Job hunting in 2023?

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Imagine this, you get an email notification from the company you forwarded your resume to. The email reads “interview next week with Mr. Recruiting Officer, 3pm”. Now your head is spinning, so much to consider; what to wear, how to introduce yourself, will you bring up the question about salary? All key things to consider, but did you know that whilst your appearance is an important part of the interview, and your whole ‘why I want this job’ is an essential speech; there are multiple questions you will be asked in-between. These questions are critical and your answers are just as important, if dare we say it, more important than your dress code.

Did you also know there are seven, yes, seven different categories of interview questions you could be asked (this is not including different types of testing and the generic questions specific to your future contract). Within each category of questions, is an endless list of, well, you guessed it, questions. But, what are the categories and why are they so important? Why is it necessary for you to be aware of them?

Firstly, being prepared for an interview is vital! You want to have an idea of what you can be asked, so you are not thrown off guard.

There’s nothing worse than sitting there umming and ahing the whole time,
and not answering the question to your highest potential. Basically, bombing the interview.  

Secondly, if you understand why these questions are significant to the recruiter, you will have a different outlook as to why you are asked them in the first place. You can then appreciate the meaning behind them, thus, allowing you to respond in a more authentic and genuine way.

So, what are the seven types of interview questions?

These first two categories allow for a deeper insight to what you have outlined in your resume:

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Qualification-verification questions: As the heading suggests, this is to verify your credentials. Not many, but some companies may ask for your university results. This can be important for some key roles, especially if competition is high; this is one way to differentiate between two strong candidates. Other types of credential checks can be to determine how long you have worked for a particular organisation or for how many years you have worked in a certain industry. This is important for two reasons: 1. It shows your stability and loyalty (or lack thereof) to a company and role, and 2. It reflects your experience in the field.

Before the interview, remember your dates and timelines, as well as any key results you may have achieved.

Experience verification questions: These are similar to the credential questions, but solely based on your experience at hand. Whilst your resume would outline what your experience and credentials are, it is only just a summary. Your resume got you the interview, but now, it is time to dig deeper and find out what is the real truth and what was the smoke and mirror of duties outlined in your resume. So these questions will allow for a better understanding of what you have done, and what you know, in your career. An example of this type of question can be “what was your main role in this group project?”. It is not enough knowing you worked on a group project, it is important to know your function in that project. Perhaps you only did the research, when in reality, the company is looking for someone who had led the team.

Before an interview, make sure you review your experience and be up to date with all the tasks you have completed and your role in different work you conducted, whether it is solo or in a team.

These next three are very similar and do cross over in terms of the type of questions that are asked. For example, how you solve a problem can also demonstrate your behaviour towards and issue, as well a your opinion of said issue:

Competency-based Questions:These types of questions allow the interviewer to understand your past behaviours towards problem solving. For example, you may be asked “can you give me a time where you did not get along with a teammate? How did you overcome the issue?” or “how did you overcome a challenging moment in your last project?”.

How do you handle difficult situations? Do you breakdown, sweep it under the rug or do you handle it in a productive, constructive manner? This is vital for a company to understand your abilities for problem solving.

Opinion-based Questions: This is a mixed bag of scenario based questions, as well as getting to know your personality type questions – such inquiries could involve you being given a scenario, for example “what would you do if you realised you were not given all the information needed by the client to complete your sales proposal?”, “what are your top three strengths?”

At the end of the day, this is your opinion on yourself and how you would behave in a situation. Perhaps you know how you would behave from past experience, or perhaps you only have a sense of how you would behave. Regardless, this is a great opportunity to make you shine. Answer these questions in a positive, yet honest way.

Behavioural-based Questions: These are very important questions, because it shows the interviewer your response and behaviour to certain scenarios. They are basically “have you ever…” type questions. They can relate and interact with the competency-based questions. For example “Have you ever missed a deadline?” Yes? “What did you do?” or No? “What would you do if you missed a deadline?” In many ways, we see competency-based questions do cross over behavioural-type questions.

These types of questions are important because the interviewer knows what kind of person they need to fill the role successfully. Usually, past experience teaches them about who is the best fit. Understanding your behaviour and reaction to scenarios will allow them to know if you are the right person for the job.

These next few you cannot really prepare for, but, if you know how to handle these questions, you’ll be all the better for it:

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Brains teasers and case questions: Here they are not looking for a genius that knows how to multiply the square root of 235, however, if you do, wow, good on you! What they are looking for is an individual who is creative in their thinking.
They want to see how you can problem-solve.

It is one thing to say your approach, yet a whole other to demonstrate it live. It honestly could be as easy as asking for a pen and paper to write out your brainstorming to solve the issue. This simple act demonstrates more than you may know. It shows the interviewer your abilities to break down a subject, and how you process information to derive to an answer.

Here is a little story for you – this is almost a myth or some legend story amongst recruiters. Once upon a time, during an interview session, the interviewer asked multiple candidates what the weight of the Titanic is. Everyone either guessed or said they did not know. The person who got the job replied with this “I do not know, but please give me five minutes and I will go research, find out and let you know”. Why did this work? Because it showed this person was not trying to make something up and provide false facts, nor did they give up when they did not know the answer. They are able to admit to not knowing information, but also showed the ability to go out and quickly source information to solve a problem.

It demonstrated how the candidate would perform in the workplace – not ignoring a task they don’t know how to perform, or performing a task poorly because they have not taken the time to research how to do it right.

Silly-type questions: This can be literally as silly as asking what kind of sandwich you would be or what TV show best describes your personality. Whilst these questions really don’t have anything to do with the job itself, it does demonstrate your ability to think quickly on your feet and to see how creative you can be. There is no right or wrong answer, it is simply how quickly and creatively you can answer and your reasons behind it. For example, we would would be a club sandwich – why? because it is plentiful, tasty and looks good.

Happy job hunting,

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