What questions are asked in the interview?
For applicants, a job interview often feels like an interrogation. Numerous questions are asked in the interview and anyone who wants a chance for the vacancy should give the right answer. That means stress and pressure for applicants who want to make the best possible impression. Good preparation is important, but you can only do that if you know what to expect. But which questions are asked in the interview? This can differ from recruiter to recruiter, but there are some classic and typical interview questions that you can definitely count on.
What are-the-questions-in-the-job interview aimed at?
The company has already received a first impression of candidates from the application documents. In a personal conversation, the aim is to consolidate this and get to know the potential new employee even better.
This is exactly why so many questions are asked in the interview. It’s not about torturing the applicant or making the interview the greatest possible challenge. For employers, it is important to make the right personnel decision and to hire an employee who contributes actively to the company’s success over the long term.
In order to find out as much as possible about you and to be able to assess whether you are the best person for the vacancy, the HR manager asks a corresponding number of questions. These can be classified into some classic categories:
Questions about qualifications
Here it is checked whether you have the necessary specialist knowledge to be able to cope with the advertised position and its tasks. Even if your résumé is available, it is possible that the content is either no longer available to the HR manager or it is checked to what extent your information corresponds to the facts. Anyone who ascribes a high level of competence in key areas to themselves but cannot assign important technical terms will be exposed.
Questions about the person
The core question here is Who are you? and the self-assessment of how you see and describe yourself. Typically, these questions are asked at the very beginning of the interview. Here you introduce yourself a little, tell about your career to date and state the most important points that the employer should know about you.
Questions about motivation
Employers are looking for committed employees who show commitment, pursue goals and advance the company. The motivation of the applicant is correspondingly important in the selection. These interview questions should clarify why you applied for this job and at this company.
Questions about the company
You will not only have dealt with the company for the interview. Nevertheless, you should refresh your knowledge and do some research. What distinguishes the potential employer, what is the company known for. Don’t just rely on your own information on the company’s website, but also follow the daily press to find out about possible takeovers and mergers as well as additions to the product range.
Questions about personality
All qualifications are available and the motivation is right – if it doesn’t fit on a personal level, there will still be big problems. HR professionals are therefore also interested in the applicant’s personality, strengths, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies. Interview questions aimed at this should ensure that the new employee fits into the team.
Questions about the working method
Companies are also interested in – How do you work? Are you particularly good at organizing large teams and large projects? Or do you prefer to work alone in a concentrated manner before the results are compiled in a team? HR managers are looking for employees whose way of working fits their daily tasks and the rest of the team.
Questions about goals
Elementary for HR managers also the question of whether an applicant would like to commit to the company in the future. What plans and long-term goals does the candidate pursue – does he have visions that are in line with company policy or does he just want to use the company as a springboard?
What questions do applicants need to be prepared for?
As an applicant, you would probably wish that HR managers would send you the questions for an upcoming interview in advance. But even without such a list, you can prepare very well for the interview questions. The good news, many of the questions asked of candidates keep recurring and can be found in almost every conversation.
While there is no one hundred percent guarantee that a different and more unusual question will not be asked, there is a high probability that you will encounter at least some of the typical interview questions.
So that you know what to expect, we have put together some particularly popular examples from the categories already mentioned above:
Typical interview questions. About qualification
- What distinguishes you for this position?
- Which programs / applications / processes have you used so far?
- What know-how do you have for the advertised position?
- In which comparable jobs have you already worked?
- How do you educate yourself in this area?
Typical interview questions. About the person
- Can you tell us a little about yourself?
- What is your career path so far?
- Why exactly should we hire you?
- Why are you the right person for the job?
Typical interview questions. About motivation
- What are your goals in your new job?
- Why did you apply to us?
- Why did you quit your last job?
- What is your biggest motivation for your new job?
- Why haven’t you found another position?
- What do you bring with you that others don’t?
Typical interview questions. About the company
- How do you feel about the fact that from now on we will only produce in Europe?
- What do you think of product XY?
- How do you rate the industry’s development opportunities?
- What do you think of the competition?
- What would you change on our website?
Typical interview questions. About personality
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Name three positive qualities your ex-colleagues would say about you.
- What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made so far?
- Where do you see the greatest potential for conflict in a team?
- How would you describe your character?
Typical questions in the interview. About the working method
- How do you imagine the ideal workplace?
- What do you attach great importance to at work?
- How do you react to difficulties?
- What was the last big project you successfully completed?
- How do you convince others of your ideas?
- What do you do when you realize that you cannot meet a deadline?
- Imagine having to give negative feedback to a colleague. How do you go about this?
Typical interview questions. To aim
- Where do you see yourself in three / five / seven years?
- What does the perfect job look like for you?
- What challenges do you want to tackle?
- In which areas of your work do you want to train yourself?
- What changes do you expect in your field of work?
How do I convince with questions in the interview?
For you as an applicant, in the end it is about convincing the interview questions, making the best impression and hopefully helping to ensure that the HR manager offers you the vacant position.
But how do you manage to convince even with tricky interview questions? We have put together some tips to help you:
The be-all and end-all of being able to confidently and convincingly answer the interview questions is good preparation. The more thoroughly you have dealt with possible situations and specific questions, the more confidently you can react to them in an emergency. This reduces stress, improves your answers and helps you make a convincing appearance.
In preparation, it is essential that you think about your motivation, your benefits for the company, but also about the company itself. You should be informed about the potential employer, know the industry and work areas and know how the company is positioned.
