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Common Interview Questions

It’s nearly impossible to predict your interview questions, but there is a good chance you’ll be asked some of the questions on this page. Be ready for any question! You may assume you can answer the questions, but until you attempt to verbalize your thoughts, you won't know if your responses are clear, concise and effective. During the interview, you’ll be expected to give specific examples. This is where practice becomes so important. Ask a friend or roommate to interview you. Or even better, schedule a practice interview with your career advisor.  Practice, practice, practice!

Types of Interview Questions

This page contains a list of various questions you might encounter during an interview. The questions are grouped into these categories:

Be sure to practice questions from each section. Before answering interview questions, it is important to remember that most interviewers will be looking for three things in your response:

  1. Your answer
  2. How well you can organize your thoughts
  3. How well you express yourself
Ice Breakers

Interviews often begin with small talk, to break the ice. This isn't just idle chitchat. It helps you and your interviewer connect. This is an opportunity to build rapport with your interviewers that can give you an edge over other candidates.

  1. The campus looks very busy. How is your semester going?
  2. I see you are involved in sports. How is your season going?
  3. I have an extra hour and it's my first visit to the area. What should I see?
Personal Assessment

Your answers to these personal assessment questions tell interviewers you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses, skills and abilities, interests, values, goals, and aspirations. For these interview questions, the topic is YOU.

  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. What are three strengths you possess related to this position?
  3. What is one of your weaknesses?
  4. What have you done that shows initiative and willingness to work?
  5. Has your work ever been criticized?* How do you react to criticism?
  6. How would your best friend describe you?
  7. Describe yourself using one-word adjectives.*
  8. What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?
  9. What kind of people do you enjoy working with?
  10. What types of people rub you the wrong way?
  11. What frustrates you? What makes you angry?
  12. How do you spend your spare time? What are your hobbies?
  13. Tell me about someone who has influenced you personally or professionally.*
  14. When you are in a group situation are you the leader, technical expert, creative, responsible one? Provide examples.*
  15. Have you had any work experience related to this position?
  16. Tell me about the most satisfying job you ever held. The least satisfying.
  17. What was most rewarding about your previous job? Most frustrating?*
  18. What was your most significant accomplishment in your last position?*
  19. What kind of work interests you the most?
  20. What were you doing during the period of time not covered in your resume?
  21. Tell me about a time you made your mind up too quickly.*
  22. Tell me about an experience you had in customer service that went badly and how did you handle it?*
  23. Have you ever failed at something? What did you do?*
  24. Describe a situation in which you and a co-worker have disagreed. How did you work it out?*
  25. Tell me about a time when you took charge as a leader in a work situation without being formally assigned to that role by your boss.*
  26. Tell me about a time when you felt you went beyond the call of duty in helping a customer.*
  27. Describe what you liked and disliked about how you were managed in previous positions.*
  28. Have you ever worked with someone who has had excessive absences?*
  29. Have you ever stolen anything from a company?*
  30. Tell me about the last time you broke the rules.*
  31. What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you?*
  32. What was your most interesting project or job?*
  33. Tell me how you increased teamwork among a previous group with whom you worked.*
  34. Why are you leaving (or did leave) your present (former) position?*

Employers will ask you questions about your education because they want to know how your experience during college will translate to your job. It also shows how committed you are, based on extracurricular activities, classes and grades during college.

  1. Can you summarize your educational background for me?
  2. Why did you decide to attend UW-Green Bay?
  3. Why did you major in ______?
  4. Tell me about your grades overall and grades in your major.
  5. What courses did you like the most? The least? Why?
  6. Do you feel your grades accurately reflect your academic ability?
  7. Describe for me your most rewarding accomplishment since you've started college.
  8. Describe your study habits.
  9. How did you finance your education?
  10. Do you feel you received a good general education?
  11. Why did you drop out of school for a year?
  12. How do you spend college vacations?
  13. What extra-curricular activities are you involved in? What have you gained from these experiences?
  14. Do you have plans for furthering your education?
  15. If you could start college over, what would you do differently?
Leadership and Supervision

Describing your leadership abilities during your interview can show your potential to develop as a professional to move up in the organization. They also want to know how you fit in a workplace so they can create a better atmosphere for their employees.

  1. Describe your supervisory experience.
  2. Have you ever trained a co-worker and what steps did you take?*
  3. Every manager has to learn to delegate well. Describe a work situation in which you delegated responsibility successfully. Then tell me about a time when your delegation of responsibility did not work out well. How did you handle that situation?*
  4. What kind of boss do you prefer? Tell me about your favorite and least favorite boss.
  5. What qualities does a successful (manager, teacher, counselor, etc.) possess?
  6. Can you get recommendations from previous employers? Professors?
  7. What will your current employer tell me about you?*
  8. How would your former supervisors/co-workers describe your performance?*
  9. Would your boss be surprised that you are interviewing?*
  10. Tell me about a time you have disagreed with your boss. How did you handle it?*
Career Ambitions and Plans

It’s important for employers to know your career aspirations to make sure your goals align with the role. Even if you don’t know what you want to do, you can be honest – you could instead talk about how this role will help you develop as a professional because of the organization’s business model.

  1. Why did you choose this career field?
  2. What type of position are you seeking?
  3. What are your long-range and short-range goals and objectives? When and why did you establish these goals? How are you preparing to achieve them?
  4. What are your career goals for the next 5 years?*
  5. What specific goals, other than those related to your occupation, have you established for yourself in the next five years?
  6. List the first 5 things you would accomplish in 2 weeks if you took on this role?*
  7. What do you know about opportunities in your field?
  8. What are the most important rewards you expect from your career?
  9. What would you be giving up in your present job to take our position?*
  10. What was the worst career mistake you have ever made and what have you learned from it?*
  11. Tell me the position you’ve held that has been most meaningful to you and why.*
  12. What improvements would you have made in your last job?*
  13. What kind of challenge are you looking for?
  14. What do you think determines a person's progress within a company?
  15. How do you determine or evaluate success?
  16. How much money do you hope to earn five years from now?

Before the interview, be sure to research the organization – find out their mission, learn about what services they provide, maybe even look up some of their employees on LinkedIn. By learning about the company, you’ll demonstrate your interest in the job and determine if it’s the best fit for you.

  1. Why do you want to work for this organization?
  2. What do you know about our organization?
  3. What prompted you to apply with our company?*
  4. What section (service or product) are you most interested in?
  5. Do you prefer large or small organizations? Why?
  6. What do you think it takes to be successful in an organization such as ours?
  7. In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our organization?
  8. Have you ever been a member of a union? Worked with union members?
  9. How long would you expect to work here?
  10. Are you willing to work overtime?
  11. Are you willing to relocate?
  12. What type of work environment are you most comfortable with?
  13. Why do you think you might like to live in the community in which our organization is located?
  14. Why should we hire you instead of any of the other well-qualified candidates?*

The interview isn’t just to help the employers determine if you fit the role – it’s also to help you figure out if the organization is right for you. Remember your value as an employee and as a person. And, make sure you have questions you can ask the interviewers, which shows how prepared and professional you are.

  1. What are your salary expectations?
  2. When could you start work?
  3. Is there anything else I should know about you?
  4. Do you have any other questions?

*These questions are taken from the Green Bay Area Chapter, Society for Human Resource Management, November/December 2000.