Most Commonly Asked Interview Questions and Tips to Answer Them
It takes a great deal of effort to crack technical interviews at FAANG and other Tier-1 companies.
It goes without saying that you need to put your best foot forward while convincing the hiring manager that you are the best fit for the particular role. Besides domain knowledge (technical know-how and hard skills), FAANG interviews also test your behavioral skills. How well you can communicate, your confidence, self-awareness – every bit plays a part in making a great impression.
To acquaint you with the most commonly asked interview questions along with the best answers, we’ve compiled this detailed post. Don’t miss the tips - they will help you come up with stronger responses.
Here's what this article will cover:
- Types of Interview Questions and Tips to Tackle Them
- Technical Interview Questions and Answers
- Technical questions for beginner-level roles
- Non-technical Questions and Answers in Job Interviews
- Behavioral Interview Basic Questions and Answers
- Situational interview questions
Types of Interview Questions and Tips to Tackle Them
Common interview questions can broadly be grouped under Technical, Non-technical, Behavioral, and Situational. For your ease, we’ve categorized them, and also handed effective tips to help you craft unique replies.
Technical Interview Questions and Answers
Candidates applying for positions in the tech industry (engineers and scientists) will have to appear for technical rounds at companies. Job aspirants preparing for coding interviews need to prepare themselves for technical proficiency tests as well as situational assessments. While the former enables an organization to gauge technical ability, the latter allows them to analyze your problem-handling skills.
Whether you are a beginner or a professional with several years of experience, you’d have to appear for a mandatory technical interview round. You may be asked questions based on your technical education or your past experiences. Avoid providing a standardized reply – craft a unique answer that best depicts your interest in IT and your capabilities.
Technical questions for beginner-level roles
If you are just starting out, you need to ‘know the theories’ by heart. Since you’d have no prior work experience to talk about, your interview would be based on your academic knowledge.
Below are a few common questions for this round. Use the suggestions to craft convincing answers.
- Name the programming languages you have learned. Which one are you most familiar with?
Tip: Let the interviewer know of any particular project you completed using that language or if you got hands-on experience in using it during your internship.
- How would you troubleshoot a crashing program?
It isn’t surprising that most technical interview rounds either begin or end with this question. An IT professional is expected to know the simplest tricks to troubleshoot malfunctioning or crashing programs. Pick inputs from your experience and apply the theoretical (programming) knowledge you learned in school.
Tip: Preferably, provide two examples to showcase your knowledge and troubleshooting aptitude.
- How can you debug a program while it’s being used?
The best way to attempt an answer is to have clarity on the question posed for you. Do not assume; rather, ask for the exact issue and program details to come up with a convincing answer.
Tip: In this particular case, your familiarity with debugging strategies can help you provide the answer. Also, if you are comfortable using debugging tools, mention that as well.
For entry-level candidates, technical interview questions are relative to professional training and certifications. So, expect a few questions at least around this.
Some of them could be:
- Do you have technical certifications? What are they?
- How do you keep up with the emerging technologies?
- What qualities/ strengths are important to this position (the one you’re applying to)?
- What is your field of expertise? What would you like to learn more about and how?
Technical interview questions for seasoned IT professionals
It definitely gets tougher here.
As a seasoned professional not only will you have to showcase your deep understanding of the fundamentals but also your expertise in applying simple solutions to complex problems. Sign up for advanced programming courses, undergo training to hone your skills, and study coding concepts to boost your technical interview preparation efforts. The idea is to learn new technologies and stay abreast.
Some common questions in this genre include the below:
- What are your key competencies? How relevant (do you think) they are for this job?
- What’s the difference between pessimistic and optimistic locking?
- What is Eclipse used for? Have you used this tool?
- What are your experiences of using Visual Studio?
- Which is more preferable – service-oriented or batch-oriented solutions?
- Describe the role of SMNP.
