5 Job Interview Questions to Expect During the Great Resignation

The low unemployment rate for technologists has employers evaluating turnover data and revamping their hiring and interview processes. They’re trying to identify potential flight risks—employees who leave after only a few months in the role, either because it’s not a great fit or they’ve sensed a better opportunity somewhere else.

During these evaluations, employers might probe a job seeker’s motivation, commitment, career objectives, triggers, work preferences, expectations and cultural fit. To help you put your best foot forward during your next job interview, here are some questions you should anticipate and be prepared to answer.

“What is your ideal work environment?”

One of the primary causes of employee turnover is poor cultural fit. To assess a prospective employee’s cultural match, interviewers will ask you to describe the type of culture and work environment that motivates you, as well as the management style you prefer, explained Mike Poskey, president and CEO of ZERORISK HR.

Expect the interviewer to ask more “tricky” and detailed questions based on the information collected from other employees’ exit surveys. While these questions might seem annoying at first, they have a secret benefit, as they often provide a glimpse into the company’s real culture.

Since you no doubt want to work in a compatible work environment, it’s important to identify the cultural elements and priorities that are important to you. “Be able to articulate what a perfect work environment looks like and tastes like,” advised Matt Abbott, general manager of The Sourcery. Also, make sure to do your own research ahead of time so you can connect your needs to the company’s culture and ask thoughtful questions.

Word of caution: While many tech workers are looking for flexibility, remember that flexibility is a two-way street, Poskey says. For example, while you might want to work remotely full-time, with a totally flexible schedule, you might consider meeting the company halfway by agreeing to hybrid work and a pre-set schedule. By signaling your willingness to help the company meet its objectives and cultural needs, you improve your chances of landing the job.

“Why did you leave your last job?”

If you have a track record of leaving jobs within a year, numerous employment gaps on your resume, or quit your last job without another lined up, expect the interviewer to dig deep to see if you lack commitment.

Provide a brief, acceptable reason for leaving, such as wanting more upward mobility, a more inclusive culture, or the chance to work on projects using innovative technology. Then pivot to what you’re looking for in your new role.

It’s also acceptable to explain that you’ve been evolving as a professional and have learned what you want through trial-and-error, Poskey noted. Just make sure to follow up by stating your priorities and goals.

“Why do you want to work for this company?”

Gallup research found employees who are “engaged and thriving” are 59 percent less likely to look for a job with a different organization in the next 12 months. In light of that, expect interviewers to probe what you know about the company and its mission, and whether you truly understand the role and are passionate and committed to the work.

They may also ask things like:

  • “What aspects of the role do you think you’ll like and dislike?”
  • “If we offer you the job, how long do you think you’ll stay?”
  • “Why do you think this job would be different/better than your current job?”
  • “Where else are your interviewing?
  • “What do you think about our competitors?”
  • “Can you tell me about a time when you failed to honor a commitment you made?”

Before heading into the interview, prepare answers that address these lines of inquiry. Being unprepared or offering generic answers shows a lack of interest in the role and poor motivation. Show enthusiasm by researching the company, asking insightful questions and, most importantly, explaining how you can help the company succeed.

“Describe a stressful situation and how you handled it.”

Employers want to determine how you’ll handle challenging situations that come with the job, and whether you can deal with pressure, tight deadlines, and big projects. They may also ask more specific questions like:

  • “How would you handle undeserved criticism from a superior?”
  • “How would you handle a co-worker taking credit for your work?”
  • “What did you do when you worked for a boss you didn’t get along with?”

Provide an example of how you’ve handled a stressful situation in the past, describe your coping techniques, and highlight the soft skills you developed and things you’ve learned by working under pressure (like how to confront a co-worker, negotiate requirements, prioritize tasks and manage deadlines).

“What are your immediate career goals?”

Interviewers want to gain insight into your aspirations and goals to see if they are reasonable and achievable, and whether you are likely to stay and grow with the company (at least for a while) or seek greener pastures.

Make your answer truthful, but general enough that it doesn’t raise doubts about whether you would be a good fit. Focus on the things and technology you’d like to learn, the experience you’d like to gain, and the activities and projects you’d like to engage in rather than a specific role or job title.

