How Do You Actually Answer Interview Questions?

A strategy like the STAR format can be useful for behavioral and traditional questions.  Be sure to include specific information about the experience — this will help your repsonses to be more memorable and will also serve to support your experience. The percentages indicate approximately how much of your answer should be dedicated to each section. Situation: Give an example of a situation you were involved in with a positive outcome.  10-15% Tasks:        Describe tasks involved in that situation. 10% Actions:    Talk about specific actions you took (use strong action verbs!) 60-70% Results:    Discuss the results that followed. 10%

Types of Interview Questions

From the employer’s perspective, the purpose of an interview is to determine a candidate’s knowledge and skills, fit for the role, and genuine interest in the position and company or organization.

    • Technical Questions
      Technical questions help an employer decide whether or not you have the skills necessary to complete your day to day work. The technical questions asked should reflect the experience you’ve put on your resume, so, in a sense, this is an employer’s verification of what you’ve listed on your resume. Technical questions can incorporate drawing and sketching, coding, or even a written test. Here are some tips for answering technical interview questions: • Don’t oversell your skills. If you state you are an expert in something, expect to be asked expert-level questions. • Think out loud. Sometimes getting to the right answer isn’t as important as having your interviewer understand your thought process or approach to the question. • Take their advice. If you are offered a suggestion, take it or offer a very good explanation for why you don’t think it would work. Show them you can work collaboratively. • Ask clarifying questions. This can show them that you understand what else you need in order to solve a problem. • Manage expectations. If you tell them at the start that you don’t have a lot of experience in an area, they may make the questions easier and won’t be disappointed if you don’t provide a “perfect” answer. If you’re preparing for a coding interview, practice with Codebasil for free when registering with your @mit.edu email address — at least until the end of December 2021!
    • Traditional/Motivational Questions
      These questions can be broad to get at factual information about your experiences as well as subjective information about your interests and personal goals. They’re often used to determine your level of interest in the position or company you’re interviewing with, which is important because organizations want to make sure candidates will be engaged in the work they are hired to do. Here are some sample traditional/motivational questions: • Tell me about yourself? Why did you choose your major? • Why are you interested in our company/this position? • Tell me about your past work experiences/research.
    • Behavioral Questions
      Focusing on your actions and responses, behavioral questions can reveal insights into what you are like to work with. Your answers can show employers how you have interacted and communicated with the people around you, which can indicate whether or not you will fit in with the rest of the team. For example: • Tell me about a time when you demonstrated leadership. • Give me an example of a time you faced a challenge. How did you handle it? • Tell me about a conflict you had with a professor, labmate, or boss. Why was there a conflict? What did you do?
    • Case Interview Questions
      Case interviews are usually a component of the interview process for positions in consulting or business. In a case interview, the applicant is given a question, situation, problem, or challenge to resolve. The case problem is often a situation the interviewer has worked on in real life. Case interviews aren’t focused on the candidate’s proposed solution; rather, interviewers use the exercise to assess a candidate’s thought process and analytical skills. Some sample case interview questions include: • Should airlines sell fee services like travel insurance? • Estimate the market for light bulbs in Australia. • You are contacted by ABC Pizza to help them develop a plan for entering the home delivery market in a community where XYZ Pizza has the dominant position. As lead consultant to ABC, what would you do? Want more tips on case interviews and sample questions? Watch the LinkedIn Learning Module How to Succeed in a Case Study Interview.