Technical Interview Tips
Tip 1: To pass a technical interview with flying colors you need to showcase the right mix of hard and soft skills. Also, more than simply stating what you learned or how you’d approach a particular situation, be prepared to also recall instances where you did what you’re stating. Pick up real-life examples where your technical knowledge helped speed up project delivery or fix bugs with ease.
Tips 2: While answering questions, ensure that you highlight your reasoning abilities. Even if you don’t have the skills to fix every issue, you must know where to find help. Let the interviewer know that if you were to be stuck in a specific position, you’d refer to online resources or take help from experts around. This will let the interviewer appropriately gauge your collaborative efforts and see that you’re keen to find a solution. Customize your answers to show that you are a problem-solver and not someone to give up easily.
Tip 3: Be methodical while answering questions and stay calm and confident. Let the interviewer know why you chose a particular approach. Explain how you went through multiple approaches and arrived at the best one.
Tip 4: Don’t jump to answer if you aren’t clear with the question. Ask for additional information or let the hiring manager know that you don’t have the answer. It wouldn’t be a good thing to not know the solution, but by being honest you will give the impression of one who admits his mistake or lack of knowledge. It will also display that you are interested to learn.
Tip 5: No matter how impressed you may be with the office building or how irritated you were with the traffic situation on the way – stay focused. Pay attention to the questions being asked and take a pause before answering. You want to make a good impression, don’t you? Avoid getting overwhelmed with situations that aren’t in your control.
Non-technical Questions and Answers in Job Interviews
Irrespective of the industry, most organizations test candidates to see how well they fit into their culture. Through the non-technical round, hiring managers assess personality traits of candidates – communication skills, problem-solving attitude, the eagerness to work with the company, and awareness of the brand. It’s also used by interviewers to gauge a candidate’s self-awareness level. Be familiar with your CV; the interviewer can base several questions on it.
To be able to make your mark in this round, do your homework well. Research the company you’re applying to, recall a few instances to highlight your soft skills, and craft a convincing reply to answer why you’re interested in the position and organization.
Questions about ‘you’, ‘your resume’, and ‘career goals’
- Tell me about yourself.
- Let’s discuss your resume.
- How would you describe yourself?
- Discuss your educational background.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Tell me about an accomplishment, you are most proud of.
Avoid going from point to point as is already mentioned on the resume. Mention your hard and soft skills by demonstrating small accomplishments. Mention your ability to handle clients or eye for detail as strengths rather than simply describing yourself as ‘a dedicated worker’. Mention a weakness such as ‘not comfortable giving presentations’ or ‘public speaking’ and reveal how you’re working on it. It’s ok to have weaknesses; nobody’s perfect.
Also, it is better than saying “I don’t have a weakness” or “I am a perfectionist”.
- Are you willing to travel?
- Are you willing to relocate?
- Would you work holidays/weekends?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
- What are the things your former manager would like you to improve on?
- Why was there a gap in your employment between [X date] and [Y date]?
The best way to answer such questions is to prepare well ahead and avoid being on the spot. It’s not unnatural to have a gap in your employment history. It could be due to family, health, relocation, or simply a long-extended vacation. The point is to be articulate while stating the reason and not fumble.
Sure, you may not like working holidays and weekends but you can definitely accommodate an urgent client delivery. Be true to yourself but avert a chance where you’d be seen as inflexible. Consider that relocation and travelling also bring in perks. They facilitate meeting new people, collaborating with new team members, and expose you to a new culture and environment. Job descriptions generally mention travel and relocation if the role requires. If these don’t excite you, you should ideally not apply for the position.
- What motivates you?
- Why should we hire you?
- What are your career goals?
- What are your salary expectations?
- What can you offer us that someone else can not?
Align your salary expectations and career goals with the learning and exposure you’ll get by joining the organization. Don’t give vague answers such as ‘I don’t know’; rather, mention the advantages of being a part of such a culture as your goal.
