job interview

Questions to ask in an interview

When you are invited to an interview you already made the first step, congratulations. So the company is interested in you and based on your performance in the interview they will decide whether the process continues or not  – so take it very seriously!

1. Preparation for the interview

Of course you need to do research about the job, the company and the industry trends. But you also need to prepare potential questions you might be asked and have the answers ready for it.


2. Questions about professional qualifications

In almost every interview, questions are asked about technical skills. The main question is how well applicants are suited for the job advertised. For example, the question is asked:

  • Why are you the perfect candidate for the job?
  • What knowledge do you have for the advertised position?
  • Which programs/tools/procedures have you worked with so far?
  • What relevant knowledge and skills have you already acquired during your studies and internships?
  • How do you keep up with the latest technical developments?

Here it is important that you have the job advertisement right in your head. In addition, you should inform yourself about specialist questions in your specific field of work in order to be able to answer specialist questions.

3. Questions about motivation

In addition to professional qualifications, employers are also very interested in the motivation of applicants. Is it really the dream job for applicants or just an emergency solution? You should be prepared for these questions:

  • Why did you apply for this position?
  • What do you expect from this job or from the company?
  • What goals are you pursuing with this job?
  • Why did you give up your previous job?
  • What did you not like about your previous job?
  • How do you relate to our company, our products or our industry?
  • What do you know about us?
  • Would you be willing to move for the position advertised?

Make sure that, with all your motivation, you don’t start pulling your legacy over your former employer – otherwise your new employer might doubt your basic loyalty.

4. Questions about personal qualifications

Your potential employer is also very interested in whether your personality profile matches the requirements of the job. Typical questions are, for example:

  • How do you organise your work?
  • What were you responsible for in your old job?
  • How do you prefer to work?
  • Which characteristics do you think are particularly important for this position?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • How would your friends describe you?
  • What was your biggest mistake? What did you learn from it?
  • To which animal would you compare yourself?

No matter whether you apply as a consultant who is in constant contact with customers or as a web developer with little contact outside the company: You will always work in a team and in the selection process great importance is attached to the fact that you fit in well.

5. Question regarding your personality

If HR managers ask questions about your personality during an interview, it’s also about getting to know you and developing your character – which is often not directly apparent in the written application. If the questions become too personal, you don’t have to answer them. Instead, you can honestly say how you feel about the questions and that you would like to talk more about the advertised position. Examples of personal interview questions are:

Please tell us something about yourself

  • Where do you come from, where did you grow up?
  • Where would you like to be in ten years?
  • What hobbies do you have?
  • What is the best working environment for you?
  • What are you most afraid of?
  • Who are your role models?
  • How important is your family to you?

Stress questions

When stress questions arise, HR managers try to test your resistance to stress and your tolerance limits. For example, he will pick up a part of your CV and question it or criticize a point in your application. You will quickly notice these questions because they make you sweat and an answer is not that easy. Typical stress questions in an interview are, for example:

  • Why did you study so long?
  • Why have you already completed three internships and never been taken on?
  • Why do you want to change your job after only ten months?
  • Actually, you are over/underqualified for the job. Why did you apply anyway?
  • How do you rate your performance in the interview so far?

If you have stress questions, you should try to answer them confidently and as calmly as possible. An honest answer is important, but can also be glossed over. Don’t look too hard into your cards – the answer that you took longer for your studies because the parties were so good is honest, but will not go down well.

Brainteaser & Estimation Questions

Brainteaser or appraisal questions demand the impossible from you at first sight – you simply can’t give the right answer to some questions off the cuff, and some require you to think around the corner. This includes questions like:

  • Why are manhole covers round?
  • How much does Manhattan weigh?
  • How many children were born in China last January?

You can also expect practical tasks

  • Kill matches to get an equation right
  • Connecting dots with a minimum number of dashes
  • Supplement number series

Such tasks are primarily about testing how you approach difficult tasks. That’s why you drive best when you think out loud and look at the problem from different angles. Whether the answer at the end is 100% correct or not is secondary: Just keep calm, approach the tasks logically – and if you get bogged down, just show humor and you will convince. And of course, as a scientist or engineer you should be able to do mental arithmetic and think logically!

Catch questions

Related to stress questions and brainteasers are the catch questions – but a bit nastier, because they deliberately try to let you run into the open knife. What often sounds like small talk has tough intentions to elicit something from you.

“Why don’t you tell me something about yourself?”

Here the balance between sympathetic self-presentation and professional distance is important. So keep your hands off long private stories and spread information instead.

“Family or career, what is more important to you?”

As a career starter, you can emphasize that both are important to you, but family planning still has time. In five years’ time, you will perhaps make use of the flexible working hours in the company to reconcile family and work.

“What would you do if you didn’t have to work?”

A good opportunity to show how interculturally you travel or that you are looking for volunteer work – maybe you would like to build schools in Africa or write a book about your trip around the world. Lazing around and celebrating is definitely the wrong answer.

“Do you think you can assert yourself in a team of men?

I beg your pardon? If you start justifying yourself here, you’ve lost. The right reaction: A look directly into your eyes and a clear: “I don’t understand where the problem should lie. And then you bring examples where you have prevailed.

“Do you dare to take the strain?”

This question is usually asked when you have been ill for a long time. Here it is important to confidently say that you have overcome the illness and are fully operational again.

“What do you not like at all about colleagues?”

Don’t make fun of anyone, but instead say that you have always understood yourself very well with your colleagues and fellow students and of course there are some with whom you also had more to do outside work. That shows loyalty and openness.

“Are you willing to work overtime?”

Neither “Definitely not?” nor “Of course, always” is the right answer here. Better: You can stick to the deadline and complete your tasks within working hours, but of course you are also prepared to work an extra shift if necessary.

“How do you deal with criticism?”

No one likes to be criticized – HRl managers know this as well as you do. That’s why you can admit that you don’t like criticism, but still take it seriously and deal with it constructively.

Unauthorized questions in the interview

There are also things for which HR managers are not allowed by law to ask. Some recruiters still ask inadmissible questions. These include, for example:

  • Are you often ill?
  • Are you pregnant?
  • Are you a member of a political party?

You don’t have to answer these questions honestly, but can answer all three with a “no” – unless the question about your health is directly related to the job or you are clearly pregnant. Then you should discuss possibilities here.

Your own questions

At the end of the interview you will be asked again. If you ask your own questions, you show that you are interested in the company. It is important to prepare yourself well – if you ask first what the company actually does, you will be out very quickly. Concentrate on content issues before clarifying the general conditions – such as vacation days or salary. Good questions are, for example:

  • How does the induction process work?
  • How are decisions made in the team?
  • How big is the team in which I would work?
  • Which tools are used in the company?
  • What training opportunities are there?
  • Is there a long-term opportunity to take on responsibility and a team lead?
  • Where are the current problems/challenges in the work?
  • Which leadership style is cultivated?
  • Is the company committed to social issues, for example?
  • How would you describe the corporate culture?
  • How does the daily routine (in your department) typically look like?

These five questions, on the other hand, are less well received:

  • “How tolerant are you when you arrive too late at work?
  • “Can you recommend doctors for sick leave?”
  • “Can I use the telephone for private conversations?
  • “Are smoking breaks deducted from my regular break time?”
  • “Are you as tired as I am?”

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