An essential part of interview preparation is formulating answers to specific questions. There are some standard questions that frequently come up during an interview. To brainstorm your approach to questions and practice responding strategically, make an appointment with a career advisor to discuss interviewing skills or have a practice interview.
Questions will often fall into the following categories of reflections: your background and latest experiences as related to the position of interest; your strengths and weaknesses; your interests and goals; your ability to work on teams; and your technical skills based on the needs of the role or industry.
- Tell me about yourself.
- What do you know about the company?
- How would you describe your ideal job?
- Why did you choose this career? What goals do you have in your career?
- How do you plan to achieve these goals?
- How do you evaluate success?
- Describe a situation in which you were successful.
- What accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction in your life?
- Would you rather work individually or with people? Are you a team player?
- What motivates you?
- Why should I hire you?
- Tell me about some of your recent goals and what you did to achieve them.
- What is your long-term goal? What do you see yourself doing 5 years from now?
- How do you handle conflict? How do you handle pressure?
- Have you ever had a conflict with a boss or professor? How did you resolve it?
- What major problem have you had to deal with recently?
- What is your greatest strength? What is your greatest weakness?
- If I were to ask one of your professors or a previous supervisor to describe you, what would they say?
- Why did you choose to attend your college? Do you have any plans for further education?
- (If applicable) Why do you want to leave your current position?
- Why are you interested in this job?
- What were your favorite classes and who were your favorite professors? Why?
- What qualities do you feel a successful manager or team leader should have?
- Why do you want to work in this industry?
Sample Behavioral Questions
Below is a list of behavioral interviewing questions that will require you to provide a specific example or reflection on a situation in your answer. Employers evaluate your approach to past situations and present reflections to determine the thoughtfulness with which you would approach future projects.
- Describe a situation in which you had to seek out relevant information, define key issues, and decide on a course of action to solve a problem.
- Tell us about a time that you failed.
- Describe a significant goal and how you achieved it despite obstacles.
- What is the most challenging group that you had to navigate to cooperate or engage? How did you approach this?
- Provide some examples of how you can adapt to a wide variety of people, situations, and environments.
- Have you ever had to “sell” an idea to your co-workers, work group, or customer? How did you do it?
- Describe a time on the job in which you were faced with problems or stressors that tested your coping skills.
- Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty to get a job done.
- How did you handle a challenging situation with a customer/client/patient?
- Describe a situation in which you worked effectively as a member or leader of a team to complete a project.
- Describe a recent unpopular decision you made and its results.
- How do you decide what gets top priority when scheduling your time? Give an example.
- Describe a situation where others you were working with disagreed with your ideas. What did you do?
- What steps do you follow when studying a problem and deciding upon a solution?
- As a manager or leader, how have you handled a situation in which you had to address a problem with an employee or counsel an employee?
Sample Questions to Ask on an Interview
By the time the employer asks if you have any questions at the end of an interview, it’s understandable to feel you have nothing more to say or ask. However, not asking questions is passing up a chance to stand out in their pool of candidates. Before the interview, prepare a list of questions that demonstrate your knowledge of the company and interest in the position; prioritize a set of 3-4 that you want to make sure to ask and a few additional options as well in case time permits. Some points of inquiry include:
- What do you see ahead for your company in the next 5 years?
- How do you see the future for this industry?
- What do you consider to be your organization’s most important assets?
- What can you tell me about your new product or plans for growth?
- How do you rate your competition?
The Position’s History
- What has been the history of this role or position?
- What were triumphs or challenges this role faced previously?
- What types of skills do you NOT already have onboard that you’re looking to gain with a new hire?
- What is the overall structure of the company and how does your department fit the structure?
- What have been the department’s successes in the last couple of years?
- How do you view or define your group/division/department?
The Job Responsibilities
- What would you consider to be the most important aspects of this job?
- What are the skills and attributes you value most for someone being hired for this position?
- Where have successful employees previously in this position progressed to within the company?
- Could you describe a typical day or week in this position?
- What are the most immediate challenges of the position that need to be addressed in the first 3 months?
- What are the performance expectations of this position over the first 12 months?
- How will I be evaluated at this company, and how often?
The Next Steps
- What are the next steps in the interview process?
Always wrap up with this question, so that when you go home you know what to expect next.