Appropriate Interview Questions

Questions about job

  1. Why have you chosen to work in this field?
  2. Why are you interested in this particular job?
  3. What have you heard about the nature of this job that interests you?
  4. What do you feel are your most important qualifications for this position?
  5. How would you apply your prior experience to this job?
  6. Have you read the job description for this job? Do you understand it?
  7. Do you think you can perform the job functions described in the job descriptions, with or without accommodation?
  8. Have you read our attendance policy? Do you think you can maintain good attendance and maintain punctuality at this job?
  9. We sometimes offer or require night shifts and overtime? Would you be willing to undertake such assignments, if offered or required for the job?
  10. We sometimes also offer or require work on weekends or holidays. Would you be willing to undertake such assignments, if offered or required for the job?

Questions about employer

  1. How did you first hear about this company?
  2. Why do you want to work for this company?
  3. What have you heard about our company culture? Our values?
  4. Do you think your personal values would blend well with the company’s values? Why?
  5. How do you see yourself growing within our organizational framework?
  6. Describe the ideal working conditions.

Questions about organizational preferences

  1. Do you like working in teams? Why or why not?
  2. Do you like working on individual assignments? Why or why not?
  3. Do you think you flourish more in smaller groups or larger groups?
  4. Do you prefer working in smaller companies or larger companies?
  5. In group assignments or teamwork, do you see yourself more as a leader, a key support person, or one of several workers working side by side to complete a task? Or do you see yourself in some other role?

Questions about supervision

  1. What kind of boss do you prefer?
  2. What kind of relationship do you expect with your immediate supervisor?
  3. What do you think are the qualities that make a boss an effective supervisor?
  4. What personality traits do you believe make a supervisor ineffective?
  5. How would you describe your previous bosses and supervisors?
  6. What would each of these prior supervisors say about you? About your work?
  7. Have you ever served in a supervisory role? Explain.
  8. Do you have any policies or philosophies that you like to follow when you are functioning as a supervisor of other people? Explain.
  9. If you could hand-pick a team of workers to supervise, what kinds of workers would you pick for your team?
  10. How would you handle subordinates who don’t come to work on time?
  11. How would you handle those who don’t work efficiently or productively?
  12. How would you handle those who frequently fight with others and complain about others?
  13. Do you regret any decision you ever made as a supervisor – actions you would handle differently today if given a second chance? Explain.
  14. What improvements do you think you’ve made during the course of your career that impact upon your skill as a supervisor?
  15. How do you feel a manager should motivate employees to work?
  16. What kinds of incentives would you recommend to increase productivity?
  17. Do you see a manager as one who delegates work to others or one who partakes in the work himself while managing the others?
  18. Are you comfortable with delegating work to subordinates? Have you ever had second thoughts about it? Why? How did you handle your concerns?

Questions about education and training

  1. Where did you go to college?
  2. What was your major?
  3. Is that the same major that you chose when you entered college, or did you change your major along the way? Explain.
  4. What was your grade point average?
  5. What were your favorite courses? Why?
  6. What courses were your most difficult courses? How did you overcome the difficulties?
  7. Were there any courses or professors that you feel will remember fondly for the rest of your life? Explain.
  8. Were there any courses or professors that left you with a bad impression? Explain.
  9. What do you feel you learned in college about yourself?
  10. Were you involved in any college clubs or activities that related to your major course of study? Tell me about those experiences.
  11. What degrees or diplomas do you hold now?
  12. Did you win any awards or special distinctions in school? Explain.
  13. Do you have any plans for further academic study? Explain.
  14. Besides college, have you taken any training courses of any sort since graduating from high school?
  15. Do you hold any special licenses, certifications or designations?
  16. As a result of your education and training, are you qualified to apply for any licenses, certification or designations?
  17. Looking back, what do you think are your academic strengths and your academic weaknesses?

Questions about job experience

  1. Are you working anywhere now? Where? Doing what?
  2. How long have you worked at your current job?
  3. What are your job responsibilities at your current job? Have they changed during the course of your employment there?
  4. Why do you want to leave the job? (Or why did you leave the job?)
  5. Is your current employer aware of your intentions?
  6. Does your employer know that you’re looking for another job?
  7. When do you wish to make a transition?

As to each prior job identified by the applicant:

  1. How long did you work for the employer?
  2. What were your job duties and responsibilities?
  3. Who were your supervisors while you worked there?
  4. Did you leave on good terms? If not, please explain.
  5. How would you describe your prior employer’s workplace?
  6. What was the company culture there? Can you talk about their mission? Their values?
  7. Do you have any regrets about having left any of your prior jobs? Why?
  8. What do you think were your key accomplishments on each prior job?
  9. Looking back, can you identify any shortcomings or setbacks you experienced in prior jobs? Were there job-related projects or events you would have liked to handle better? Explain.
  10. What was your attendance record at previous jobs? Explain.
  11. Did you have any disciplinary infractions at prior jobs? Explain.
  12. Did you develop any new skills or qualifications at prior jobs? Explain.

