Preparing for an interview is nerve wracking – even if you’re an old hand at it – but knowing what to expect in advance can help you on the path to success. While no two interviews will be the same, in the technical space there are two types of questions you can anticipate and prepare for in advance – technical and behavioural questions. So, let’s take a look at what that means.
This refers to the type questions that delve into your personality. In the context of a job interview, these are questions that gauge who you are, how you respond in different situations, what your skills and experience are, and how you behave in the workplace.
Examples of behavioural questions:
- Tell me about a time you dealt with a tricky customer, and how did you handle it.
- How do you handle tight deadlines? Give me an example of that.
- Tell me about a goal that you’re proud of and how did you go about achieving that goal?
How to prepare:
A Google search for behavioural questions will come up with a bunch of results, and it’s really a case of picking ones that are likely to be relevant to your industry and experience. Reading and responding to the questions aloud will help you become efficient at forming answers in real time, while writing answers down may be an alternative that helps you get your thoughts straight so they are fresh in your mind on the day. A great strategy for this is the STAR method, which helps you to give your answers structure.
Technical questions, as the name suggests, are designed to gauge your technical knowledge. However, the scope of these questions can be broad and the interpretation of this depends on the organisation, your level of experience and if job specific skills are sought. At a graduate level, you’re more likely to see questions relating to algorithms and data structures that you studied during your degree. If you’re applying for a more senior role, then the questions will likely tap into the work you’ve done and be designed to draw out details of your technical experience and knowledge.
How to prepare:
You’re in luck in this case, because the last 3 or 4 years at uni has already taken you a long way to being ready! However, if you’re not one to rest on your laurels, then you can put some extra time in to preparation with online programming and algorithm portals, or by preparing with books such as ‘Cracking the Coding Interview’.
Non-technical Technical Questions
Guess what? There’s also a third category of questions, which we’ve dubbed the ‘non-technical technical questions’. Now, you’re probably wondering what does that even mean?! These are behavioural questions masquerading as technical questions. They will often have a technical bent, but they are essentially problem-solving questions that are designed to assess how you think on your feet, how you work your way through a sticky problem and how you respond to feedback.
How to prepare:
Preparing for these types of questions is a little trickier because this is about assessing how you react under pressure. The good news is that you already have the skills to handle this because ultimately this is about being yourself. Take a dep breath, think about how to break the problem down to find a solution, and start explaining your process to the interviewer.
When a business asks you in for an interview, it’s worth remembering that they’re investing their time in you – and your interviewers are hoping that you’ll succeed. If you feel like a question is tripping you up or you didn’t understand what was asked, ask them for clarification. They can rephrase the question so that you have a chance to deliver a solid answer that will help them understand more about you.
You’ve got this!
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