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Why to Prepare for the Interview?

Interviews are the most nerve-wreaking experience you will have during your pre-employment assessment. However much daunted you may feel by the tests you meet during your pre-employment assessment, passing a face-to-face interview causes even more stress, because there your behavior and answers are being subjected to unblinking scrutiny by your interlocuters. During the interview, you need both to deliver smart, crispy answers and sound composed and professional. Simultaneously, you need to appear engaging and positive in order to convince your prospective employees that you will be a strong asset to their company. Considering that some of the recruiters can come across as intimidating and unfriendly, succeeding on the interview is certainly not an easy feat.

You can, however, increase your chances of passing your interview with flying colors, if you prepare for it beforehand. Our sophisticated interview PrepPack™ contains valuable words of advice that will help you create a lasting impression on your recruiters. In the sections below, you will find the lists of the most frequently asked interview questions that are conveniently divided into several groups according to their types, from general to situation-based and narrowly technical. What questions you will receive depends on the kind of the interview and the goals and interview tactics of the recruiters.   

What Are the Types of the Interview?

There are four types of the interview applicants are invited to during their pre-employment assessment. Although some of the companies skip over some of the interviews, most of them administer the phone interview, the face-to-face interview, the panel interview, and, if they decide to conduct an interview in the Assessment Centre, also the interview as the final part of the assessment day.  Some recruiters may also conduct each of these interviews several times with different people. There are companies that interview a job candidate for as many as ten times.  

The Phone Interview

As a rule, the telephone interview is conducted by the phone by a Human Resources Representative. The questions posed during this interview concern your education and work experience. The Human Resources representative will walk you through your résumé, asking relevant questions about the projects that you completed during your studies or in the previous workplace. Expect also to talk about your career goals and the contribution you think you will make to the company’s development. In turn, the HR representative may tell you about the company’s mission, structure, and business aims. You can also discuss your possible salary and benefits. An alternative to the phone interview can be a skype interview that some companies prefer to make more accurate initial impression about a job candidate. Bear in mind also that some companies may ask you to go through several phone interviews not only with the Human Resources recruiters but also with your potential managers.

The Face-to-Face Interview

If you pass your phone interview and, in some cases, the subsequent testing with success, you will be invited for an in-person interview, usually in one of your company’s locations, branches, or in its head office. During this interview, you will have an opportunity to meet your potential employers face-to-face. Expect to talk to the Human Resources manager, managers of the departments where you may end up working, and several team leaders. Talking to your potential peers is also not infrequent on the in-person interview. Questions may be of several types. Prepare to talk about your education and work experience and elaborate on your career goals.

Other questions will be competency-based and situational. To answer situational questions more fully and correctly, it is advisable to answer them according to the STAR format. The word “STAR” in this case is the acronym formed from the initial letters of four words: “Situation,” “Task,” “Action,” and “Result.” The idea is that when you are asked a question about a challenging situation in your previous workplace, you need to describe it in detail so that your recruiters can appreciate the difficulties you faced when dealing with it. After that, elaborate on the task that you set yourself to fulfill to meet the challenge. Third, talk about the actions that you took to perform the task and about an alternative course that you decided not to follow. Explain why the alternative actions were less likely to yield desired results. The final part of your description of the challenging situation should be focused on results. Tell your recruiters what you have achieved and what you have learned from the situation under discussion. Summarizing the lessons that you have learned is crucial to show that you can draw appropriate conclusions from your experience. If you follow the STAR format, your answer to a situation question will be more comprehensive and detailed and will help your recruiters understand your personality and working patters more fully.

If the job for which you applied requires working with technology, expect also technical questions related to your field of specialization. Bear in mind also that when you are invited for an interview held in one of the company’s locations, you may have several interviews with different people, one following another on the same day; or you may have an interview in the form of a panel.