Sample: Statements such as “Your <product service=""> is so promising that I am excited to play a part in its success story” or “I was happy to learn it from your employees that this company is one of the most employee-friendly organizations” can do the trick here. Your career goals and motivation sources should display you as a professional that’s keen to learn and grow. Also, they should ideally depict your long-term plans and not a short one. Avoid stating “I am interested to join you so I can save enough money for my next vacation”. </product>
- Do you have any questions for us?
When asked, most candidates end up saying ‘No’—relieved at finally arriving at the end of the interview. However, if you want to show yourself as a strong candidate, keep one or two questions handy. Refrain from asking questions on the information that was already shared with you during the course of the interview. Rather, ask about your position, the next hiring steps you should follow, or about the company’s culture. This will show your interest in the company and the job, and put you in a better light as compared to others.
- Questions pertaining to the organization
One of the most important assessments in the non-technical interview round is your knowledge about the organization. Through this round, organizations gauge your excitement to join them and whether or not you’d be the right fit. Before appearing for this round, find out about the company, their competitors, their products and services on the offer, and the position that you are applying for. Visit their website and browse other online (and offline if possible) resources to gather more information.
Here’re a few common questions that candidates are asked in this round.
- Who are our competitors?
- What is the name of our CEO?
- What interests you about this role?
- How did you hear about this position?
- Why are you interested in working for us?
- What would you look to accomplish in the first 30 days/60 days/90 days on the job?
As you can see, you’d only be able to answer these if you knew about the company well. No, bluffing wouldn’t work here – only genuine awareness. To break the monotony, aspirants can also be asked to share their reasons for moving jobs.
- Why are you looking for a new job?
- Why do you want to leave your current company?
The key to answering such questions is to handle them carefully while avoiding making a negative statement. You may be tired of your current nagging boss or feel stagnated in your position. Nonetheless, revealing your sentiments as-is will showcase you as bad-mouthing your current organization and co-workers. Rather, focus on the positives of the new role, company, and work environment. Mention a skill that you’d get to develop by joining a new place or the exposure you’d get by working in a different vertical/ function. Even if you have to let the interviewer know about your experiences, refrain from disclosing too many details.
Behavioral Interview Basic Questions and Answers
The third interview type on our list is behavioral assessments. Companies are interested in learning about your past behavior and your reactions to particular situations. Your answers would provide them a sneak peek into your skills and help them see if you possess the qualities they’re looking for.
To gauge behavior and personality traits, hiring managers ask candidates to recall past experiences where they handled particular situations (and how). This may or may not relate to technical skills. Team handling abilities, empathy, and a knack for taking prompt and sound decisions – candidates are judged in all respects.
To offer a comprehensive reply, use the STAR method. Mention a specific Situation, the Tasks in the pipeline, the Actions you took, and the Results you achieved.
The only way to prepare for behavioral assessments is to prepare ahead and thoroughly. Ensure that you keep a few instances handy to share with the interviewer. This round is all about your past experiences – keep the data (situations you faced), statistics (measurable outcomes), and your learning (non-measurable outcomes) handy. Answer in short and avoid describing a person/situation negatively.
If the position you are applying for requires you to possess exceptional leadership skills, be prepared to answer questions such as:
- Are you a leader or a follower?
- What are some of your leadership experiences?
- How do you set goals and define processes to accomplish them?
- How would you fire someone?
The structure of the questions will provide you the hint that your hiring manager is trying to determine your leadership abilities. Share instances that depict your management skills. Quantify the outcomes and you’d (already) drive ahead of your competitors.
Questions to assess your teamwork and collaboration abilities
- How do you handle pressure?
- Share an instance of conflict at work.
- What are your co-worker pet peeves?
- What would your direct reports say about you?
- Tell us about a time when you disagreed with your boss.
- What keeps you motivated? How do you keep your team motivated?
Apply caution while answering such questions. You don’t want to be viewed as an unreliable or impatient person, do you? It’s common for conflicts to occur in workplaces where there’s a lot of competition and everyone is trying to prove their dexterity. However, refrain from bad-mouthing anyone or fabricating stories to show that you’re a great team player. Chances are that the reality would come to light during background checks, making it a messy affair.