11 Responses to “5 Job Interview Questions to Expect During the Great Resignation”

  1. I don’t see myself willing to answer any of those questions. They are either too personal, or are just none of their business, which also just plain makes them too personal.

      • 1. A cubicle without windows, with the computer and related peripherals I need for working on the project. Also, paper and pencil would be nice.
        (The last ‘job’ I was on, the sole computer on my desk, had only 1 display, it was CRT, it ran Windows XP, there was no printer, and no network connection. I had to wait on the corporate portable optical drive in order to install Visual Studio to do any work, with someone coming into my cubicle every 5 minutes to see if I was done because they also needed the drive. When it came to doing my timesheets, I had to report via 2 different systems: first was one that required an internet connection, so I had to use my personal laptop from my hotel room on the hotel’s connection. The second system was to fill out an MS-Office template, print the hardcopy, and turn it in. Since I wasn’t allowed a printer, and I wasn’t allowed ‘recording devices’, I was allowed to borrow someone else’s flash drive to transfer the document to the printer in personnel, which would print the document. Then of course I had to give back the flash drive after every print job. It was 2 weeks until I could get any paper, pen, pencil, anything to jot notes and scribble ideas pertaining to the project I was hired to do.
        2. My previous employer went out of business. I took advantage of my situation and returned to university full-time, and finished 2 degrees.
        3. I want to pay my bills. I have a lot of outstanding student debt. Otherwise, you contacted me using information on a resume that’s been floating out there for 3 years. I don’t know anything about your company, it’s 3,000 miles away from home, and you need coding done in obsolete C# Net 3.5 for a turnkey project, that I happened to learn through self-study after I graduated from the university this time.
        4. I don’t put myself in stressful situations.
        5. I just want to sit here and write code, and keep the nonsense to a minimum. Be left alone on my lunch break. Not having someone time my bowel movements which are beyond my control.

    • Dr. David Herbert Lawrence

      Stay unemployed then.

      It is not what you say but how you say it that is the key to win the interview.

      Preparation is everything.

      The interview focus is absolutely not about what a “great catch” you are. It about “them” and what you can do to make them money.

      Winning the interview is about exactly what you have done, how you have done it, and what has been your financial impact, all of which telegraphs, directly and indirectly, your potential for sustaining the prospective employer.

  2. I am not a competitive person at work, (possibly an unusual personality), so in these situations I have to resort to my personal philosophy in life rather than business strategies concerning the hierarchy.

    We can generalize about situations such as this and come up with strategies and rehearse them, or even make them into an SOP’s, but in real life they are always unique and you have to stay on your toes.

    So since this isn’t an actual interview I do not know exactly what I would say, but these are my thoughts at the moment.

    1. Just let it go, be patient, kind, calm, and focus on the next right thing. Use your time and energy wisely.
    2. Same as #1
    3. Same as #2

  3. FastEddyG2

    Don’t take these questions personal. Keep in mind you are projecting a role at your workplace not your deep personal beliefs. You need to have a job to gain resources at minimum– money– to be able to support your and perhaps your family’s personal goals. You will have many many jobs as you advance along your working life so don’t get too worried when you interview for this particular position, it will not be your last.

  4. Software_Bear

    The job search is a selling process in many ways in which the job seeker’s skills and abilities are compared to the needs of a company. This article, and those like it, are a public service to help prepare job seekers for unexpected questions from interviewers in HR and in the functional areas. Thank you, Dice.

  5. The exchange in this comment section was phenomenal. It showed the *incredible* breakdown in communication between (likely) competent engineers and the hiring process. The hiring process is *intentionally* made inscrutable and arcane. It is *literally* made into a game by technology-incompetent HR folks (that literally cannot understand how to describe technology jobs) attempting to stop people unlike-them from getting jobs. The hostile reaction from those with an engineering mindset (who want it to “make sense”) is also telling. Their tangible frustration and attitude of “I have the skills, just give me the job” and unwillingness to “play the HR game” is why we have an (optical only) lack of technology talent. These questions ARE personal, and irrelevant to MOST real jobs. They’re an attempt the company trying to elicit a “one of us” attitude from employees that the company will pay “the least possible amount they can” for. This is a stupid game where everyone looses, fixing it will make someone very wealthy. It’s clear that Dice won’t be the one fixing it.