Interview Questions

The questioning that occurs during an interview can happen in both directions, just like it does in everyday conversations.  The interviewer will have many questions about the job applicant's prior work experience, while the applicant might have questions about the job opening or the company's policies.

In this article, we're going to divide our interview questions into two sections.  The first will include questions that a job candidate might be asked during an interview.  The second section will include some questions to ask of the interview team.  As an added bonus, we'll throw in some of those famous Microsoft questions, as well as a short list to avoid asking during an interview.

Example Questions a Candidate Might Be Asked

During an interview, a job candidate might be asked some very technical questions.  Skill based and technical questions should be relatively easy to answer.  The more difficult interview questions are those that prompt someone to talk about themself in a more personal way.  The following is our list of four very common interview questions, and the factors to think through before responding:

Tell me why we should hire you?

This question often makes job candidates nervous about boasting.  An interview is not the time to be shy about the value you can bring the company.  This is the opportunity to talk about strengths.  Just be careful that you don't start "walking on water."

What do you think is your greatest accomplishment?

This is another example of a question that prompts people to start talking about themselves.  The key here is to be prepared with a fairly detailed story, from start to finish.  This is an opportunity to give the interviewer a good feel for how well you can communicate, and the ability to remember details.  A good story here can leave the interviewer with a lasting impression.

How many hours each week do you typically need to get your job done?

This type of question is sometimes used to get a feel for the applicant's work ethic.  Translating the above:  Are you a "9 to 5" employee, or are you willing to "go the extra mile" to get the job done?  Gaining some insight into an applicant's work ethic often helps a potential employer figure out how well they will fit in with their coworkers.

How long does it take you to make a decision?

This last example is a question that helps the interviewer to better understand how someone is going to behave at work.  People make decisions all the time, so getting a feel for the thought process someone goes through can help the hiring company figure out if someone is a good fit.

Famous Microsoft Interview Questions

Whether it is legend or fact, Microsoft is a company that's often associated with asking off-the-wall questions during an interview.  In reality, these questions are aimed at assessing the candidate's ability to think logically.

The following is a short list of riddles that are often associated with Microsoft:

  • How many gas stations are there in the USA?
  • How would you move Mt. Everest?
  • Why is a manhole cover round?
  • You have an unlimited supply of water and a 5 quart and 3 quart bucket, how can you measure exactly 4 quarts of water?

For some of these questions, there is a definitive answer.  For others, the most important factor involves the thought process used by the candidate to arrive at an answer.

Asking Questions During an Interview

There may be several opportunities during the interview to ask questions.  During the close of the meeting, the interviewer will usually ask the candidate if they have any questions.
If someone is really interested in working at a company, they should be prepared with several questions, for two reasons.  The first is that it helps the candidate to understand the company better.  The second reason is that it demonstrates to the interviewer an interest in working for their company.

Questions to Ask the Interview Team

If there is confusion about something a member of the interview team said earlier, now is the time to ask a clarifying question.  If all of those questions have already been answered, then here is a short list of questions to consider asking during an interview:

  • Can you tell me a little about the team members that I'd be working with?
  • What's the most valuable contribution I can make during my first 90 days?
  • What strengths do you see in me, and what possible weaknesses are you concerned about?

Phrasing the Question: Examples

The following are some hints as to how to go about asking a question.  There is an art to asking questions, and how the question is asked can tell the interviewer a lot about someone's thought process.

The single most important rule in asking good questions is this:

Make sure to ask an open-ended question.

If you don't know what an open-ended question is, here are two examples:

Based on what I've told you so far, do you think I can do the job?

This question is not open-ended, because the interviewer can simply respond with a "yes" or "no" answer.  Instead, the question should be asked in this manner:

Based on what I've told you so far, what questions or concerns do you have about my ability to do the job?

This second question will elicit the response you are looking for in the first place.  It is an open-ended question that creates additional dialog with the interviewer.

Questions to Avoid

We're going to finish up this article with examples of questions that should never be asked during an interview; for obvious reasons.  Some might seem funny, but they've all been asked before:

  • What's your company policy on leaving early or showing up late for work?
  • How many sick days do I get each year?
  • Can you tell me what this company does?
  • How many single women do you think there are in this building?
  • Does your break room have a television set?

These are just a small sample of the types of questions to avoid asking during an interview because they send the wrong message to the interview team.

 About the Author - Interview Questions - (Last Reviewed on March 16, 2016)