Interviewers use a variety of types of questions to better understand you, your motivations, and how your personality might fit with the organization.
: Many interviewers will begin with “ice breaker” questions and continue on with standard questions about your particular interest in the position and organization. Ice breaker questions like “Tell me about yourself” are meant to have brief answers that ideally lead the interviewer to understand why you are here at the interview. They may also ask you to “Take me through your resume”, which sets the stage for you to briefly highlight and expand upon the most important items on your resume as they pertain to the position. Make sure you are able to clearly articulate your answers to direct questions such as “Why are you interested in this position?” and “What are your greatest strengths/skills relevant to this job?”
: A number of questions will come directly from your resume and will focus on your education, experiences, and activities. Therefore, it is important to review your resume and cover letter so you can best prepare for questions that ask you to elaborate.
: You will be asked to describe real situations you have encountered in the past so that the employer can get a sense of how you might respond in future situations. Behavioral questions are all phrased similar to the following:
Tell me about your most recent group effort.
Describe a situation in which you had to use good customer service skills.
Give me an example of a complex problem you solved and how you accomplished that task.
Your responses to behavioral questions should be specific and structured. When asked about your most recent group work, for example, do not tell the interviewer about your general philosophy of teamwork; instead, pick a specific team project in which you were involved (it can be from a class, an internship, extracurricular activities) and describe what the team was and how many people you worked with, what your project or task was, how you specifically contributed to that team effort, and what the outcome was. It is not necessary to describe more than one specific example for each question.
: A case question is focused on discussing a real-life issue or problem that an organization has faced or might face in the future. They are most common in consulting interviews, but variations are found in other business interviews.
As part of case questions, you might be asked analytical brain-teasers or “market-sizing” questions (for example, “How many dry cleaners are located in Manhattan?” or “How many blue cars are there in the United States?”). You are not expected to get the “right” answer to these questions; rather, the employer wants to know what assumptions you will make and how you will figure out an estimate. This process is used to evaluate your analytical and critical thinking skills, the logic of your assumptions, and your ability to problem-solve or be creative in your thinking as well as your communication skills.
Case questions are more involved and usually take anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes to answer. Find more information at Vault
, and Case in Point: Complete Case Interview Preparation
(a copy is available at Career Services).