A common mistake: please don’t memorize answers to interview questions. In the conversation, that seems anything but authentic and credible. Think about how you could react to various questions in the interview and then react as naturally and relaxed as possible.
If you want to convince HR managers, you have to appear self-confident, focus on your own strengths and qualities and not put your own light under a bushel. Humility is a personable trait, but interview questions are not a good time to show it.
Of course, you shouldn’t be exaggerating, self-centered and arrogant. But a healthy self-confidence can be quiet. Remember: You present yourself as a sought-after specialist, as an ideal person and as an asset to a company. As such, you can emphasize the benefits you bring to the employer.
You should absolutely refrain from belittling your own achievements. You are welcome to mention the involvement of former colleagues, but it should always indicate that it is your successes.
During the interview, people often talk about the past. What were your previous stations? What experiences have been gained? What services did you provide? All of this is important and shows that you have the necessary qualifications. But in order to be able to answer all questions in the interview really convincingly, you should look to the future.
Most companies are looking for long-term employees. Recruiting is time-consuming and expensive, so employees shouldn’t change again after a few months. Describe your ideas that you want to implement in the company and what plans you are pursuing in the company over several years.
Which forbidden-questions are possible in the interview?
If you are asked questions like the examples above, you just have to “work through” them and everything goes as it should – if the answers are convincing , nothing stands in the way of an employment contract.
However, it can happen that you are asked questions that have no place in an interview. These are those that are part of your private life or those that ask about religious or political convictions.
- Are you pregnant?
- Do you want to have children in the foreseeable future?
- Are you gay or straight?
- What does your partner do for a living?
- How often have you been sick in the last year?
- Is your family rich?
- Are you in debt?
- Are you good with money?
- Are you religious?
- Are you a member of a political party?
- Are you a union member?
- Have you already been convicted of an offense?
- Have you ever been to jail?
It must be mentioned that the questions and your answers to them depend on the respective context . The rule of thumb is that these questions should not be asked.
Exception: Unless they are in a professional context. Pregnant women are seen as particularly worthy of protection. Pregnant women are not allowed to perform certain tasks.
These include those that are physically strenuous and those that could be dangerous. If a pregnant woman applies for a position as a chemical laboratory technician, she will have to answer truthfully . The same applies, for example, to a person who has been convicted of substance abuse and applies for a job at a pharmacy.
How can you deal with illegal questions?
Most important maxim: Always stay polite. Even if you are seething inside and would like to answer “You mustn’t ask that” – giving in to this impulse is not necessarily the best option. Why?
Very simple: As a rule, employers (especially HR managers in larger corporations) know very well which questions are allowed in the interview and which are not. The fact that you are still being asked unauthorized questions usually indicates a psychological trick or a test: How does the applicant react?
This question is exciting because, especially in positions with customer contact, there can always be situations that you cannot assess in advance. A calm, serene reaction is the best choice in most cases. On the other hand, those who get out of their skin with unjustified questions in the interview may not have a grip on customer contact.
So how can you answer? In this particular situation, you can resort to the white lie. In contrast to clear false information – such as a fake résumé – the white lie about inadmissible questions is allowed in the interview.
So simply answer with no or whatever answer the HR manager would like to hear to the question in question. However, you should assess: Was this question a test? Or is there something else behind it? Are you sure you want to work for this company? Of course, you always have the option of leaving the room . In that case, however, it is also clear that another candidate will make the race.
What are stress-or-spontaneity questions?
Depending on the intention of the HR manager, questions of stress or spontaneity can fulfill a similar function to forbidden questions in job interviews. The applicant is subjected to a stress test . Of course, the aim is not to torture the candidate for as long as possible, but to get another impression of whether the good first impression is also true in a personal conversation.
A distinction can be made between the following types of stress questions:
- Trick questions , for example: How do you react to criticism from others? What do you do if you make a mistake?
- Brainteaser , for example: How many Smarties fit in an SUV? What day is tomorrow if the day before yesterday was the day after Monday?
- Analogy questions , for example: What animal would you be if you could choose a species? How do you rate your performance so far in this conversation?
- Funnel questions , for example: Tell us a little bit about your last project. Who was involved? How big was your part in it? Did it bring the desired success?
- Provocation questions , for example: Did you go to school? Tell me something about yourself that I don’t know yet.
How can stress issues be dealt with?
If you have just felt safe, stress questions usually tear the applicant out of his comfort zone .
The last two examples mentioned above can be tough. Funnel questions start harmlessly , usually something from your last job is asked. But then the HR manager digs deeper with his questions – and you should also be able to delve deeper into the matter.
Those who have embellished their résumé a little too much will get into a tailspin at such points. Very important, therefore: Always stick to the truth! If you are asked for reliable figures for a project that you have managed, you should have them at hand.
The provocation questions were also mean. Strictly speaking, the latter are not questions, but statements on which a comment is expected. Mostly something is used that is controversial or particularly important in terms of social reputation. For example, if you have not yet gained any experience abroad, although this is now standard in your field of study.
Decisive for stress-related issues such as overall: Keep calm, don’t let yourself be drawn out of reserve. For the majority of questions, there is no such thing as a right or wrong . Brain teasers or guessing questions do not aim at the correct end result anyway. Rather, companies want to be able to understand which solution the applicant is choosing and why.
The same applies to questions of analogy. Of course, you should think about how you will answer it and in what light the answer will appear. A Tyrannosaurus Rex as the preferred animal species may not arouse sympathy , even if you actually want to symbolize strength.