Interview Questions

I get asked about my favorite interview questions.  Over the years, I’ve been compiling a list of my core questions into a master list.  This makes it really handy when either prepping to conduct an interview as the interviewer or interviewee.  

There are three basic questions that must be answered in every interview — either directly or implied.

  • Have you got the skills, expertise, and experience to perform the job?
  • Are you enthusiastic and interested in the job and the company?
  • Will you fit into the team, culture, and company?

To drive those three questions, here’s a whole set of question that I’ve used in the past.

Warm up questions

  • What interests you about this position?
  • What made you apply for this particular position?
  • What did you do to prepare for this interview?
  • Why the [company name]?
  • What are you looking for in a job that you haven’t had before?
  • What qualities make you the best candidate for this position?
  • What Experience / Training/ Skill do you possess that would make you the best candidate for this position?

 

Experience

  • In less than 5 minutes, walk me through your resume and highlight experience you want me to notice.
  • Take about five minutes to tell us a little bit about yourself; your work history; your goals and ambitions; your passions and so forth.
  • For this position, we are looking for someone who has a related degree and at least 3 years of experience. Tell us how your formal education has prepared you for this position, and how your previous work experience relates to this position.
  • What is one skill that you would like to develop or strengthen while in this position?
  • In the last year, what have you learned from your academic, continuing education or work experience that will especially contribute to your work in this position?
  • If you were offered this position and accepted; what do you vision as your next career step? What is your ultimate career goal?
  • How would you define what makes a person an “expert” on a topic or process?

 

Project & Time Management

  • Please provide an example of a substantial project you were responsible for managing. In your description indicate the duration, budget, human and financial resources and outcomes.
  • This position has a pretty demanding schedule, how would you manage conflicting and competing priorities? Please provide an example of how you’ve accomplished this.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to prioritize timelines over quality in order to meet a deadline.
  • What experience have you had directing the work of contractors?
  • How do you organize your typical work day, including accommodating unanticipated tasks into your daily planning?
  • Do you prepare any kind of work schedule? Whom would you share it with?   How flexible are you in switching priorities?
  • Give us some examples of planning conflicts in your current job, and how you go about handling them.

 

Customer Service

  • Please describe a time in your past work experience when you demonstrated excellence in customer service.
  • Please describe internal/external customer service excellence as it would relate to the Program Associate position
  • If you had to describe excellence in customer service as it relates to this position, what would you say?

 

Teamwork & Management

  • What experience do you have working in a team environment?
  • What do see as the advantages and disadvantages of working on teams?
  • When you join a team as a new employee, what do you look for in terms of effectiveness of the team performance?
  • Give me an example of a time you had to take the lead with your work group to complete a project. How did you achieve teamwork and cooperation?
  • Describe the least successful relationship you’ve had at work. What did you do to try to create a better relationship?
  • Briefly explain a time when you didn’t get along with someone at work. What did you do to remedy the situation?  What did you learn from the situation?
  • Please use an example to describe your process for conflict resolution with a supervisor and/or peer.
  • Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a supervisor. How did you handle the solution and what was the outcome?
  • Tell me about a difficult decision you made while managing. How did you work through determining and implementing a solution?

 

Volunteers

  • You’d be coming into a position where there are many volunteers who have been doing this work longer then us, since before us, and probably will continue after us. How would you establish yourself as a qualified equal among volunteers?
  • Volunteers are critical to the success of any volunteer-driven program. How do you influence people who do not work for you nor in a “near” line of authority?
  • In most jobs, the supervisor has some face-to-face time to build a working relationship with team members. In this position, you will not be able to meet in person with the individuals performing the work in the field.   What is your plan to handle this situation?

 

Work Environment

  • Describe your preferred work environment and the type of manager you like to work with.
  • A [position title] is expected to work under general direction yet fairly independently. Provide a specific example of a time where you have been provided a goal, allowed to determine your own path to the goal, and how you achieved the goal.
  • This is a start-up position for our unit and we will face uncertainty, ambiguity, adversity and long hours of work. How will you handle these factors?
  • How do you motivate people in a constantly changing and relatively unstable work environment?

 

Interpersonal/Self Perception/Closing

  • How would your coworkers describe you?
  • How would your supervisor describe you?
  • What professional accomplishment are you most proud of and Why?
  • What professional experience are you least proud of and Why?
  • Describe your work ethic.
  • How are you maximizing your strengths and overcoming your challenges?
  • How do you know you are doing a good job? What kinds of personal benchmarks would you use to measure your contributions, performance and the results obtained?
  • What drives your professional life?
  • How do you go about living up to the way in which you define yourself?
  • How do you deal with stress?

 

Either / Or

Which would you prefer:

  • Go outside or read a book?
  • Describe a concept in a meeting using paper handouts, a powerpoint presentation or white board?
  • Create something new from a blank paper, or modify something already in existence?

 

Other Questions

  • What is the one question you expected us to ask? (then ask them to answer it)
  • If money were no object, what would you do for a living?
  • The world is yours to change; what would you do first?
  • When you leave, we’re going to talk about you. Please use one word to describe a characteristic that you want us to leave us with.

 

Scenarios

  • Let’s start with a couple scenarios. A moderate (not mild or catastrophic) earthquake has occurred in San Francisco, CA.  We have been asked to provide connectivity for 20 shelter sites that are all within a 75 miles radius.  Identify three methods that you’d use to establish voice communications between the sites along with the pros and cons of each.
  • A category 4 hurricane is going to make landfall in Jacksonville, FL in 48 hours. What are the disaster needs before, during and immediately after the storm, and how do they change?

 

Positions Specific Questions

  • How would you use health education models or techniques and apply it to the topic of disaster preparedness?
  • Please describe any research skills/experiences you have had, providing examples of recent projects where you have made a major contribution with these skills.
  • Our departmental focus is on public preparedness and education. What is “preparedness” to you and provide a specific example of how it applies to everyday life.
  • If effective human–to–human transmission of a novel flu virus was verified today and a pandemic started, what would you do?
  • What kinds of future-oriented initiatives need to be implemented to ensure that we are benefiting the public? organization? Partners? Give examples?
  • Tell me about how safety and risk management has been handled in your past experience with fleets. What is the biggest thing you learned by that?

 

Scale Questions

Please indicate your level of skill and/or knowledge for the following areas using a scale from 1 – 5 (5 being the highest).

  • Conducting literature reviews
  • Web-based research
  • Written communication (including Spanish or other language)
  • Verbal Communication (including Spanish or other language)
  • Project Management
  • Developing and conducting presentations
  • Team leadership
  • Developing project business plans
  • Developing data driven growth
  • Managing project teams
  • Forecasting sales and goals
  • Inventory Management

 

Ratings (can be used to rate any question)

Exceptionally thorough, articulate and to the point. Above average in  response; both content and context Fully acceptable  textbook or heartfelt answer Struggles with answer.  Not totally sure about topic Unsatisfactory answer or poor attitude towards topic
4 3 2 1 0