview. This is when an interviewer will give you a business card and explain what will happen next. Be sure to ask if anything seems unclear.

Illegal Questions

Ok. So, the interview is going smoothly, and then, out of the blue, there it is–the illegal question. What do you do? Keep your cool. Realize that most illegal questions are asked out of ignorance. The interviewer doesn’t know it’s illegal. Sometimes, the interviewer will ask, innocently, something like, “Marino, is that a Spanish name?” The interviewer is trying to make small-talk, but is crossing a line.

  • Evaluate what you think the interviewer’s motive is. Is he/she innocently asking something that is inappropriate or is he/she going to use your answer maliciously in a discriminatory manner? If they seem to be unaware of how inappropriate the question is, you can 1) answer it briefly and move on to something else, 2) ignore it altogether and redirect the conversation, 3) answer in relation to the position. Example: You are asked, “Do you have children? How reliable is your child-care?” You answer, “My child-care provider is very reliable and I have alternate arrangements in case of emergency. My children will not affect my work performance.” Or, you may be asked, “Are you married?” You respond, “Is that relevant to this position?”

  • If you think that the interviewer is using the illegal question to discriminate against you, then you should say something. If you are offended by the question, and think it is being used inappropriately, try to be as polite as possible given the situation and tell the employer that the question is illegal, offensive and inappropriate. If the situation warrants action, it is acceptable for you to say, “I’m sorry, but that question is offensive to me as well as being illegal, and I do not wish to continue our interview,” and then leave.

Resources

Interview Questions - Here you can find interview questions specific to the position you are interviewing for.