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Interview Methods and Sample Questions

With so many different companies and so many different interviewing processes out there, it may be challenging to come up with the “swiss army knife” of interviewing. However, there are many steps you can take to make sure you are as prepared as possible for interviews.

The format of your interviews is different for each company, but you should really do your homework and ask the recruiter what the format of the interview is like if they haven’t told you. This shows that you are taking initiative and demonstrating interest to the recruiters in that company. Furthermore, it does not hurt to reach out to your peers or people on Linkedin who have been through the recruiting process for that company for advice on the process.

Ideally, these companies want to see how you communicate your thoughts, whether or not you can take ownership, and gauge overall fit in their company.

For behavioral interviews, you should look at your resume and pick 1 - 2 experiences you are proud of to talk about during the behavioral interview. Bonus points if you incorporate STAR method and do some homework researching what the company does and its company values. You are your own advocate in this case. Make sure to always relate back to company key values (read their values). After all, it’s you who is interviewing for a job/intern position.

For technical interviews, interviewers want to see how you are able to approach a problem and see your problem-solving skills. You don’t need to be 100% correct on your solution, as long as you communicate your thought process with the interviewer is what matters.

STAR Method #

The STAR Method is one of the most well known methods in interviewing and is very effective if used properly. This method gives you a straightforward way of answering questions. For those who are not familiar with the STAR method:

Component Description
Situation Set the scene of your response which helps deliver the example. What you want to do here is to lay out the picture but not have too many details. Only include details that are necessary.
Task Describe what exactly you were responsible to do. Here, you want to list out some of the components that were part of your task. It is advised to describe the details of the task which are relevant to the current conversation and skills you can demonstrate.
Action What actions did you take to address the task. This is the place to show your contributions and being specific is good! This information is what the interviewer wants to know
Result What were the outcomes you achieved and what did you learn from it. The person interviewing you not only wants to see your achievements, but also want to see the final outcome and whether you learned anything from it. You always want to end on a positive note to leave an impression here.

Example Interview Questions #

While there are so many possible questions out there, the South Dakota Government has a great list12 of interview questions and sub-questions. Additionally, the University of Virginia has a great resource about the STAR method and a huge question bank as well3. All of these resources have questions broken down by type and are a great way to prepare for interviews.

Example STAR Responses #

However, we won’t just leave you with questions. We’ll also go over some sample responses and tips and tricks to craft responses on the fly during an interview.

Sample Question 1 #

Tell me about a time when you made a mistake. How did you manage it?

Sample Question 2 #

Describe a complex challenge you have had coordinating a project.

More Tips and Tricks #

While we can write pages upon pages about how to craft the best intervew resposne, what’s left is for you to practice and tell compelling stories. However, we can end with some tips:

  • If you need to talk about a negative experience, you never want to end on a negative note. Always find a way to spin the negativity and end on positivity
  • Before any interview, you want to choose a few different stories to prepare and have that can be applicable in a wide range of different topics. A story doesn’t have to be limited to just one topic. For example, a story about working with a team to address a challenge can be both applied to leadership, teamwork, and problem solving.
  • If it is a question you have an answer prepared for, don’t rush to an answer quickly. Instead, take a few seconds to think about it and try to deliver it in a more thoughtful way than you originally planned.
  • Take advantage of local career centers or online services that can provide mock interviews. This gives you a chance to practice your story telling skills in a more formal setting.