Sample Non-Technical Interview Questions
This past week, I acquired a book on interview questions – 403 questions to be exact – put out by Growth Everywhere. While I look at these questions, I am tempted to answer some myself. These are just a few of what’s in the book:
Have you ever taken on an assignment without knowing how you were going to do it? What happened?
I do this frequently. When I get assignments that I’m uncertain of how I’m going to do it, I usually take this kind of approach:
- Hit up the search engines to gain more domain knowledge to understand what I’m working with.
- Cross-reference the domain with technologies already available for the problem. If there’s a solution already out there, I’d evaluate it to see if it solves the assignment I’ve been given. If so, I can suggest it up the chain. But if they want me to code from scratch, I’ll at least have an idea on what kind of approach to take.
- Get to work and deliver some deliverables!
This has worked well for me so far.
Tell me about a time when you felt like a “fish out of water.” What did you do to increase your comfort level?
I get this feeling a lot, as I’ve been a fierce introvert for most of my life – only in the past 8 or so years have I really broken out of my shell a lot. (Yes, I may seem extroverted at times, but at the end of the day, I wind down by myself or with a very select group of people who make it easy for me to wind down.)
I’m already getting that feeling now as I prepare to attend a security conference. I have that “fish out of water” feeling because I know few people in that community, and so it’s a sea of unknowns for me. However, I’ve been preparing for the conference by researching the history of the local conference, who the organizers have been and are, and what sessions are presented. I’m still nervous as I see no women speakers and few familiar names. But my research will help me grow comfortable – and then just going to the conference and experience it will probably ease the rest of my nerves.
Tell me about a work situation that required you to adapt to a wide variety of people. What did you find difficult about that? What did you enjoy?
While working as a web developer, I had to be on projects where I dealt with:
- Marketing – both at the graphic designer level and at the director level
- IT – both at the deployment level and at the team lead level
- Product owners
- Fellow developers – junior web devs, managers, and service devs
The difficult part was being the middle man and listening to the “he never listens to me” and “she never hears me” complaints from various sides. I eventually was able to show everyone that we could play nice together, while acknowledging that certain team partnerships just aren’t meant to be.
The part I enjoyed most though was being the middle man and encouraging everyone to come together to solve problem while using our strengths and domain expertise. Even though I was in the web developer role, I’ve taken to team dynamics and relationships quite well naturally, and I find that being diplomatic and empathetic goes far in that middle man role.
Tell me about a time when you were able to turn someone’s opinion completely around. How did you convince that person?
This one time, at GiveCamp… we had a non-profit that had Joomla on their server. Their IT guy had explicitly told their non-profit representative – absolutely, positively, without a doubt NO WORDPRESS. Well, WordPress is a common solution that we use at Cleveland GiveCamp, as we train our non-profits on how to use it. It’s also considerably easier to use than Joomla when it comes to non-technical users. Having an IT background myself, I was able to convince the non-profit rep to let me talk with her IT guy. Once I got the IT guy on the phone, I told him that I was with the GiveCamp team and wanted to understand his reservations with WordPress. Security holes – newer WordPress versus his archaic Joomla portal.. yeah. Lots of calls – we do the training and provide links of references. When I mentioned that a lot of what the end user needs is well-documented and that WordPress is more intuitive than Joomla (which means less support calls for the IT guy), he relented and realized it isn’t so bad. It took a lot of patience and empathy on my end, but we got his buy-in after all.
There are a lot more questions in this book, broken out into competencies that employers look for. These questions are thought-provoking, great for getting stories out, and overall well laid out. If you’re in an interview situation – interviewer or even interviewee – this book is worth checking out.