Interview Questions

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Career Exploration and Development
261 Schwartz Center

Behavioral Based Interview

The behavioral interview is based on the belief that the best predictor of a person’s future success is past behavior.

The interviewer will ask probing questions that require the candidate to share examples of how they have demonstrated particular behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Sample STAR story:

Situation (S):

Describe a specific situation that relates to the question.

Advertising revenue was falling off for my college newspaper, the Daily Kent Stater, and a large number of long-term advertisers were not renewing contracts.

Task (T):

Describe your task. What goals did you have?

My goal was to secure contracts with as many former and new advertisers as possible to generate more advertising revenue.

Action (A):

Describe the action that you took.

I designed a new promotional packet to go with the rating sheet and compared the benefits of Stater circulation with other advertising media in the area. I also arranged for a Marketing professor to conduct a special training session about selling strategies for the newspaper's account executives.

Result (R):

Describe the positive result or outcome of the situation.

We signed contracts with 15 former advertisers for daily ads and five for special supplement ads. Also, the paper increased the number of new advertisers by 20 percent over the same period last year.

Sample Behavioral Interview Questions

  • Give us an example of an occasion when you used logic to solve a problem.

  • Describe a decision you made that was unpopular and how you handled implementing it.

  • Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me about how you achieved it.

  • Have you ever gone above and beyond the call of duty? If so, how?

  • Tell me about a time when you worked effectively under pressure.

  • Have you handled a difficult situation with a co-worker? How?

  • Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with an upset customer or co-worker.

  • Tell me about a time when you had to take a risk.

  • Describe three leadership qualities you think are critical. How have you demonstrated these?

Difficult Questions

“Tell me about yourself.” Highlight your educational background and summarize your qualifications for the position, including related experience and skills. Keep your response to no longer than two minutes.

“What is your weakness?” or questions addressing lack of experience. You really don't want to present a negative image of yourself, but to say you have no weakness is unrealistic. Your weakness should not directly relate to any key job responsibilities of the position. Don't dwell on your weakness, instead, focus briefly on how you are improving in this area and support your comments with examples.

“Why do you want to work for us?” The best way to prepare for this question is to research the organization before the interview and actively listen for any additional information from the employer during the interview. The employer wants a candidate who is passionate about the organization. Your response should include specific information about the organization's products, services, mission, history or structure. Enthusiasm for the organization will get you noticed, but so will "buttering up," so keep your response genuine.

“Where do you want to be in five/ten years?” It's not expected that you'll know specifically where you'll be, but you'll need to show the employer some forward thinking. Construct your response in relation to job function (management, consulting, counseling, etc.) or education (advanced degree). "I would like to move into management at the local level and then perhaps later at the regional level." "After gaining experience in this sector, I would like to explore the possibility of consulting."

“Why should I hire you?” This may be one of the last questions asked, and it's an opportunity for you to quickly package yourself as the ideal candidate. At whatever point in the interview the question is asked, summarize your qualifications (related experience, skills, personality traits) that best match you to the position. Be confident but not arrogant in your response.

“Tell me about a rewarding accomplishment.” An applicant who can recall a particularly satisfying project– and talk about it in a balanced, comprehensive fashion – indicates an employee who has a knack for hanging on to important details. The question can also reveal an applicant who is good at thinking on his/her feet. While most of us feel awkward talking about ourselves, consider this an opportunity to share a special accomplishment and how you made it happen!

Inappropriate Questions

“How old are you?” “How’s your health?”
“Are you married?” “Any children?”

Try to understand where the employer is coming from and what they really want to know. Chances are the interviewer is really asking how much you're willing to travel or work overtime, or some other aspect of the position. Try to respond to the hidden question(s). For example: "If you are wanting to know if I'm available for evening programs, I can assure you that my schedule can be arranged accordingly."

For more information, visit the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:

Popular Interview Questions

  • How do you think a friend or professor who knows you well would describe you?

  • What do you consider to be your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

  • What have you learned from your mistakes?

  • What major challenge have you encountered and how did you deal with it?

  • What qualifications do you have that make you think you will be successful in this position?

  • What qualities should a successful supervisor possess?

  • Describe how you work under pressure.

  • In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our organization?

  • What two or three things are most important to you in your job?

  • What criteria are you using to evaluate the organization for which you hope to work?

Try InterviewPrep to practice interviewing online!