Other Types of Interview Questions

Questions Focused on Negative Experiences

Many different questions will try to get you to focus on a negative aspect of yourself or your experience. Another example of this is to ask about your greatest weakness(es). In asking these questions, interviewers want to understand how you dealt with difficulty and how you learn from your mistakes. To address these questions:

  • Make sure that the failure or weakness you mention is redeemable for the employer.  For example, if you are applying for a data analyst position but you admit that you struggle with statistics that could be a red flag for the interviewer
  • Consider too if you are emotionally ready to talk about a difficult interpersonal conflict; if you have trouble relating the experience objectively, then it’s best to choose other examples
  • End on a positive note like what good came out of the failure or what lesson you learned that you incorporate into your work and what steps you are actively taking to overcome your weakness

Detailed Follow Up Questions

Follow-up questions are asked to examine your involvement in your story,  test your understanding of your work and how your work connects with others, and to ensure that you are not overstating elements of the story for the sake of the interview. To address these questions:

  • be patient and see that the interviewer is doing their job of understanding your story more deeply
  • prepare for the interview thoroughly and think about  your story from different perspectives, such as different skills used or different projects undertaken

Asking for Multiple Examples

Another interviewing tactic is to directly ask for multiple stories around the same skill or experience. Interviewers using this tactic are looking for breadth. How many times have  you used this important skill? It’s first important to be patient and to know that the interviewer is not asking for another example because your first was not what they were looking for. Preparing for the interview by knowing your experiences from multiple points of view will help you more easily recall other experiences in which you’ve used that skill.

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