Employers generally rely on one or two types of questions: behavioral and knowledge. Understanding the types of questions that an employer may ask will help you to prepare for your meetings.
In large or medium-size companies, it’s common to be interviewed by more than one person, and for them to have a list of questions ready. These questions often fall into a behavioral category and start with a phrase like, “Tell me about a time when…” Although it may seem like the employer wants to know a lot of your history and how you handle things, they are really considering your past behavior as a predictor of future behavior and how that could benefit them.
Common questions in this type are:
- Tell me about a time when a customer insisted on speaking to your supervisor.
- Tell me about a time when people you supervised were fighting.
- Tell me about a time when you had to stay at work late to prepare a report or presentation.
- Tell me about a time when your job duties changed without any notice.
- Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an employee who was rude or late for work all the time.
- Tell me about a time when you had more than three phone lines on hold and people waiting at the counter.
A great method is to use when preparing your answers is GOS, where you outline a Goal, Obstacles, and Solution. Here’s an example:
“We had a problem with serving customers on time (Goal), and we either left them on the phone too long when they wanted to order, or we had line ups that were so long at the counter, customers were leaving (Obstacles). To overcome the problem, I… (Solution).”
Detail how you overcame those obstacles, including figures or numbers whenever possible.
In other interviews, or combined with behavioral questions, you will commonly be asked knowledge questions. These often refer to things that you know or do in general.
These questions might start with: “Tell us what you know about…” They can be about your industry in general, advances in your field, big projects, changes in the economy, and so on.
In other interviews, you may be asked to prepare a presentation or audition for the interviewer to watch. This is common for people in artistic work (such as music, dance, art, and photography) as well as teaching, training, some computer fields, and the service industry (table setting in a big hotel, for example).