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Sample Interview Questions

Make a great impression by communicating your interest in and knowledge of the organization as well as the value you’ll add. Remember that the interview is a conversation. It’s your opportunity to communicate your brand and also assess alignment with your goals.

Model to Guide Your Answers

Describe specific situations in which you use requested skills and achieved desired results.

S = Situation [give the context]

T = Task [tell what needed to be done]

A = Actions [tell what you did]

R = Result [share the impact]

Share results/impact even if different than what you had hoped; tell what you learned and what you would do differently.

Practice Questions

Practice with these sample questions, grouped by subject:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Guide me through your resume.
  • Why did you choose Purdue?
  • What are your strengths/weaknesses?
  • What would you like to be doing in five years from now?
  • Which of your classes at Purdue would be of most value to this position and why?

(how you relate to others, ability to separate personalities from problems, conflict resolution)

  • Describe a time when you dealt with a difficult customer. Be specific.
  • Tell me about a situation where you did not get along with your supervisor.
  • Tell me about a time you had to work to get cooperation between several people. What steps did you take and what was the result?
  • Tell me about a time you delegated a project effectively.

(achieve a win-win outcome, make decisions under pressure or in ambiguous situations)

  • Have you ever recognized a problem before your boss or others in the organization? What did you do?
  • Tell me about the time you missed an obvious solution to a problem.
  • Tell me about a time you had to make a decision without much information at your disposal.
  • Describe a situation where you had to think on your feet to get yourself out of a difficult situation.
  • Give an example of a time when you had to deal with frequent organizational changes or unexpected events.

(determine work style, productivity, resourcefulness, integrity, job satisfaction)

  • Describe the type of environment that motivates your productivity.
  • Give me an example of a time when something you were working on “slipped through the cracks.”
  • If I called your former boss, how would he/she describe you?
  • What job factors are important to you and why?
  • Tell me about a time you were working on multiple projects that had conflicting deadlines.

(self-confidence, good judgment, ability to influence others, commitment, ethics)

  • Describe a situation where you had to take immediate action in a high-pressure situation.
  • Tell me about the time you had to go above and beyond the call of duty to get the job done.
  • Describe a project in your past position that failed.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to influence or persuade someone to do something for you that might have been an inconvenience for him/her.
  • Tell me about a time when you were most persuasive in overcoming resistance to your ideas or point of view.

(employee involvement, team player, characteristics and creation of high-performance teams)

  • What did you do in your last position to contribute toward team success?
  • Give me an example of your involvement in a team effort that was less than successful. What could you have done differently to make it more successful?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an unproductive team member. How did you handle the situation and what was the outcome?
  • Tell me about a difficult experience you have had while working in a group with diverse team members.

(clearly communicating goals and objectives, empowering others, using others’ expertise)

  • Define three qualities of a good leader. Which one do you need to work on most?
  • Describe a time when you reprimanded an employee for poor performance.
  • Describe your management style in dealing with staff and co-workers.
  • Tell me about the leader you most admire and why.

The Psychology Behind Interview Questions: What are They Really asking?

It is important to know that some employers ask questions that seem very simple; however, the hidden meaning behind the questions may not be simple at all. This primer is adapted from the book Money Jobs.

Click on each question to see what interviewers are really asking you:

They are really asking:
Can you take an incredible amount of information, organize it quickly in your head, and present it in a concise and articulate fashion?
They are really asking:
Are my perceptions of your strengths and weaknesses the same as yours? How mature are you in dealing with your weaknesses? Can you identify methods for self-improvement?
They are really asking:
What motivates you and what do you want out of life? Is this job merely a stepping stone to something better?
They are really asking:
Have you done your homework? Are you analytical?
They are really asking:
How do you see yourself? Are you a leader or a follower? (A quiet confidence is needed here — not arrogance or egotism).
They are really asking:
Have you accurately identified the skills and expertise needed to succeed? Can you prove you have them?
They are really asking:
How are your promotion and persuasion skills? Are you believable? If you can’t sell yourself, how will you be able to sell our products/company/ideas?