Common and Competency Area Interview Questions

Common Questions

  • Tell me about yourself.

  • Walk me through your resume.

  • What is it about our organization that attracted you?

  • Describe what is it about the position that prompted you to apply.

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?

  • Describe your ideal working environment.

  • What are your goals, both short and long term?

  • If I spoke to your last boss, how would they describe your work style?

  • How would you describe yourself?

  • Tell me about your previous experience that relates to this position.

  • What motivates you to succeed or do your best?

  • What, do you feel, separates you from other candidates?

  • What qualities do you have that would be helpful on this job?

  • Is there anything important that you haven't had a chance to tell me about?

  • What salary are you seeking?

  • Do you have any questions for me?

  • Why did you leave (or why are you leaving) your job?


Competency Area Questions


Teamwork/Cooperation

  • Please give me your best example of working cooperatively as a team member to accomplish an important goal.

  • What was the goal or objective?

  • What was your role in achieving this objective?

  • Describe a project you were responsible for that required a lot of interaction with others over a long time period.


Customer Service

  • Provide an example of a time when you had to address an angry customer.

  • What was the problem and what was the outcome?

  • How would you assess your role in defusing the situation?

  • What might you have done differently?

  • Tell me about a marketing/information initiative you developed.

  • How did it meet customer need(s)?


Commitment to Quality Improvement

  • Tell me about a suggestion you made to improve the way job processes or operations worked.

  • What was the result?

  • Give me an example of when you initiated a change in process or operations.

  • Tell me about a time when you had to compromise a company policy.

  • In your last job, what problems did you identify that had previously been overlooked?

  • Were changes made?

  • How were they received?


Creativity/Innovation

  • Describe the most significant or creative presentation/idea that you developed/implemented.

  • Describe a time when you came up with a creative solution/idea/project to a problem in your work.


Flexibility

  • By providing examples, demonstrate that you can adapt to a variety of people, situations and/or environments.

  • What do you do when priorities change quickly?

  • Give me one example of when this happened.

  • What are some things your current employer could do to keep you?


Continuous Learning/Development

  • Describe a decision you made or a situation that you would have handled differently if you had to do it over again.

  • If I were to ask you current supervisor problems that they have with your performance, what would they tell me?

  • After having been made aware of a problem in your performance, what was your course of action?

  • Tell me about a time when your supervisor/co-workers gave you feedback about your work/actions.

  • What did you learn about yourself?

  • What have you done to further your own professional development?

  • Tell me about a recent experience that you would describe as a real learning experience, and what did you learn?


Leadership/Initiative

  • What risks did you take in your present/previous job? Tell me about it.

  • Tell me about your efforts to “sell” a new idea to your supervisor.

  • Describe a time when you sought out additional responsibility and went beyond what was required of you.


Mutual Respect

  • Tell me about a time when you had to resolve a difference of opinion with a co-worker/customer/supervisor.

  • Tell me about a time when you needed to give feedback to a sensitive/emotional employee. What was the outcome?

  • Same question but regarding a student/alumni.

  • Describe the way you handled a problem involving those with different values, ideas and beliefs.


Interpersonal Skills

  • Give me an example of a time when you had to address an angry customer.

  • What was the problem and outcome?

  • Tell me about the most difficult challenge you faced in trying to work cooperatively with someone who did not share the same ideas.

  • What was the long-term impact on your ability to get things done while working with this person?

  • Describe a work situation that required you to really listen and display compassion to a co-worker/student who was telling you about a personal/sensitive situation.


Sensitivity to Diversity

  • Tell me about a time when you had to adapt to a wide variety of people by understanding their perspective.

  • Tell me about a time that you successfully adapted to a culturally different environment.

  • How have you taken responsibility/accountability for an action that may have been offensive to the recipient?

  • What have you done to make another person feel comfortable in an environment that was uncomfortable with their presence?


Honesty/Equality

  • Tell me about a specific time when you had to handle a tough problem which challenged fairness or ethical issues.

  • Tell me about a tough decision you made.

  • What steps, thought processes, and considerations did you take to make an objective decision?

  • Provide an example which provides insight into how you handle office gossip.


Effective Conflict Resolution

  • Describe your relationship with your supervisor.

  • Tell me about a time when you and your supervisor disagreed but you still found a way to convey your point.

  • Thinking of the most difficult person you have had to deal with, describe an interaction illustrating that difficulty.

  • Tell me about the last time you dealt with him/her.


Positive Attitude

  • What 3 specific things about your last job gave you the most satisfaction? Why?

  • What have you done in your last job that makes you feel proud?

  • Describe your best boss and your worst boss.


Planning/Organization/Prioritizing

  • Give me a specific example of a time when you did not meet a deadline.

  • How did you handle it?

  • Are you better at working on many things at a time, or are you better at working on and getting results on a few specific things?

  • Please give me two examples that illustrate this.

  • Name one of your best accomplishments, including where the assignment came from, your plans in carrying it out, how you eventually did carry it out, and any obstacles your overcame.

  • Of your current assignments, which required the greatest amount of effort in planning/organization?

  • How did you accomplish this assignment?

  • How would you assess your effectiveness?


Make Effective Decisions

  • Tell me about a decision you made but wish you had done differently.

  • Tell me about a time when you had to make an unpopular decision.

  • How do you define common sense? Describe a time recently when you had to rely on common sense.



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