As to specific prior jobs:

  1. I notice that you were not working anywhere between (date) and (date)? Could you explain the gap between jobs?
  2. Which would you say was your favorite prior job? Why?
  3. Which job was your least favorite? Why?

Self-Assessment and motivating factors

  1. What inspires you the most at a job?
  2. What is your career plan?
  3. Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?
  4. How do you think you can best achieve your goals?
  5. What motivates you to do a good job?
  6. What sort of things de-motivate you on the job?
  7. Have you ever had the opportunity or the duty to motivate other people? Did you succeed? Why or why not? How?
  8. Have you gone as far in your career so far as you had hoped? If not, what obstacles have you encountered? How did you, or do you, intend to overcome them?
  9. How would you like other people you’ve worked with to describe you?
  10. How do you think they would actually describe you, if asked about you today?
  11. Do you think you have negotiating skills? Describe them. Have you ever had the occasion to apply those skills to resolve a conflict?
  12. What would you consider your greatest strengths in a business organization?
  13. What would you consider your greatest weakness in a business organization?

Relationships with co-workers

  1. How well would you say that you work with others on the job?
  2. Have you ever had difficulties with co-workers in the past? Explain.
  3. How did you resolve the difficulties with co-workers?
  4. What steps do you think a company should take to ensure that co-workers can work productively with each other?
  5. How should a company or a supervisor address disputes or disagreements between co-workers?

Memberships and outside activities

  1. Do you belong to any job-related organizations?
  2. Do you belong to any professional associations directly connected to your professional status as a (insert professional title, such as dentist, attorney, mechanical engineer)?
  3. Are you currently pursuing any course of study, programs or learning activities that will help you or guide you on this job?
  4. Do you ever attend any programs or participate in any activities in order to keep informed about new developments in your field? Explain.

Integrity, loyalty and ethics

  1. Do you think a company should have a code of ethics? Why or why not?
  2. What kinds of principles would you include in a company code of ethics?
  3. What do you see as the difference between something that is unlawful and something that is unethical?
  4. How should a company handle conduct that is unlawful versus conduct that is unethical?
  5. How should a company handle employees who steal?
  6. Do you see a difference between employees who steal pencils or note pads and those who conduct their own private business on the computer for several hours each day?
  7. What would you do if you became aware of an employee who steals property from the company, or who conducts her own business on the computers at work?
  8. Are there exceptions to the rules? Explain.
  9. Do you think employees should talk about the company’s clients, or about the work we do, in conversations with others outside of the workplace?
  10. What would you do if you learned that a co-worker was discussing certain trade secrets or proprietary information about this company with managers or workers from a competing company?
  11. What would you do if you learned certain trade secrets or proprietary information about a competitor, which could prove useful to this company?
  12. Have you ever encountered an ethical dilemma on the job? Describe.
  13. How did you resolve the ethical dilemma?
  14. Do you think you resolved the dilemma properly? Would you handle it differently today?
  15. What kinds of ethical infractions have you observed by others at previous jobs, or in other life experiences?
  16. What did you do in reaction or response to others’ ethical infractions?
  17. What would you do today if you were required to perform a job or take a course of action which you believed was unethical?
  18. Have you ever had to fire anyone? Describe.

