Home > Careers, Employment > “Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or 1 horse-sized duck?” – Different types of interview questions

“Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or 1 horse-sized duck?” – Different types of interview questions

When you are invited to an interview your first reaction is likely to be one of excitement and rightly so. To get through to this stage of the recruitment process means you have not only seen off a host of other candidates, but that you have also demonstrated to the employer that you have the potential to do the job on offer.

Unfortunately this excitement is often short lived closely followed by nerves kicking in; thoughts of nightmare interview questions, what they may ask you and how you can best perform begin to creep in and detract from your initial achievement. But fear not help is at hand, read on to find out about the most common types of interview questions and how best you can prepare to answer them.

Information Questions: Often these initial questions, whilst intended to break the ice and get the conversation flowing, can be intimidating due to their open and broad nature. When asked ‘Tell me about yourself’ the interviewer is not looking for your life story, rather a few key pieces of information you feel are appropriate to the situation e.g. the course you are graduating from and the career you seek to pursue. Consider why you are interested in the company and the role; the best answers will have specific reasons with an explanation of why that is important to you rather than a long list.

Behavioural/Competency Questions: These are the most commonly used kind of question and are often prefaced by ‘tell be about a time you have shown your ability to…’ Make sure you are well equipped to answer this kind of question. Spend time revisiting the job description and isolating the skills required for the role and then think of a specific time you have previously demonstrated this skill. Common skills you are likely to be asked about include: teamwork, communication, customer service and problem solving. You can ensure you give a full answer to this kind of skill based question by utilising the STAR technique: Situation, Task, Action and Result. Find out more about this by reading our CareerHub resource here.

Situational Questions: These questions can be based on what may happen on a job, to assess a situation and to provide solutions on how you would handle it. This will often involve demonstrating problem solving ability. A good approach is to consider a time you have dealt with a similar situation and to use the STAR technique to explain how this approach could work in the proposed scenario.

Technical Questions: These questions can be used to assess candidates for technical or specialist graduate job positions such as those in IT, Engineering and Science. Not only do they assess your technical knowledge but your approach to problem solving and ability to communicate. Prepare for questions that relate to specific knowledge about the company’s technical activities, or technical work required within the role, and for questions about work completed as part of your degree course (if this relates to the job applied for).

Random Questions: You may have heard stories from friends or family of curveball questions being used in interviews. Questions about fighting ducks or what kind of animal would you be and why aren’t actually all that common, however they can really confuse candidates when they do come up. Consider why they are being asked. It is often to see how you cope with the question and how you demonstrate the reasoning behind it. Probably not the best time to reveal your Anatidaeophbia, but instead show your reasoning ability. Perhaps you would be a Lion to show your leadership ability or a Bee as you work hard and like being part of a team.

Finally why not practice your interview answers using Interview Stream – it is an online resource to help you improve your interview technique. It allows you to video yourself answering some of the most popular interview questions connected to the role or sector you are applying for.

You can also find a wide range of resources to support you with all aspects of Interview preparation via CareerHub.

Helen Meyer Photo

Helen Meyer is a Careers Advisor in the Careers, Employment and Enterprise Service at the University of Hertfordshire

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