The Panel Interview

On the panel interview, you will have an opportunity to talk to several people simultaneously. As a rule, you will be interviewed by the Human Resources representative, your prospective managers, team leaders, and other employees of the company, all of whom will meet you in the same room and will take turns to ask you questions. This type of the interview may last up to an hour. Questions posed on the panel interview are similar to those asked during a regular face-to-face interview. Prepare to answer competency-based, behavioral, situational, and technical questions. You may also be invited to talk about your career goals and the contribution that you will make to the company’s development, if you are hired. In the next section below are listed questions that you may be asked on your upcoming interview.

The Assessment Center

It has recently become fashionable among recruiters to invite job candidates to the Assessment Center for a day or two to be assessed for their general aptitude for the applied position. Employers now begin to consider the Assessment Center a more precise evaluation method, much more accurate than tests and interviews. Invited to the Assessment Center, job candidates not only take tests there and have several interviews, but they are also engaged in different activities. At the Assessment Center, applicants usually give a short presentation and participate in group discussions and case studies. They also do role playing and demonstrate their skills and intelligence in various simulation exercises. While they are performing these activities, their behavior is scrutinized and evaluated by assessors. By the end of the assessment day, the assessors exchange their opinions about job candidates, giving them final scores.

There are many professional qualities that job applicants need to demonstrate to receive a high score. Among them are leadership and abilities to communicate well and solve problems quickly. Job-seekers should also show that they can work successfully in a team and know how to achieve productive, quick results. Competition among job applicants invited to the Assessment Centre is cut-throat. Applicants are eliminated at every stage of their assessment; as a result, not everyone reaches the final interview where a hiring decision is usually made. Because of the fierce competition, preparation for the assessment day is highly recommended. Practice with JobTestPrep’s exact test simulations and interview tips and increase your chances of rising above your competitors.

What Questions Are Asked During the Phone and In-Person Interviews?

Interviewers seeking to form an objective opinion about job candidates ask them several types of questions during the phone and face-to-face interviews. The most common types of these questions are the following:

  • General questions that seek to find personal information about candidates’ motivations and career aspirations.
  • Competency-based or behavioral questions that target a specific skill or competency. Candidates are asked about their behavior in specific circumstances.
  • Situational questions invite candidates to describe a challenging situation which they successfully improved.
  • Technical questions center on applicants’ knowledge of technical terms and tools and technical processes with which these tools are operated. Technical questions are usually highly specific, tailored to candidates’ area of specialization.

Read the examples of these types of interview questions in the sections below. Think them over and then formulate smart, winning answers to them. If you come to your interview armed with clever answers to recruiters’ questions, you will have more solid chances of producing on them a favorable, lasting impression. 

The General Interview Questions

  • Tell us about yourself.  
  • What would make you valuable to our company? 
  • What courses did you take in college that will help you succeed in your new position?
  • In what role would you eventually see yourself?
  • What do you know about the position for which you are competing? 
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • If you were in charge, what would you change in our company?
  • What are your daily activities at the current job?  
  • Why do you think you will fit our company?  
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What is your ideal type of a manager?
  • Why do you want to leave your present workplace?
  • If we contact any of your previous employers, what do you think they would say about you?  

To answer the general questions well, you need to walk through your résumé before you enter an interview room. Highlight the milestones in your education and career and think of the lessons that your learned at those points of your life. Think about your skills and personal traits that will help you succeed in your new role. You may find it useful also to browse the company’s website and read all available information about its mission, structure, and revenue, because some of the general questions will be about the company and your possible contribution to its development. Also, imagine the trajectory that you would want your career to take in your new workplace.

The Competency-based or Behavioural Interview Questions

  • Are you able to complete tasks with minimal supervision?
  • How do you handle disagreements or critique in the workplace?  
  • How do you handle difficult phone calls?
  • How would you deal with an irate colleague?
  • How would you resolve a problem with your manager?
  • What would you do on your first day if you get hired?  
  • Give us an example of a time when you led the team.
  • Tell us about a time when you solved a problem creatively in the workplace.
  • Tell us about a time when you failed to finish a project or a task.
  • Provide an example of when you gave above and beyond good customer service?
  • Describe a time where you were given feedback and you implemented it.  
  • Give me a time when you had to analyse something. What did you do and what did your findings entail?  
  • How do you explain to customers that they need to do something different?