Narrate instances where you found solutions or showed to your team that a particular job could be done differently without compromising on the quality. You can also share your experiences when you created smaller and achievable goals to accomplish a difficult task and thereby kept your team motivated. Focus on keeping your answers short and mention the strategies that helped you drive desired outcomes.
Questions to test your problem-solving skills
- Tell us about a time you made a mistake.
- Tell us how you handled a difficult situation.
- Tell us about a time when your project failed.
- What were your bosses’ strengths/weaknesses?
- If I called your boss right now and asked him about an area that you could improve on, what would he say?
It’s imperative for professionals appearing for job interviews for senior-grade positions to display outstanding problem-solving abilities. Revisit your past experiences and pick specific instances where you handled a difficult situation or a client successfully. Focus on the strategies that were helpful. You can also share your learning and how you plan to apply them, should similar situations arise in the future.
- Assessments to check your analytical skills and creative instincts
Even the most technical task can be done creatively. The way you plan and organize, the execution approach, and your likes and dislikes – each aspect can showcase your methodical aptitude. So, while answering the below be specific about what interests you and why.
- What was the last book you’ve read for fun?
- Walk us through your hobbies?
- Name your favorite website? Why is it your favorite?
- What makes you uncomfortable?
- What do you like the most and least about working in this industry?
Your interviewer may also want to assess your level of commitment and perseverance, particularly if you are applying for a customer-facing profile. Through your answers to the following questions, he/she will figure out if you’re consistent and committed to delivering, even if it meant walking the extra mile.
- Would you work 40+ hours a week?
- How would you deal with an angry or irate customer?
- Give a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.
Answer such questions by highlighting your flexibility and negotiation skills.
Situational interview questions
Situational assessments on the other hand are tests wherein the interviewer will create a hypothetical situation and ask for your responses. This can range from testing your troubleshooting abilities to analyzing client-handling skills to gauging your proficiency for negotiation.
Similar to behavioral tests, situational assessments too allow interviewers an insight into your problem solving and strategic planning abilities. The only difference between the two is that situational assessments are more specific to your knowledge and its application than to your personality. Your answers will highlight your core skills and the ability to perform tasks better.
Situational interview questions and tips to craft winning answers
For senior-level roles, the hiring manager would be interested in gauging your technical skills. To answer such questions, focus on the outcomes and mention how it helped the organization to reduce costs/ improve processes/boost performance. The key is to prepare ahead and keep a few instances handy to share. Also, mention the measurable benefits by quantifying the outcomes.
A few sample questions can be:
- Mention a few significant improvements you implemented to an IT infrastructure. How did you implement them?
- What’s the most effective way to gather user and system requirements?
- How did you modify your presentation to explain technical details to a non-technical audience?
- Where do you focus most when reviewing somebody else’s code?
Situational questions can also be related to your learning and your intention to apply it in future instances. These questions are raised to gauge your willingness to try resolves other than the ones you already know. To score in this round, remember to express yourself as a continuous learner and someone who is motivated to acquire competencies and fortify the skill-set. Questions can be based on the assignment or instance you were provided with (during the interview).
- How would you do this differently if I gave you more time?
- What would you do to prioritize work amid strict deadlines?
- What did you find most challenging about this assignment? Name the resources you used to complete the task.
- Did you use [X] software in a similar project in the past?
- Describe the timeframe and your specific contribution to the project.
- What did you learn from the project?
Situational interview questions are best answered by showing how you turned around a negative experience into a positive one. Learning from that experience and describing how you put it into practice is what recruiters like to know. The catch is to focus more on the positive outcome than on the negative attempts.
The best way to prepare for any job interview is to prepare ahead. Practice mock interviews or situational assessments with friends and make note of the instances that you’d like to mention. Keep your answers crisp and quantify your results.
Wish you the very best for your next big interview.