Types of Interview Questions
Behavioral interview questions seek details about how you have behaved in a particular situation in the past. This may tell the interviewer a great deal about how you might respond in a similar situation while working for them.
A good method to use when answering behavioral questions is the STAR method. The STAR method involves a step-by-step approach to answering that isn’t necessarily a script but helps you tell your story by providing only the relevant highlights.
- S/T = Situation and Task – This section establishes a context for the story, denotes the challenges, and explains what is needed.
- A = Action – This is the heart and soul of the story. Here, you discuss the actions you took and the reasoning behind them.
- R = Results – Share your positive outcome here.
Tell me about a rewarding team experience.
Being part of a team is a big part of working in today’s business climate. However, not all teamwork experience has to be career-related. Use the STAR approach to the question and try to find a real-world experience in your life that will work.
Situation/Task: “In college, I was a member of a sorority that was attempting to raise awareness about domestic violence while simultaneously raising money for a local domestic abuse shelter.”
Action: “I co-planned a major event at our sorority house that included a play (written and performed by members of the organization) to raise awareness about just how widespread the problem of domestic violence is in today’s society. The event also included a donation drive for money, bedding, clothing, food items, and toys for the shelter. It ended with a dance, with all proceeds from ticket sales going to the shelter.”
Results: “Our sorority raised $11,000 for this worthy cause and increased awareness among women, and men, on campus about domestic abuse and options for help that are available to victims.”
Describe a tough choice you had to make.
This behavioral interview question is designed to help the interviewer understand how you think, how you make decisions, and how you operate under pressure.
Situation/Task: “In my sophomore year, I discovered my love of computer science. At the time, I was a business major, and had to decide if I wanted to transfer to the computer science program. I was well on my way to completing my credits for my business major, and knew moving would mean a hefty course load and working overtime to make up for the switch.”
Action/Result: “I ultimately decided to switch because I knew that my long-term career path would be in computer science, and I wanted to learn as much as possible. I had to work hard and give up a lot of social activities over the last year, but I know I made the right decision, and I am currently on track for a 4.0 this semester.”
In a case interview, you will be asked to resolve a question, situation, problem or challenge. Overall, the question aims to understand your thought process and logic. In many cases, there is no one right answer. The point is to think the answer through logically — not necessarily to arrive at a predetermined number.
How many gas stations are there in the US?
Understand the purpose of this interview question, which is twofold. The first is to determine how well you use your general knowledge to perform simple calculations that are as close to a “correct” answer as possible. The second is to illustrate how you think through a problem.
“I would begin with broad information. The population of the USA is nearly 320 million people. An average household has four people, creating approximately 80 million U.S. households, which typically each have two cars, meaning there are nearly 160 million vehicles.
Gas pumps are served by tanks that are filled once daily with between two and three thousand gallons of gas, and each station has approximately ten pumps dispensing about 30,000 gallons of gas per day.
Estimate that the average gas tank holds 20 gallons of gas meaning that to fill all the cars in the U.S. at once would require 3.2 billion gallons of gas requiring approximately 106,667 fueling stations.
Considering that gas stations often sell more than just gas and that we do not see massive lines for fuel, I’d increase that number by 50 percent to be safe and estimate just over 150,000 gas stations throughout the U.S.”
You MUST take the time to research the company and industry carefully before the interview. The interviewer is not expecting a monologue about the history of the industry and memorized key statistics. You have to show you understand current industry trends, who the players are, and any issues that will affect your job. Thorough research also demonstrates your interest in the job.
Read more about how to research a company or industry before your interview.
How will this internship help you meet your career goals?
With this question, your interviewer is interested in learning more about your career goals and your knowledge of the internship. Have you done your research to understand the organization and the internship program?
“This internship would allow me to gain some precious hands-on experience in the event planning industry. My goal is to find a full-time position as an event planner after my graduation next May. I know that working with your team will give me the opportunity to learn from the best and get experience working on events for prestigious and demanding clients. I am ready to work hard and pitch in wherever I’m needed.”
Graduate School Interview
Graduate school interview formats and questions will vary by program and institution. View sample questions and tips for preparing for graduate school interviews.
First impressions can make or break the entire interview. Always stand when greeting your interviewer. Smile, confidently shake the interviewer’s hand and show him/her that you’re excited to be there. Keep the interactions with all people you meet (not just the interviewer) professional and courteous. Your goal is to show the interviewer what type of employee you hope to be for them in the future. Visit the Day of the Interview for additional tips.
A panel interview is an in-person interview with more than one interviewer. If you are given the list of people that you will be interviewing with before the interview, research who they are and their positions within the organization. When navigating who to speak to in a panel interview, always begin your answer by talking to the interviewer who asked the question, then you can engage the other panelists (eye contact) throughout the remainder of your answer. Thank all panelists at the end of the interview and through a thank you email or card 24 hours afterwards.
Phone interviews are a common way for organizations to screen applicants to determine if they are interested in scheduling additional meetings or interviews. Make sure to find a quiet, private place where you can review your research notes and resume, take notes, and concentrate undisturbed for the entire course of the interview.
- Ensure that your phone has strong reception before the interview begins. Choose another location if necessary.
- Do a mock phone interview. Pay attention to tone, voice inflection and how your voice comes across. Avoid a monotone. Make sure that you can hear and be heard clearly.
- You will sound more professional when dressing for the part. Even if your interviewer cannot see your attire, professional dress will help put you in an interviewing mindset.
- When you complete your response, stop. You don’t need to fill in airtime. Note cards and your resume can be used for the main points you want to cover, and to highlight your experience and accomplishments.
- Don’t chew gum, eat food, or drink anything during the interview.
Pre-Recorded Video Interview
For a pre-recorded video interview, adhere to the guidelines above for video/digital interviews. Set up the recording equipment (webcam) or interview program ahead of time. If the interview system has a training function, make sure to use it to practice your responses. In a pre-recorded interview, you also need to be mindful of time limits to your answers. A mock interview and utilizing Big Interview can help you refine your responses to be concise and specific.
Video / Digital Interview
The same guidelines apply to a video/digital interview as an in-person interview. Dress professionally, be mindful of body language, smile and maintain good eye contact with the interviewer.
- Secure a quiet, private place to conduct the interview. Make sure that the space around you is well-lit, with no backlighting.
- Set up the recording equipment (webcam) ahead of time so you have time to test the image and audio.
- During the interview, look directly at the camera not the screen of your device. If you look at the screen, it will appear to the interviewer as if you are looking away from them.