When it comes to being interviewed for a job, feeling nervous is inevitable. The impression you make on the interviewer can determine whether or not you receive a job offer. So it makes sense if you’re nervous, it means that you care!
To avoid letting your nerves fully take control of your interview, preparation and practice is essential. There is a lot to take into consideration when preparing for an interview. Thus, we’ll break it down into a 3 part series.
In this first part, we’ll be covering the best tips and practices on how to prepare your responses to common interview questions.
Make sure to download our free worksheet with practice questions
(Photo Description: Two women in a job interview)
Preparing Responses to Common Interview Questions:
Unfortunately, knowing exactly what you’ll be asked in a job interview is impossible. While it is possible to get some hints about it, there is no guaranteed way to know which exact questions you will be asked.
Instead of getting overwhelmed and trying to practise your response to 100 different potential questions, try preparing for general question themes. By preparing for general themes, you’ll have material you can adapt and use no matter what question they end up using.
We’ll go over four general areas of questions you may be asked about: questions about yourself, your past experiences or hypothetical situations, about the company and/or position, and lastly, questions to ask the interviewer yourself.
1. Questions About Yourself:
Probably the most inevitable question about yourself is the classic open-ended question of “Tell me about yourself”. There are a couple of methods you can use to prepare a response to this sort of question.
One way to structure your response is by breaking it down into:
- Who You Are Professionally: introduce yourself professionally. Say the title of your current role or an overarching statement of the kind of professional you are.
- “I’m a third year university student studying computer science and am currently interning at Microsoft.”
- Your Highlight Reel: name 2–3 points that make you stand out based on the role you are interviewing for, with more emphasis on recent accomplishments.
- “I'm one of the top students in my year, and have already developed two of my own personal projects.”
- Why You’re Interviewing For the Job: finish off with explaining why you’re interested in the position and company you’re applying to.
- “This opportunity caught my attention because your company’s mission aligns to my own professional interests, and I believe the opportunity will help me continue to develop my skills while challenging me to learn how to apply them in a professional setting.”
Another way to think about this response structure is thinking of your present, past, and future. Who you are professionally covers where you’re currently at, your highlight reel covers your past accomplishments, and why you’re interviewing for the job covers what you are hoping to be your future.
(Photo description: Young man talking at a job interview)
2. Questions About Past Experiences or Hypothetical Situations:
The ultimate goal of the recruiter who is interviewing you is to determine if you match up to the profile of their ideal candidate. An interview is one of many measures they can use to assess your qualifications and compare them to the company's requirements.
To get an idea of the strength of your abilities, for example to determine how adaptive you are, interviewers usually use so called behavioural questions and puzzle questions.
Behavioural questions ask the candidate about past experiences where they had to utilise a certain ability. When testing for adaptability, they may ask you: “What do you do when what you are doing isn’t working out?”
Two popular ways to structure your responses to behavioural questions are: STAR Method: Describe the situation, explain the task, describe the action you took, and the positive result of your actions. CAR Method: Describe the challenge, describe the action you took, and the positive result of your actions.
To prepare for these types of questions, read the job description carefully and try to think back on experiences you can draw from to demonstrate how you have the qualities they are looking for.
On the other hand, puzzle questions ask the candidate about how they would behave in a given situation. For example, “Suppose you were given a project that required you to learn a new skill. How would you start?” These types of questions are good for when someone doesn’t seem to have experiences to draw from.
To judge your responses, recruiters use a response rating scale, where they will compare your answer to aspects that demonstrate flexibility such as, troubleshooted their problem, asked the correct person for help, or showed determination.
To prepare for these types of questions, look into the details that would make a great response to questions about the qualifications of the job. For example, if the job description says they are looking for someone who has strong team-working skills, adaptability, and is a problem solver, research the keys for demonstrating those qualities in your answers.
(Photo Description: Two women in a job interview at a cafe)
3. Questions About The Company Or Position:
These types of questions are used to gauge what kind of employee you’ll be, whether you’ll be a good fit for the position and company’s culture, and if you’re planning on sticking around if you're hired.
For these types of questions, it’s important to do your research. Incorporate what you learn about the company or the position itself into your answer.
Be as honest and positive as possible, and especially highlight the positive impact you plan to make in the role. If asked about your future plans, answer in a way that makes the job you’re applying for seem like the right next step for your goals.
Where it can get a little trickier is when you’re asked about your salary expectations. There are two ways to answer questions about salary. One is to do your research and give a salary range that works for you. If your range is flexible, you can mention that depending on what other benefits are included in the job, you’d be willing to go lower.
Another way to answer salary questions is to try flipping the question back at them and ask if they have a salary range for the role. That can give you something to start with whether you were expecting a higher or lower offer.
4. Questions To Ask The Interviewer:
The last type of questions you should be preparing for are actually the ones that you will be asking yourself. At the end of most interviews, the interviewer will ask you something along the lines of “Do you have any questions you would like to ask?” It may seem that the interview is over, but this last part is also used to assess your qualities.
Not having any questions for the interviewer can come off as having a lack of interest in the position. Make sure to use this as an opportunity to show how passionate you are about getting this job, but also as a way to determine if the job and company are a good fit for you.
To come prepared, make a list of questions you have about the job or company. Make sure to have various questions prepared, as some might get answered throughout the interview.
Things you might want to consider asking about include: the next steps in the interview process, aspects of the job, aspects about the company, or goals the company has.
(Image Description: Two business people shaking hands and smiling)
Get Support In Your Budding Tech Career:
Career management can take a lot of effort if you’re trying to figure it out on your own. Starting a new career is challenging enough, so why not get some support along the way? At Code Labs Academy, our bootcamps include personalised career support from the day you register. We’ll help you through every step of your career journey, from reflecting on your career goals, different methods of job hunting, networking, and everything in between.
Whether you want to learn Python or learn UX/UI Design, we offer fully remote and hybrid learning options of either full-time or part-time bootcamps. Book a call with us to see which bootcamp would be best for you and how it can help you break into tech.
We also host free workshops every month ranging from popular topics in tech to practical career advice. Sign up to get an idea of what learning with us might be like.