When you go into a room for a professional interview, you can expect to encounter a broad range of questions from behavioral to downright odd. You may not be able to anticipate everything you will be asked, but you can get a good idea of what kind of inquiries you will encounter if you gain some familiarity with the position. Look over the job description carefully and take note of the character requirements. For example, do you need to be organized, a team player or work well under pressure? You can safely bet your hiring manager will ask questions to see if you embody the qualities the company needs in an employee.

You are not just interviewing for a position. If you were, the hiring manager would only be interested in you being capable of performing assigned tasks. However, a great working environment often consists of individuals who work well together. As such, the hiring manager also needs to know how you will fit within the company. Because of this, it will also help you in your interview if you research the enterprise and its practices. This will give you a better idea about what kind of answers the hiring manager is looking for.

There are many types of interview questions and you can often expect to encounter thought-based queries. The purpose of thought questions are to gain insight into how you think, make decisions and analyze. Knowing why an inquiry is posed will more than likely help you form a suitable answer because you know what points to cover in your response.

Examples of Common Thought Questions

Before you step into a room, make sure you practice answering thought questions. To do this, gather a small group of friends and/or mentors and have them ask you questions from a complied list. If they feel so inclined, they can ask you off the cuff questions, which will help you be prepared to think on your feet. After this mock interview, have a discussion about your responses, what you did well and areas you can improve upon. Here are some examples of common thought questions:

  • What are your career goals?
  • What motivates you to achieve success?
  • What changes would you make to your university?
  • What changes would you make to your most recent job?

    • What were your favorite classes in college? Why?
  • What was your favorite aspect of your last position? Why?

    • Who were your favorite professors? Why?
    • Who was your most valuable mentor? Why?
  • Where would you like your career to be in five years?

    When you compile your list of potential questions, be sure to gather common interview queries from your industry. For example, if you were once a computer programmer and are now transitioning to a teaching position, the types of questions you’ve encountered in the past might not be asked at all. Be sure to pick questions that are most relevant to your position, company and industry.

    How to Answering Thought Questions

    Of course, a strong answer to this type of questions will be thoughtful. When you encounter these inquiries, take a moment to think about your response. Do you want to use an anecdote? Is it more prudent to give a shorter or longer reply? If you have a multifaceted question, make sure you address all points of the query in your response.

    As you answer, you don’t want to give a completely self-serving reply to a thought question. Of course, whenever you can do so naturally, you should show how you are a great candidate for the company and mention the benefits you bring as an employee. However, try not to make it too obvious. Hiring managers will pick up on when you are just bragging or simply straying off topic.

    Keep in mind why you are in the interview room answering thought questions. You want to get a specific job with that company. Thus, make sure your answer caters to the position. You may have a powerful anecdote about how you managed a long-term project, but if you are going into a faster paced environment, it is more meaningful to speak about experiences that required quality snap judgments. Remember, formulate your response to show how your abilities align with what the position requirements as well as what the company needs from an effective employee.

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