Question Types and Strategies

Traditional Questions

These questions are often open-ended and can encompass a range of topics.


  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What interests you about this job?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • What type of training will you need to get started in this role?
  • Why would you excel at this job?
  • What would you do in your first 3 months in this role?
  • What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
  • How would a former boss or co-worker describe you?
  • What did you like/dislike about your last role?
  • What do you like to do outside of work?

How to Answer

With open-ended questions, there are many possible ways to respond. Your best approach is to structure your answer so you avoid rambling and getting lost in your response, or feeling like you didn’t say the “right” thing. Two great strategies to structure your response include the List Method and the Timeline Approach.

List Method

Here you will select one or more points you would like to discuss and then elaborate on each. You can acknowledge that this is not an exhaustive list, but instead the most relevant themes, ideas, or standout point(s).

Timeline Method

This is a story telling technique where you pick a starting point sometime in the past, and work your way to the present and/or future by pulling out relevant points in a chronological manner (show image of process). This is a great strategy for weakness related questions.

Behavioural Questions

These questions are designed to elicit information about how you have performed in the past because past behaviour is a good indicator of how you will perform in the future. Questions generally access the traits, attributes and competencies necessary for succeeding the role.

These questions often begin with phrases such as: Tell me about a time when you; describe a situation in which you; recall an instance when you; give me an exmaple of...

How to Answer

Behavioural questions ask for you to tell a story from an experience in your past, which highlights a specific quality or competency you possess. A good story has multiple parts and doesn’t omit important details. The STARS acronym enables you to structure your response and outlines the key points that you should highlight, in the order they should be addressed. When using the STARS acronym, pull examples from work experiences, volunteer, activities, school projects, internships, etc. Remember to not use the same experience for every response!


Situation Setting the context for your story.


Task What was required of you?


Action What specifically did you do? And why?


Result What happened? Good or bad? Can you quantify the result?


Summary Did you learn anything? Is there a strength you possess that was a highlight in the story? How is this story relevant to the job you’re interviewing for? 

NOTE: Be careful when talking about other people in your stories, speak to specific actions as opposed to your judgements (e.g. instead of saying your co-worker was lazy, explain what gave you that impression – would show up late for meetings, wasn’t meeting deadlines for tasks, etc.).

Situational Questions

These questions establish how you would react to real-life situations. This type of question tends to assesses your problem solving and critical thinking skills (e.g. You have a conflict with someone who is senior to you and is not your supervisor. Describe how you would handle it.).

How to Answer

It’s really important that you share/say out loud the dialogue that would normally just happen inside of your head. How you think about the situation can be just as important as what actions you might take. Actually imagine yourself in the situation you’ve been presented with, detail what you would do and explain why. The RACED Model will help you do that.


Restate Restate the situation briefly. This will give you a chance to think and re-organize your answer. It will also allow you to imagine yourself in the situation.


Analyze What is the dilemma here?  Talk about both sides if you see them.


Cause/Outcome State possible causes of the situation (best case scenario vs worst case scenario). Make assumptions if necessary. What would be the outcome for picking one side or the other in a dilemma? Think about impacts: to yourself and others and the person involved.


Experience See if you have a similar experience that shows qualities you possess/how you’ve worked through a similar situation in the past (you can apply the STARS Acronym here). 


Decide Make a decision.Talk about the possible actions and WHY you’d do it. Talk about the implications of your decision. Try to show as many positive qualities here - this is your chance to shine!

NOTE: It may be tempting to answer based on what you think the interviewer wants to hear or to focus on “best case” scenario. This can be risky. The interviewer is looking to understand if you have a reasonable strategy for dealing with challenging issues, so don’t avoid the conflict! The interviewer is also looking for genuineness and consistency in your views.