Deadlines, customers and stressors

  1. What is your definition of good customer service?
  2. What are the kinds of things, in your experience, that make customers and clients angry or frustrated?
  3. What would you suggest to improve customer relations and to minimize the incidence of angry or frustrated customers?
  4. How would you handle a customer or client who has become openly hostile, argumentative or threatening?
  5. How would you handle a client who has threatened to terminate the company’s services because of an untimely job or a low quality job?
  6. Let’s say that you know that a certain project for a client will not be completed on time. What would you do?
  7. Have you ever had a situation when an unexpected event caused a tremendous backlog in work? How did you handle it?
  8. Have you ever had a situation where one problem was layered upon another problem, and a situation had become extremely stressful or emotional? How did you handle it?
  9. Have you ever been required to apply your investigative skills or research abilities to address a problem at work? Explain.
  10. Have you ever been confronted with a deadline, a quota, a performance standard or any other criteria that you did not think you were going to meet? How did you handle it? What were the results?
  11. Do you get stresses by presenting oral reports or presentations in front of managers, co-workers, or potential new clients? How do you deal with that stress?
  12. Do you get stressed when you are required to produce a lengthy or technical written project? How have you dealt with that stress?
  13. Can you describe a situation when you and a supervisor disagreed on an issue or task at work? How did you handle it? How was it resolved?
  14. Can you describe such a situation in which you disagreed with a co-worker? How did you handle it? How was it resolved?
  15. Looking back, would you have handled any of these stressful situations differently today?
  16. Looking forward, how will you handle situations in which you are confronted with a boss, a co-worker or a customer whose personality clashes with yours?
  17. Have you experienced situations in which you delegated a task to another, and it was not performed to expectations? Explain.
  18. Have you ever confronted a dangerous, a violent or hostile situation at work? How did you handle it?
  19. How do you organize your schedule?
  20. Do you apply any special time management skills?
  21. Can you describe an instance in which your scheduling or planning failed?
  22. Can you describe an instance in which a well-organized schedule or plan produced timely and positive results?
  23. Were you ever thrust into anybody else’s supervisory role when they failed, or resigned, or were otherwise unavailable to supervise a situation? How did it occur? What was the situation? How did you handle it?
  24. What is the most unusual or unique way you ever solved a problem at work?
  25. What do you do when two priorities compete for your time?
  26. Do you recall any instances when you were forced to do something in a way that was contrary to your own judgment or your own recommendations? What happened?
  27. Have you made concessions to others or compromises in order to get the job done? Explain.
  28. Do you feel that you were ever forced to compromise the integrity of the work or the quality of the product in order to deal with deadlines or stressful situations? Explain.
  29. Have you ever had the opportunity to try to win back disenfranchised customers or clients who lost faith in your company? What did you do to restore their interest, confidence and enthusiasm?
  30. Have you ever confronted barriers to communication? How did you deal with it?
  31. Has anybody ever lost his or her temper at you in a business environment? Explain.
  32. Have you ever lost your temper toward a fellow worker or manager? Why?

Responsiveness to criticism and growth

  1. What do you think have been your greatest mistakes on the job in the course of your career? Why?
  2. What did you learn from your mistakes?
  3. How have you applied what you learned from your mistakes?
  4. How do you react today when your ideas are shot down by superiors or your proposals are rejected?
  5. How would you react if you submitted a report, a presentation, a proposal or a project and, despite significant work on your part, the company chose to go in another direction – essentially discarding all of your work?
  6. Have you been evaluated by your former employers? Did they use any kind of personnel appraisal or evaluation system?
  7. What were the results of your evaluation?
  8. Did you agree with the results?
  9. What action or response did you give at this time?
  10. Looking back, do you think the evaluations were accurate, partially accurate, misguided or otherwise?
  11. In a leadership role, how would you provide criticism to your subordinates?
  12. What do you think is the best way for employees to minimize the amount of criticism coming from their bosses?

Geographical and travel questions

  1. Are you willing to relocate for this job?
  2. Are you willing to travel for this job?
  3. Would you be able to take this job if it involved a significant amount of driving, train travel, or air travel?

Salary and earnings history

  1. What are you currently earning on your present job?
  2. Tell me about your salary history.
  3. What would you like to be earning right now?
  4. What would you like to be earning in two years? Five years?
  5. What kind of criteria do you think an employer should consider in increasing an employee’s wages or salary?

Creativity and spontaneity

These test the ability of the candidate to answer surprise questions or address unusual scenarios and are useful for providing further insight about an applicant’s quick thinking, personality and external motivators.

  1. Who do you admire most? Why?
  2. What is your favorite fiction book? Non-fiction book? Most recently read book?
  3. If there was a book about your life, what would the title be? Why?
  4. If you won the lottery and had no future financial concerns, what would you do with your time?
  5. What movie star would you cast to play the role of you in a motion picture about your life?
  6. What’s the biggest risk you ever took? Why did you take it? How did it turn out?
  7. If you were marooned on an island, and food, water and shelter were provided for you, what other items would you want to have with you?

Miscellaneous open-ended questions

  1. Why should I hire you?
  2. How would you describe yourself?
  3. What are your short-term and long-range career goals?
  4. How would you measure success?
  5. Considering your definition of success, do you think that you’ve been successful?
  6. Do you consider yourself a leader?
  7. What are the requirements, duties and personality traits of a good leader?
  8. Describe your leadership or management style.
  9. What do you know about our line of business?
  10. What important trends do you see in our industry?
  11. What do you know about our competitors?
  12. What can you do for us that somebody else cannot do, or perhaps cannot do as well?
  13. Are there any special characteristics about you, which you think I should consider in relation to this job opening?
  14. What is your most notable accomplishment?
  15. Tell me about your dream job.
  16. How long would you expect to work for us if we hire you?
  17. What kind of work environment or company culture do you feel best suits you?
  18. How did you prepare for this interview?
  19. When we call your references, what will they tell us about you?
  20. How long have you been looking for a job?
  21. What other positions are you considering at this time?
  22. What questions did I fail to ask you that you expected to be asked?
  23. Do you have any questions about this job?

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