Employment Process Manual, Interview Questions



Type of Question Use Examples
Open-ended questions Show an interest in the applicant and encourage the sharing of ideas and observations.

Questions that cannot be answered with a "yes" or "no" - they require an explanation; draw the applicant out and give interviewer more information.

How would you describe your present responsibilities and duties?

What do you look for in a job?

Of all the aspects of your last job, what did you like the most? the least?

Direct questions These questions request specific information and are usually answered with short responses or a simple yes or no.

Direct questions are valuable when focusing on a particular issue or when clarifying the response to another question.

When did you do this kind of work?

Why did you leave your last job?

Reflective questions These questions cannot be planned; they arise during the interview.

They show that the interviewer has listened to what the applicant has said and would like further clarification.

They are used to probe for more information.

You mentioned that your previous supervisor was unfair; could you give me an example of this?

You mentioned there was a conflict with another department. Could you tell me more about what happened and what you did to resolve the problem?

Could you explain what you meant when you said that your job description had changed?

Situational questions Situational (or problem solving) questions are hypothetical examples of typical work-related issues.

You can gain insight into the applicant's motivation, resourcefulness, ability to work with others, or how the applicant might react in the work environment.

One of your students has missed several classes, arrives late, leaves at break, turns in late or incomplete assignments (or nothing at all), and does poorly on tests.

The student has made no attempt to discuss her situation with you.

Although on several occasions you have made an effort to counsel her and have advised her that she is in danger of failing, her absences and shoddy work continue.

Thirteen weeks into the fifteen-week semester the student asks if she can do an extra credit project to raise her grade.

How would you handle this?

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Interview Questions

Following are sequences of questions that relate to specific position requirements for managers, recent graduates and clerical staff. No one sequence of questions is perfect for every position. It is important to customize your questions to the specific requirements of each position. You probably will find some that do not meet your particular needs and can add a few of your own favorites. Remember, many of these questions should be used in concert with probing in order to obtain a full understanding of an individual's experience and knowledge.

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Entry-Level Interview Questions

Educational Background

  • Why did you enroll at this university?
  • How would you describe your academic achievement?
  • How did you choose your major?
  • What college subjects have you enjoyed most? Why?
  • What school year was most difficult, and why?
  • What changes would you make in your school?
  • Tell me about your most rewarding college experience.
  • What are your plans for further education?
  • What extracurricular activities did you enjoy?
  • How do you think college contributed to your overall development?
  • Do you think first employers should consider college grades?
  • How do I know your capabilities?
  • What have you learned from your mistakes in school?

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Work History

  • How would you describe the ideal job for you?
  • What kind of work interests you most?
  • Explain your understanding of this job's responsibilities.
  • Do you feel you still have anything to learn after all your years of academic study? What?
  • Which summer job did you enjoy most? Why?
  • How many levels of management did you interact with?
  • What was the job's biggest challenge?
  • Tell me about a responsibility you have enjoyed.
  • What has been your least valuable work experience?
  • How would your references describe you?

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Willingness, Leadership Potential

  • If you were hiring a graduate for this position, what would you be looking for?
  • What have you done that shows initiative and willingness to work?
  • What would you look for in potential leaders for this organization?
  • What experience have you had in leadership positions?
  • As a leader, have your decisions ever been unpopular?
  • When the pressure of work is high, where does your energy come from?
  • Tell me about a time when unexpected events demanded that you reschedule your time.

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Future Career

  • Why are you interviewing with us?
  • What do you know about our organization?
  • What do you expect out of this job opportunity?
  • What do you like best about this job?
  • What do you like least?
  • How will this job help you reach your long-term personal and career goals?
  • What is more important at the start of your career, money or the job?
  • What do you feel are the disadvantages of this field?
  • Where do you think you could make the biggest contribution to this organization?
  • What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
  • How long would you anticipate staying with the organization?
  • How do you define a successful career?
  • What can you do for us that someone else can't?
  • What special characteristics should I consider about you?

