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  • Writer's pictureJay Metcalf

There are Only 3 Interview Questions: Interview Prep Bonus Post

Updated: May 22, 2023

If you search online right now for ‘common interview questions’ you will see lists of ‘Indeed’s top 125 interview questions’ and Glassdoor’s interview guide and on and on. There are a ton of great thoughts out there, and it is a great exercise with a loved one or friend to go through some of those questions and get used to answering them effectively.

With that in mind, then, I can tell you honestly that there are only 3 interview questions. Everything that your interviewers will ask you are just variations on these 3 same basic questions. If this surprises you or if you think I’m about as sharp as a marble (or that I’ve lost them), read on.

One last point before we go through the questions - your interviewer probably isn’t aware that they are asking these basic questions, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still looking for the answers to the 3.

Question 1: Can this candidate do the job? This is a skills and background question. Every question in an interview about where you did what is “can you do it.” Questions about GPA in school are ‘can you’ questions. You can tell these questions because they are normally going to reference the hard skills of the job.

We can take Gordon Ramsay as an example. If I’m interviewing him for LX Lobster, we could reasonably assume based on skills and experience that Gordon Ramsay is capable of running my restaurant. He’s run other restaurants successfully. He has trained with, and been the trainer of, some of the best Chefs in the world. He can run our Lobster shack. Can he do the job? Yes.

Question 2: Will this candidate do the job? This is a longevity and why kind of question. This moves off the paper and into a check of why is this person here. Example questions in this category are, “Why did you leave your last job” or “What do you know about this company” and “what kind of salary are you looking for?” Anything that is looking for the pattern of employment, average tenure, pay rate.

Now that I have determined that Gordon absolutely can run LX Lobster, I want to know why he’s here. I know from his work history that before now, he was running several Michelin Star restaurants and TV shows. I also am sure that he was making quite a bit more than the $85,000 we are able to pay him at LX Lobster. If I made him an offer, would he take it? If he did, how long would he stay with me before he took a $250,000 a year job? He lives in London but my restaurant is in Portland and he’s never been to Portland, so will he be happy there? On the “Will he do the job?” Gordon is a likely no.

Question 3: Can we work with this candidate? This question can show up as everything from chit chat at the beginning of the interview or with questions like “Are you a team player?” Frequently this is going to be more of a ‘vibe’ but there are definitely questions about work habits or personality types that fall in this category. Another way to say this is, “Can we stand this person?” Some interviewers may ask about the type of ‘culture’ you prefer - another version of this question.

With Gordon, what do we know? He’s a yeller. Very driven, very perfectionist. I know that my staff can handle a lot, but I don’t know if the staff at LX Lobster can handle Gordon yelling ‘It’s RAAAAAWWW’ at them during dinner service. I believe he may be too intense of a personality for my team so for question 3, I would also say he is a no.

And that brings me to a final point. The absolute most qualified person does not always translate to the best fit for a job. To beat out every other candidate who is interviewing for a job, you need to show that not only are you the most qualified for the role, but that you have the best track record (that you will show up and do the work) and that you can fit in to the culture of the company on a professional level.

TL;DR - there are only 3 interview questions and every other interview question is just another wording of one of these. Can they do the job, will they do the job, can they get along with us.

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