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3 Types of Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Jun 14th 2019 11:06am

If you’re preparing for a job interview, it’s important to plan for all eventualities – including all of the different types of job interview questions you might be asked. This blog will outline three different types of interview questions and how you should structure your responses.

The three main types of interview questions are situational, competency-based and behavioural.

The purpose of situational questions are to give you the opportunity to display what your approach is when faced with different scenarios. This is your opportunity to present a previous example of how you have effectively handled different situations and what distinguishes your approach.

Competency-based questions are designed to test how you gave previously used the skills essential to the role you have applied for.

Whilst behavioural questions assess your character. In particular how you have previously approached a difficult or challenging situation. The function of this serves to identify how you would react in the future if this were to happen again.

It’s important to bear in mind that not all interview questions you’re asked will fall into these three categories. There is often some overlap in the way questions are asked, and therefore the way you should answer.

1. Situational job interview questions

Situational interview questions are based on specific scenarios that could conceivably await you in the new role. These can be difficult to answer, as you are required to think on the spot – which in itself is a skill the interviewer is testing you on. Answering these questions well can prove that you are willing to take the lead or ask for help, stay calm under pressure, and make positive choices that help you to overcome any situation you’ll be faced with in the job.

Before answering a situational question, take a moment to fully understand what it is you’re being asked. For example, is the interviewer looking for evidence of your time management skills? Do they want to find out how you manage conflict?

An example of the kind of interview question would be: “Describe a mistake you’ve made at work.”

2. Competency-based job interview questions

Competency-based questions are designed to test your specific skills and attributes. An interviewer who wants to know more about your technical skills, for instance, may ask how you used a certain system in a previous role. Competency-based questions are far less likely to be hypothetical, and will require you to draw directly on real-life examples.

Again, before answering, you should take a moment to think about and consider what exactly the interviewer is really asking or looking for.

An example of the kind of interview question would be: “Tell me about a time when you were required to use your creativity to solve a problem.”

3. Behavioural job interview questions

Behavioural questions are asked to assess how you would be likely handle any of a range of real-world challenges based on your previous behaviour facing a similar circumstance. Whereas situational questions look at how you would approach certain scenarios, and competency-based questions prove you have the skills required for the role, behavioural questions focus of whether you have the character traits the interviewer is looking for.

An example of the kind of interview question would be: “Tell me about a time you knew you were right, but still had to follow directions or guidelines.”

By familiarising yourself with these common types of interview questions, you will be able to better position yourself as a candidate who can be depended on to deliver an instant impact and make the right decisions. You’ll be able to show your value at the interview stage to an extent that wouldn’t be possible through the obvious ‘templated’ interview answers alone.



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