Reading Interviewer’s mind

A K Mishra, Director  Chanakya IAS Academy

You need not to be an ace mind reader or bring a crystal ball to your next interview but it’s important to think like an interviewer while facing the interview board. More or less, what an interviewer intends to hear from the potential candidate is same as when you hire somebody to manage your money or care for your children.You would like to dig in if they have strong work ethic, if they plan to stick around for a while, if they are capable of performing the job, if they are trustworthy, likeable and creative.

So if you could read interviewer’s mind, you would discover that their mind is bristling with similar questions. Let’s bandy about some questions that might occupy interviewers mind.

Ice-breakers: Purpose of these questions is to make you comfortable. Interview board might ask you questions related to your college and education.They may also ask you about your hobbies and how they help you achieve your target in daily life.

Closed Questions: Such questions aim at digging into the areas where further probing questions can be asked. Interview panel test your attentiveness and listening more than knowledge through such questions. While answering such questions, a candidate needs to be honest and precise even if he/she does not know the answer.

Open ended Questions: Through such questions, interview board wants to understand your personality. Such questions enable them to discern your views, opinions and rationale behind such views. The trick is to use LATE technique while answering the questions. LATE stands for listen, ask think and express.

Probing questions: Such questions pore over your feelings, attitudes, views and clarity of thoughts. You are asked to justify your answers and often contradicted with opposite views. The interviewers, on numerous occasions, through their negative words pretend that they are displeased and not interested in your answers. The idea is to judge your response in stressful situations.

The Devil’s Advocate: In this case, interviewers’ views and opinion will be in contrast to yours and the questions are provocative. Through such questions interviewer wants to get at your hidden prejudices, if any. They might ask questions differently to dive into the downside of your personality. For instance, if you are a doctor, instead of asking ‘why do you want to be a civil servant’ they may ask “You are already a doctor and make a killing in the profession then why do you want to be a civil servant”.

Sandwich Questions: They are the mixture of many or all of the above. They can ask questions like who are weaker sections, history of reservation in India.

Clarifying questions:

Such questions are asked to check your confidence, assertiveness, integrity or consistency. Interviewer may sum up what you have said differently and bring new interpretation to it.


At times, interviewer assertively points out at you mistake and like an elder ask you to correct it. When you make a mistake and do not correct it on your own, they ask you another question that hints at your mistakes. The idea is to analyze your willingness to admit a mistake and correct it.

Situational or What if questions: hypothetical questions

These questions aim at your ability to think logically and objectively. They put you in an unfamiliar situation and wish to see your response.

Questions with a disguised motive

In CSE, 2014, many candidates hit panic button when interview board bludgeoned them with series of trivial factual questions which they could not answer. It unnerved candidates and even interviewer pretended that they are dissatisfied and often said that “you must know this”. It brought down their confidence level and faith in the interviewer and their scores had been adversely affected. Actually they fell into the trap of Questions with disguised motive.

In truth, such questions intend to test candidate’s calmness, composure and confidence during unexpected situation.

After serious contemplation over the kind of questions that interview board throws at you, you can get a good fix on their psychology behind asking these questions.

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