I’m Glad You Studied FizzBuzz, But What About the Guaranteed Questions?

Every company takes a different approach to interviews, so without the benefit of inside information it is impossible to predict whether you might be subjected to a whiteboard session, a code pairing exercise, a written test, random Fermi questions (still a thing?), or a technical trivia game show focused on the minutiae of some framework or language. New graduates often find themselves in the trivia Q&A interview format, as interviewers unable to engage in conversations about accomplishments and experiences will gravitate towards questions testing knowledge or improvisational problem solving.

You can study linked lists and memorize FizzBuzz solutions in Python or your favorite Lisp to your heart’s content, but don’t forget to prepare for the handful of core questions that are extremely likely to come up during every interview (perhaps more than once).

What do you know about us? The subtext of this question may be as simple as “Are you prepared?” or more directly “Is there a reason you think you might actually want to work here, or are we just another potential offer letter for your collection?“.

What are your salary requirements/how much are you currently earning?Whether you choose to answer these questions is a hotly contested topic today, but you need to have a prepared answer in order to prevent potential disasters. I’d imagine at least one-third of the negotiation advice I give my career coaching clients stems from their fumbling of an answer to a question about money during a live interview. Even if you intend on trying to avoid the question, have a strategy in place for when you are asked.

Why are you looking to leave your current job (or last job if unemployed)? This can be a litmus test to see if you are the type to complain about an employer or it can be used to identify potential performance problems.

What type of work do you most enjoy doing? The company doesn’t want to hire employees to do things they loathe — at least not as their primary function.

What are your career goals and professional ambitions? It’s the “five year question” without the cliche, but they want to know if you’ll be happy in the role they have available or if you might be looking for the first chance to move up.

Tell us about a time when _______… Experienced candidates will hopefully have gained some insights based on their past successes and failures. Candidates should be prepared with a handful of anecdotes, which should include both points of pride and regrets.

Studying for tech questions will account for most of the interview preparation time of many candidates, but don’t forget to consider these questions which are non-technical but likely to be asked.

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