Key Tips

  • Numerous type of questions will be used in your interview. Some will require a simple yes/no answer (closed), others will push in a particular direction (leading). The ones you need to be mindful of are open-ended questions as these prove the most challenging.
  • A good interviewer will ask a question that is not necessarily leading unless they are seeking clarification about a particular point you have made. They will also avoid asking you multiple questions in the same question. However they are likely to delve deeper in to the answer you give to an open-ended question to clarify their understanding and to seek out whether you demonstrate the competence needed for a particular role.
  • Our Question Identifier Tool (QIT) assessment will help you to identify which competencies are likely to be assessed and provide you with the types of questions likely to come up along with answers to teach you what a good response looks like. Take our QIT now.

Interview Questions

Interview questions will vary between jobs and employers; however they all carry a very similar theme. Competency-based questions will ask you for a relevant example from a situation in the past. These are the most common type of question used in graduate and managerial interviews.

So, if ‘team working’ is deemed important to the role you are applying for, you may be asked; “Give me an example of a time when you have worked as part of a challenging team?”. Sub-questions asked later may include “What were the challenges involved?”

Example Questions for Common Competencies

  • Planning and Organising: “Tell me about a time when you have had to plan and organise a project or task?”

  • Communicating: “Give me an example of a complex piece of work that you have had to convey to a lay audience?”

  • Problem Solving: “Describe a situation from the past where you have had to resolve a work-related problem or query, to which you did not have an immediate answer?”

  • Influencing: “Describe a time when you have to persuade others to your way of thinking?”

  • Decision Making: “Tell me of a time when you have had to make a difficult decision at work?”

You should have a think about the type of job you are applying for and then decide what competencies are likely to come up. We strongly recommend that you use our short ‘Question-Identifier’ tool (QIT) and we will provide you with the questions that are most likely to be asked in your interview. Take the QIT now.

Types of Questions

Interviewers are advised to use competency-based questions in their interviews. In this section we cover the concerns associated with other types of questioning which Interviewers sometimes engage in. Thus, this sub-section is written with the interviewer in mind.

Closed questions – These types of questions should be avoided in competency-based interviews. The answers to these types of questions do not provide a detailed response of a past example which is what is often sought in assessment. Unless this type of questioning is for information collection purposes (administrative), these questions are unlikely to provide an interviewer with much value in predicting your suitability. For example, a closed-question could be “Did you find that difficult?” which would evoke a simple “Yes” or “No” response.

Leading questions – The other type of question to avoid is known as a leading question. This type of question can indirectly give guidance to the candidate in terms of what you are looking (or not) for. Using leading questions can be unfair as it is likely that some candidates may pick up on this more than others and as a result gain an unfair advantage. Alternatively, leading a candidate incorrectly would be unfair as the candidate may be influenced by the question and provide a different response due to the leading question and not on the basis of what they would normally have said. An example of a leading question is; “So your boss was happy with you”?

Multiple questions – These questions consist of a number of questions that are all asked as part of one question. For example “Give me an example of a time when you worked as part of a team, what was your role, what were the challenges involved, what did you contribute, and what was the outcome?”. This makes it very difficult for the candidate to dissect and respond to the question in a well thought out manner. The response may not be confidently attributed to any specific sub-question.

Open-ended questions – As such, the best types of competency based questions are ‘open-ended’ questions. These questions do not give candidates any steer per se, and do not encourage a limited response. In fact, these questions allow a candidate to talk freely about their past experience or examples whilst the interviewer can remain confident that they have not influenced their response.An example of an open-ended question is “Give me an example of a time when you have had to plan and organise a big piece of work or project?”

Want to know what questions are likely to appear in your interview? Complete our short ‘Question-Identifier’ tool (QIT) now and we will provide you with the questions that are most likely to come up, along with sample answers.



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