Job Interviews Questions: Types of questions

Job Interviews Questions: Types of questions
Behavioural questions
Behavioural (experience-based or patterned behavioural) interviews are past-oriented in that they ask respondents to relate what they did in past jobs or life situations that are relevant to the particular job relevant knowledge, skills, and abilities required for success[47][48] The idea is that past behavior is the best predictor of future performance in similar situations. By asking questions about how job applicants have handled situations in the past that are similar to those they will face on the job, employers can gauge how they might perform in future situations.[49]
Behavioural interview question examples:.
  • Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
  • Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to use your presentation skills to influence someone's opinion.
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
One way individuals can prepare for behavioral type questions is to practice the STAR method. The STAR method is a structured manner of responding to a behavioral-based interview question by discussing the specific situation, task, action, and result of the situation you are describing.
Situation: Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. This should describe specifics rather than general descriptions of past behavior.
Task: What goal were you working toward?
Action: Describe the actions you took to address the situation with detail and focus on yourself. What specific steps did you take and what was your contribution?
Result: Describe the outcome of your actions. What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? Make sure your answer contains multiple positive results.

Situational interview questions
Situational interview questions[37] ask job applicants to imagine a set of circumstances and then indicate how they would respond in that situation; hence, the questions are future oriented. One advantage of situational questions is that all interviewees respond to the same hypothetical situation rather than describe experiences unique to them from their past. Another advantage is that situational questions allow respondents who have had no direct job experience relevant to a particular question to provide a hypothetical response.[49] Two core aspects of the SI are the development of situational dilemmas that employees encounter on the job, and a scoring guide to evaluate responses to each dilemma.[50]
Situational examples
  • You are managing a work group and notice that one of your employees has become angry and hostile in recent weeks, to the point of disrupting the entire group. What would you do? [46]
  • You are in a meeting. Your manager blames you for not doing well on a task, in front of all your peers and managers from other divisions. You believe that your manager is wrong in his critique, and that he might have come to this conclusion hastily without knowing all the information. You feel you are being treated unfairly in front of your peers. You feel that your reputation may be affected by this critique. What would you do in this situation?[51]
  • A general request has been issued by the Dean for someone to serve on a new joint government/industry/university committee on business education. The objective of the committee is to design the budgeting allocation for the Faculty for the next fiscal year. It is well known that you have the necessary skill and expertise to improve the chances that the Faculty will receive budget increases for future operations. You have been told that it will require 2–3 days per month of your time for the next 9 months. Your tenure review is one year away. Although you think you have a good publication record, you have no guarantee of tenure at this point. You are concerned because you have already fallen behind on an important research project that you are pursuing with a colleague at another university. What, if anything, would you do?[50]
  • You are in charge of truck drivers in Toronto. Your colleague is in charge of truck drivers in Montreal. Both of you report to the same person. Your salary and bonus are affected 100% by your costs. Your colleague is in desperate need of one of your trucks. If you say no, your costs will remain low and your group will probably win the Golden Flyer award for the quarter. If you say yes, the Montreal group will probably win this prestigious award because they will make a significant profit for the company. Your boss is preaching costs, costs, costs, as well as co-operation with one's peers. Your boss has no control over accounting who are the score keepers. Your boss is highly competitive; he or she rewards winners. You are just as competitive; you are a real winner! What would you do in this situation?[50]

Other types of questions
Other possible types of questions that may be asked in an interview include: background questions, job experience questions, and puzzle type questions. A brief explanation of each follows.
  • Background questions include a focus on work experience, education, and other qualifications.[52] For instance, an interviewer may ask "What experience have you had with direct sales phone calls?"
  • Job experience questions may ask candidates to describe or demonstrate job knowledge. These are typically highly specific questions.[53] For example, one question may be "What steps would you take to conduct a manager training session on safety?"
  • The puzzle interview was popularized by Microsoft in the 1990s, and is now used in other organizations. The most common types of questions either ask the applicant to solve puzzles or brainteasers (e.g., "Why are manhole covers round?") or to solve unusual problems (e.g., "How would you weigh an airplane without a scale?").[54]


47 Janz, T. (1982). "Initial comparison of patterned behavior description interviews versus unstructured interviews.". Journal of Applied Psychology 67: 577–580.
48 Motowidlo, S.J.; Carter, G.W., Dunnette, M.D., Tippins, N., Werner, S., Burnett, J.R., & Vaughn, M.J. "Studies of the structured behavioral interview.". Journal of Applied Psychology 77: 571–587.
49 Pulakos, E. D., & Schmitt, N. (1995). Experienced-based and situational interview questions: Studies of validity. Personnel Psychology, 48, 289–308.
50. Latham, G. P. & Sue-Chan, C. (1999). A meta-analysis of the situational interview: An enumerative review of reasons for its validity. Canadian Psychology, 40, 56–67.
51 Banki, S. and Latham, G. P. (2010), The Criterion-Related Validities and Perceived Fairness of the Situational Interview and the Situational Judgment Test in an Iranian Organisation. Applied Psychology, 59: 124–142. doi:10.1111/j.1464-0597.2009.00418.
52 Roth P. L., Campion J. E. (1992). An analysis of the predictive power of the panel interview and pre-employment tests. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 65, 51–60.
53 Arvey, R. D., Howard, E. M., Gould, R. & Burch, P. (1987). Interview validity for selecting sales clerks. Personnel Psychology, 40, 1–12.
54 Honer, J., Wright, C. W., & Sablynski, C. J. (2007). "Puzzle interviews: What are they and what do the measure? Applied H.R.M. Research, 11, 79–96".

Source: Wikipedia