Answering competency-based questions impressively requires the familiarity with the CAR approach. The acronym “CAR” is formed from three words: “Context,” “Action,” and “Result.” This format partially overlaps with the above-mentioned STAR approach. To follow the CAR approach, start talking about context; in other words, tell your recruiters about a specific working scenario, mentioning the place and time of its occurrence. Allude also to your co-workers participating in the event in question.

The second part of your narrative that focuses on the taken actions should be the most detailed and elaborate. Emphasize not only your personal impact on the situation but also the contribution of other team members, if you worked in tandem with them. It is also worth mentioning alternative courses of actions that you could have taken but did not, explaining why you stopped short of implementing them. In conclusion, highlight the results that you achieved after improving the situation in question. Tell your recruiters what conclusions you could draw from your actions and what you learned from the situation as a whole. Following the CAR format guarantees that you will impress your recruiters with your intelligence and preparedness to the interview.

The Situational Interview Questions

  • Describe a situation when you had to collaborate with a difficult co-worker.
  • Describe a situation in which you worked as a part of a team.  
  • Describe something challenging that happened at a job and how did you deal with it.  
  • Describe a situation where you took the lead.
  • Tell us about a time you had to multitask and how you handled this.  
  • Tell me about a situation in solving which you made an error and explain how you corrected it.  
  • Describe a situation in which you worked well alone. 
  • Describe a situation when you did not meet a goal or deadline.  
  • Describe your approach to making decisions and solving problems. Why do you do it this way?
  • Describe a project you successfully managed end-to-end. What challenges did you face and what did you do to overcome them?
  • Describe the work environment or culture in which you have experienced the biggest success.
  • Describe a time when you had to handle a task with little or no direction.
  • How much leeway do you give your employees to make decisions? How do you still maintain control?

The value of the situational questions lies in inspiring job candidates to bring up concrete examples taken from their personal work experience. In answering these questions, applicants reveal important information about themselves and effectively highlight those personal traits and skills that helped them solve real-life problems in their previous workplace. If the candidates follow the STAR format when they reply to their recruiters, they show them even a more comprehensive picture of their capabilities and talents.  

The Technical Questions

If you compete for a position that requires working with technology, expect to be asked technical questions pertaining to your area of expertise. By asking technical questions, recruiters try to determine how well you understand technical concepts and technical operations behind them. Here is a list of technical questions posed to applicants having training in different technical areas:

  • What experience do you have with FERC?
  • If you were replacing a large diameter pipeline in a commercial area, what considerations would you make to assure the pipeline was installed successfully?
  • How is stopping and terminating an instance different from each other?
  • How do you address cache coherency?
  • What is cloud computing?
  • Which algorithm does an Elastic Load Balancer use?
  • What is EBS?
  • What is TCP and UDP?
  • What is your experience with HPLC?
  • Create an algorithm that takes in a string and returns “true” if there are no repeating characters in the string, and “false” if there are repeating characters.  
  • How are Spring MVC architecture and Hibernate related? 
  • What is an EJB? What method starts a new transaction for an EJB?

To answer these and other technical questions correctly, you need to brush up your knowledge of technical concepts, tools, and operations before you set foot in the interview room. Your interviewers may ask you highly specific technical questions which will be difficult to answer if you did not go over the material recently. Do not lay your professional future on the line. Prepare for your technical questions with JobTestPrep’s practise materials, impress your potential managers with your knowledge, and become chosen for the applied position.

JobTestPrep specializes in helping job candidates pass their interviews with confidence and success. Our high-quality interview materials contain the most frequently asked interview questions that you can ponder, formulating clever answers to them. We also provide helpful tips on how to conduct yourself in your conversation with recruiters and inspire them to put you at the top of their list of the candidates for your desired position. Purchase our interview resources and sail through your interview easily and successfully. 

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