Although technical questions are most often reserved for high skilled, typically tech/engineering/science related positions, that doesn’t mean that you won’t receive your fair share of questions relating to your career, major, or industry.
What exactly is a technical question? Technical questions are typically questions that are specifically geared towards the role, industry, or field of study that you’re interviewing for. For instance, if you’re interviewing for a software engineering or programming position, you can expect to answer a few programming related problems on the spot. It’s easy to see what type of technical questions may be asked for STEM fields, but what about for fields where your skillset is a little less tangible?
Let’s look at marketing. Now there’s no real marketing test problems that an interviewer will ask you to answer, but they may still ask you about recent projects you either led, designed, or were a part of. Same with any other field where the assessment of skill is a little less straightforward than having the candidate answer questions on a whiteboard.
Because it’s impossible to cover every possible question to every possible field, I’m going to separate jobs into either “STEM” or “non-STEM” categories and go into 3 common job-related questions for each field.
What programming languages do you know? And how familiar are you with language X?
Whenever you go in for a programming interview, you can expect to be asked about your comfort level with programming languages. Make sure you read through the job posting thoroughly since they will state exactly what type of languages they’re looking for!
Oftentimes during these interviews, the interviewer may ask you a” logic” problem or brainteaser on the spot. For these types of questions, they’re not necessarily interested in your answer but how you come up with your answer. To put it simply, they’re interested in your logical process.
Are you just guessing? Do you have a step by step logical process you follow to come to your conclusions? Depending on the company and manager you’re interviewing for, they may be looking for a specific type of thinker.
And finally, there’s the test. Pretty much every programming or STEM related job I’ve seen had some kind of test to evaluate the skillset and strength of their candidates. One of the biggest mistakes I see candidates make for any interview is being not only under-prepared, but completely unprepared.
Here’s a hint, the type of questions you’ll be asked and answers you’ll need to know will be right there on the job posting! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people apply to jobs and show up at interviews without thoroughly reading the job posting. While reading through the job posting won’t guarantee you’ll get the job, it will pretty much guarantee that you WON’T get the job.
Tell me about any recent projects and what type of challenges/problems you faced.
This is where an organized portfolio will come in handy. Remember, there’s no shame in making it seem like you had a bigger impact on the project than you really did. How are they going to find out?? Even if you were just “there” for it and were barely a part of it, talk up your contributions as if you were a key member of the project.
Logic problem “how would you solve this issue?”
The logic questions for non-STEM fields are similar to those of STEM fields. Ultimately, the interviewers and managers want to know what your thought process is like.
How do you come to your conclusion? While the correct answer isn't always important, your justification for how you came up with that answer is. So make sure that you're not just guessing!
Field specific question
“How would you respond if you were faced with this problem?” While the question may differ from field to field, the soul of the question is pretty much the same. For these types of questions, the interviewer wants to know not only how you’re going to solve these very common industry-related problems, but what kind of skills and tools you’re going to use along the way. Is it a customer service problem that requires specific knowledge about the rules and laws governing your response? Is it a marketing related question that’s going to require you to know specific ROI formulas or insights into the customer’s brand?