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Student Professional Development Center

PREPARE FOR YOUR INTERVIEWS

Schedule a Mock Interview with a Career Advisor, or arrange for a Mock interview with employment recruiters from area companies at certain times during the year.  Check with the Student Professional Development Center for more information.

Anticipate the questions you will be asked during an interview and prepare and practice your responses to those questions and other common interview questions. Also, practice and prepare questions for the interviewer based on your knowledge of the position, the company, and the industry.

INTERVIEW QUESTION TYPES

BEHAVIORAL
Many employers use behavioral interviewing for screening candidates. Behavioral interview questions ask you to describe situations you have experienced, explain how you handled the situation, and share the results you achieved. The theory behind behavioral interviewing is that the best indicator of future behavior is past performance. An effective method to use in answering behavioral questions is the S-T-A-R statement, where you “tell your story” by using this outline:
SITUATIONAL OR TASK 
Describe the situation you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. 
ACTION
Describe the actions you took to resolve the situation or to accomplish the task. 
RESULT OR OUTCOME
Share the results of your efforts—what you accomplished or learned. Quantify your results if possible.
Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.

  • Describe an instance when you had to think on your feet to extricate yourself from a difficult situation.
  • Give a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
  • Describe a time when you were faced with problems or stresses that tested your coping skills.
  • Give an example of a time in which you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision.
  • Describe a time when you had to use your written communication skills to get an important point across.
  • Discuss a specific occasion in which you conformed to a policy with which you did not agree.
  • Give an example of an important goal which you had set in the past and tell me about your success in reaching it.
  • Speak to a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
  • Sometimes it's easy to get in "over your head." Describe a situation where you had to request help or assistance on a project or assignment.
  • Describe a situation in which you had to arrive at a compromise or guide others to a compromise.
  • What steps do you follow to study a problem before making a decision?
  • We can sometimes identify a small problem and fix it before it becomes a major problem. Give an example(s) of how you have done this.
  • In a supervisory or group leader role, have you ever had to discipline or counsel an employee or group member? What was the nature of the discipline? What steps did you take? How did that make you feel? How did you prepare yourself?
  • Recall a time from your work experience when your manager or supervisor was unavailable and a problem arose. What was the nature of the problem? How did you handle that situation? How did that make you feel?
  • Recall a time when you were assigned what you considered to be a complex project. Specifically, what steps did you take to prepare for and finish the project? Were you happy with the outcome? What one step would you have done differently if given the chance?
  • Tell of some situations in which you have had to adjust quickly to changes over which you had no control. What was the impact of the change on you?

TRADITIONAL QUESTIONS

Employers utilize these questions to find out basic information about your professional past and future professional goals, what motivates you, and what you would consider as your strengths and weaknesses.

  • How would you describe yourself?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • What are your long range and short range goals and objectives?
  • What specific goals other than those related to your occupation, have you established for yourself for the next ten years?
  • What do you see yourself doing five years from now? Ten years from now?
  • What do you really want to do in life?
  • What are your long range career objectives?
  • How do you plan to achieve your career goals?
  • What are the most important rewards you expect in your career?
  • Why did you choose this career?
  • Can you explain this gap in your employment history?
  • Describe the best job you've ever had.
  • Describe the best supervisor you've ever had.
  • Why should you be hired?
  • What makes you qualified for this position?
  • In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our company?
  • If you were hiring a job-seeker for this position, what qualities would you look for?
  • What can you tell us about our company?
  • What interests you about our products?
  • What do you know about our competitors?

BE PREPARED TO ASK QUESTIONS

Have at least ten questions prepared to ask employers at the end of the interview.

  • What would a normal working day be like?
  • Where does this position fit within the organizational structure?
  • What is the typical career path for a person in this position?
  • How is the training program structured?
  • What opportunities are available for staff development?
  • How is this position evaluated?
  • Describe the corporate culture and values.
  • What do you like most about working for this organization?
  • How would you characterize the management philosophy of this organization? Of your department?
  • What is the organization's policy on transfers to other divisions or other offices?
  • Are lateral or rotational job moves available?

DO NOT ASK

  • What is the salary for this position?  What are the benefits?
  • How much vacation time do I get?

ILLEGAL QUESTIONS

Employers are to ask interview questions that provide information on your professional skills and relevant experiences. Questions that address such things as nationality, disability, marital status, religion, or age are illegal. 

  • Are you a U.S. citizen?
  • What is your native tongue?
  • What religion do you practice?
  • Which religious holidays do you observe?
  • How old are you?
  • When do you plan to retire?
  • Are you married or partnered?
  • Do you have children or plan to have children?
  • We've always had a man/woman do this job. How do you think you will stack up?
  • What do you think of interoffice dating?
  • How many sick days did you take last year?
  • Are you disabled?
  • Have you had any recent or past illnesses or operations?
  • Are you single?