Interview Questions


Basic Interview Questions

While every interviewer will have their own style and information they desire to find, there are some common questions that are asked. Here are some possibilities that you should be prepared to answer as you head to an interview:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What attracted you to this position?
  • What do you consider to be your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are your short- and long-term goals?  Where do you see yourself in ten years?
  • Describe your most rewarding accomplishment.
  • What qualifications do you have that you think will make you successful in this position?
  • What do you think will be your biggest learning curve if you are offered this position?
  • Why are you interested in working for our company or organization?
  • What two or three things are most important to you in your job?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • Why did you choose Saint Mary’s?


Behavior-Based Interview Questions

A current trend in the business world that is spreading out to many interviews is the idea that your past behavior will predict your future performance. Because of this, some interview questions are becoming centered on what are called “behaviorally-based questions.” Preparing for these questions is much like preparing for any other questions: examine the significant roles you have had, refresh your memory on the responsibilities you have been given, think through your college experience and recall specific situations which may help you demonstrate the qualities for which the employers are looking. Many of these behaviorally-based questions will begin with “tell me about a time when…”

When it comes to answering behaviorally-based questions, there is a formula that encompasses the important facets for demonstrating your past skills and experiences, the STAR technique:

  • Situation: Describe the situation you were in when you demonstrated what they are asking.
  • Task: Discuss the task that was at hand.
  • Action: Talk about the specific steps you took to take care of the task.
  • Result: Reveal the result of this situation and incorporate what you learned from it.

Some common behaviorally-based questions may be:

  • Tell me a time when you had to handle conflict.
  • Tell me about a time when you worked with someone who was different than you.
  • Has there ever been a time where you worked on a group project and someone “dropped the ball”? What do you do in those types of situations?
  • Can you tell me about a specific goal you have set for yourself and how you went about achieving that goal?
  • Think of a time when you were really stressed. How do you handle and react to stress?
  • Can you think of a time when you perhaps “dropped the ball”?

Here is an example of the STAR technique used to answer a common interview question:

                “Tell me about a time when you displayed leadership.”

Situation: When I was in college, I was involved in a student organization that brought different speakers to campus depending on the needs of the student body. We developed symposiums that spanned weekends as well as speakers who would just give a one-night lecture.

Task:  As a junior, I was on the committee to select the speakers. While it was hard to address all the student needs, we really tried to get a plethora of speakers who would be able to address overlapping concerns and topics of interest. For this specific situation, we were scheduled to bring in a specific speaker for a one-night lecture that many of the students were really interested in and it was somewhat of a controversial topic. However, the day before the lecture, there was a big snow storm and our speaker informed us that she would not be able to make it since all the flights were being cancelled in her area.

Action: This sent the entire committee into a panic. However, I knew that there were some local women who were involved in education on this topic as well. I suggested that we turn the lecture into a panel discussion and attempt to bring in people from South Bend who would be able to facilitate discussion as well as answer questions that any of the students asked. I began researching and put together a list of everyone I could think of that would be an asset to this discussion. From there, I broke the possibilities up into smaller groups and our committee spent the next few hours on the phone explaining what happened and what we needed.

Result: In the end, it ended up being a huge success! The students really enjoyed the panel approach and the experts that were able to come did a great job facilitating the discussion. We were completely relieved. In fact, this night was such a huge success, that we repeated it in the fall on a different topic. So I learned from this situation that nothing is a complete disaster. There is always something that can be done, no matter how creative, to solve the problem. I learned that I have the ability to take charge of situations and solve problems, but I also learned that we had to work together in order to resolve this situation.


End of the Interview Questions

At the end of every interview, you will often be asked if you have any questions for your interviewers. Depending upon who is involved in the meeting, your questions will vary but you will always need to have questions ready. Make sure that whatever you decide to ask, the information is not something that could be found on the company website or that you could have figured out if you had done a bit more research. By asking questions of your interviewers, you are demonstrating that you are really interested in the company or organization as well as the position. Some possible questions to ask employers are:

  • What skills and abilities would you ideally look for in the person filling this position?
  • What will the major responsibilities of this position be?
  • How would you describe a typical day in this job?
  • How does one advance in the organization?
  • What is the greatest challenge your organization faces or will face within the next year?
  • What are the challenging facets of this position?
  • What will be expected of me as a new employee?
  • Why do you enjoy working for this company or organization?
  • If I am extended an offer, how soon would you like me to start?
  • When can I expect to hear from you?
  • May I have your business card?


Illegal Interview Questions

Check out the following online resources for illegal interview questions:


Additional Online Resources