Sample Interview Questions

From the employer’s perspective, the purpose of an interview is to determine a candidate’s knowledge and skills, fit for the role, and genuine interest in the position and company. Depending on the type of question an employer asks, there may may be specific information, skills, or qualities they are trying to assess. See example questions below to prepare yourself for your next interview.

Personal assessment

An employer’s goal with any personal assessment questions is to gain insight into whether or not you would be a good fit for the company and role based on your experience, skills, and values. The first interview prompt you are likely to receive in an interview is, “Tell me about yourself.” Rather than walking the employer through your work and life’s history detail-by-detail, this is opportunity to introduce your current relevant experience, skills and strengths you have developed over time, and reasons for applying to the role.

Another common personal assessment question is “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” When approaching this question, highlight strengths or themes from your past experience that are directly related to the role. When addressing weaknesses, avoid discussing a weakness that is important to the role for which you are applying. Additionally, discuss how you have (or are continuing to) overcome and address it.

  • Sample Personal Assessment Questions
    • Tell me about yourself
    • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
    • Describe your ideal job.
    • Define success. Define failure.
    • What can you offer us?
    • What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?
    • What makes a good leader?

Company or organization

The interview process is an opportunity for the hiring manager to get a sense of your genuine interest in their company or organization. Review our tips on preparing for your next interview to learn about different ways you can research a target company and feel prepared when responding to these types of questions.

  • Sample Company/Organization Questions
    • Why do you want to work for (company/organization)?
    • What do you know about (company/organization)?
    • What (area, service, or product) are you most interested in?
    • How do you feel about working in a structured environment? A non-structured environment?
    • What do you think it takes to be successful in a company such as ours?
    • In what ways do you think you can contribute to (company/organization)?
    • How long would you expect to work here?
    • Are you willing to work overtime?
    • Are you willing to go where the company sends you?
    • What type of environment are you most comfortable with?
    • Why do you think you might like to live in (area where company is located)?

Education and experience

An employer may ask you about your educational background to validate that you are qualified for the role, better understand how your education has prepared you, and/or get a sense of your working style, preferences, and values.

  • Sample Education and Experience Questions
    • Describe your most rewarding accomplishment since you’ve started college.
    • Tell me about the most satisfying job you ever held. The least?
    • What kind of boss do you prefer?
    • What frustrates you on the job?
    • How would a former supervisor describe your work?

Career ambition and plans

Interview questions about your career goals and ambition are used by employers to learn more about your motivations to work, your developmental needs or your career longevity. Career goals and ambitions can be focused on professional and leadership development, educational advancement, or personal. Regardless of what these ambitions are, be sure to focus your responses through the lens of the employer and within the functions of the role.

  • Sample Career Ambition Questions
    • What are your long-range and short-range goals and objectives?
    • What qualities does a successful manager possess?
    • What qualities does a successful team player possess?
    • What kind of challenge are you looking for?
    • What do you think determines a person’s progress in a good company?
    • What are your ideas on salary?
    • What personal characteristics are necessary for success in your field?
    • Do you prefer to work on your own or under a supervisor?
    • How are you conducting your job search and how will you go about making your decision?

Behavioral questions

In behavioral interviews, candidates are asked to give specific examples of when they demonstrated particular behaviors or skills related to the target role. The purpose of behavioral interviewing is to objectively measure a potential employee’s past behaviors as a predictor of future results.

  • Sample Behavioral Questions
    • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with someone whose personality was different from yours.
    • Give me an example of a time where you had to carry out a directive with which you did not agree.
    • Give me an example of when you showed initiative in solving a problem.
    • Tell me about a time you took on a leadership role.
    • Tell me about your most successful presentation and what made it so.
    • Tell em about a meeting where you provided technical expertise. How did you ensure that everyone understood?
    • Tell me about a time when there was conflict in a job/lab/class project. How did you handle it?
    • Describe a time when you took a risk.
    • What were the biggest challenges/problems you encountered in college? How did you handle them?
    • Talk about a time when you had trouble getting along with a professor/team member/supervisor?
    • Describe a situation in which you used persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
    • By providing examples, convince me you can adapt to a wide variety of people, situations, and environments.
    • Give me an example of a time in which you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision.

Closing questions

Before your interview comes to a close, your interviewer may want to discuss logistics and next steps, hear any questions you have, or provide the opportunity for you share any additional information. If you are asked, “Is there anything else I should know about you?” this may be a great time to shed light on any experiences you haven’t had the opportunity to discuss yet, or reiterate your excitement and interest in the role.

  • Sample Closing Questions
    • When could you start work?
    • Why should I hire you?
    • What makes you the best person for this job?
    • Is there anything else I should know about you?
    • Do you have any other questions?

Unusual questions

You may be asked an unusual or curve-ball question in an interview, which will require you to stay cool, think under pressure and most importantly, be yourself. Remember with these types of questions that there are no “right” answers. Instead, the employer is trying to gauge your approach to problem solving and creativity, as well as get a sense of your personality.

  • Sample Closing Questions
    • If you could be a superhero, which would you be and why?
    • Why are manhole covers round? (Google)
    • Do you prefer cats or dogs?
    • 25 racehorses, no stopwatch. 5 tracks. Figure out the top three fastest horses in the fewest number of races. (Facebook)
    • Name five uses for a stapler without staples.
    • How would you solve a problem if you were from Mars? (Amazon)
    • How would you describe making an omelet to someone who has never made one before?

Looking to practice your interviewing skills? Book a behavioral mock interview on Handshake to practice your responses and receive constructive feedback with a CAPD advisor. You can also learn more about interviewing on the site.