Four Classic Interview Questions—and How to Prepare for Them
Skilled job seekers know there are four general types of interview questions—and they prepare appropriately.
First, there are the resume questions. These relate to your previous experience, skills, job duties, education, upbringing, individual interests, and so forth.
Resume questions require reliable, objective solutions, since your resume consists of facts which often tend to be quantifiable (and certifiable). Try to prevent answers which exaggerate your success, or seem to be opinionated, vague, or egocentric.
Second, interviewers will typically want you to comment on your abilities, or assess your previous performance. They’ll ask self-appraisal questions like, “What do you think is your most significant asset?” or, “Can you tell me something that you’ve done that was notably innovative?”
Third, interviewers like to know how you respond to varying stimuli. Situation questions ask you to explain particular actions you took in the past, or require that you discover hypothetical situations that may occur in the future. “How would you stay profitable during an economic decline?” or, “How could you go about laying off 1300 personnel?” or, “How would you manage client complaints if the company drastically elevated its prices?” are usual situation questions.
And last, some employers like to test your mettle with tension questions such as, “After you die, what would you like your epitaph to read?” or, “If you were to compare yourself to any U.S. leader, who would it be?” or, “It’s evident your background tends to make you undoubtedly not qualified for this position. Why should we even waste our time talking?”
Stress questions are developed to evaluate your psychological reflexes, imagination, or attitudes while you’re under pressure. Since off-the-wall or confrontational questions tend to jolt your sense of balance, or put you in a defensive posture, the best way to manage them is to stay relaxed and give cautiously considered answers.
Remember, your sense of humor will come in handy during the whole interviewing procedure, just so long as you don’t go over the edge. I heard of a candidate who, when asked to describe his ideal job, replied, “To have beautiful women rub my back with hot oil.” Pointless to say, he wasn’t hired.
Even if it were attainable to foresee every interview question, learning dozens of stock responses would be impropable, to say the least. The best policy is to review your experience, your priorities, and your reasons for thinking of a new position; and to manage the interview as genuinely as you can. If you don’t know the best solution to a question, just say so, or ask for time to think about your answer.