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Goals, Organization

  • What are your long-range goals?
  • How do you plan your day, your week?
  • How do you determine your priorities?
  • An overwhelming, time-sensitive task has just been assigned to you. How do you plan to meet your deadline?
  • What happens when two priorities compete for your time?
  • When short-term goals clash with long-term ones, which takes priority and why?

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Verbal Communication

  • Getting the job done involves gathering information and input from others. How do you do this?
  • What is the toughest communication problem you have faced?
  • Tell me how you have verbally convinced someone of an approach or an idea.
  • Tell me about a time you have compromised successfully.
  • In what situations are you inflexible?
  • How do you overcome objections to your ideas?

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Written Communication

  • When have your verbal communications been important enough to follow up in writing?
  • Are there situations better suited to written communication?
  • What is the most difficult paper you have written?

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Stress, Flexibility

  • Tell me about a time when someone lost his or her temper with you in a business environment.
  • Have you ever worked in a place where it seemed to be one crisis after another?
  • What contributed to this situation?
  • What makes you feel tense or nervous?
  • What is the most frustrating work-related experience you have faced?
  • What do you do when you are being pressed for a decision?

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Decision Making

  • How will you evaluate the organization for which you hope to work?
  • What makes you think you have what it takes to be successful in this business?
  • Do you take an intuitive or logical approach to solving problems?
  • What kinds of decisions are toughest for you?

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Developmental Areas

  • What do you see as some of your most pressing developmental needs? Why?
  • What have the disappointments of life taught you?
  • Tell me about something you started but couldn't finish.

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Teamwork

  • Define cooperation.
  • What is the difference between a friend and a colleague?
  • Can you think of a time when you have successfully motivated a friend or colleague to achieve a difficult goal?
  • How will you establish a working relationship with individuals in this organization?
  • How would you work with the different opinions in a team in order to reach a goal?
  • Define a good work atmosphere.

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Manageability

  • What qualities should a successful manager possess?
  • What do you feel should be the relationship between the manager and staff?
  • Describe the toughest manager you ever had.
  • How do you react to criticism?
  • Tell me about an occasion when school or employer policies have been unfair to you.
  • For what have you been most frequently criticized?

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Clerical Interview Questions

Work History

  • Describe a typical work day.
  • What skills can you bring to this position, other than the ones required in the job description?
  • What accomplishments are you most proud of?
  • What aspects of your job give you most enjoyment?
  • What aspects of your job cause you the most problems?

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Ability, Suitability

  • What would you change about your current job?
  • How do you handle repetitive tasks?
  • What are you looking for in your next job?
  • What do you think are the personal qualities this job demands?
  • What aspects of your job do you consider the most crucial?
  • How would you describe yourself in terms of your work?
  • Tell me about your role in a crisis situation.
  • Have you ever worked for more than one manager?
  • How does your job relate to the overall success of your department and the organization?
  • Tell me about a time when your manager was absent and you had to make a decision.
  • What special responsibilities or assignments have you been given?
  • Tell me about an occasion when you chose not to finish a particular task. What was the reason for your decision?
  • Have you ever found it necessary to sacrifice personal plans in favor of your professional responsibilities?
  • Describe what you think a typical day would be like on this job.
  • Tell me about a time when your performance did not live up to your expectations.
  • Where do you see yourself six months from now?
  • What kind of work interests you most?
  • If you could have any job in this organization, what would it be?
  • How would that job help you reach your long-term personal and career goals?
  • How do you define a successful career?

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Willingness

  • Do you ever find it necessary to go beyond the call of duty to get a job done?
  • What role do you play in ensuring a smooth working environment when your boss is away?
  • What have you done to become more effective in your career?
  • If you went to your boss for a raise, why would you be doing it?

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Flexibility, Stress

  • How many levels of management do you deal with?
  • What type of people do you get along with best?
  • How do you get along with people whom you don't like?
  • How necessary is it to be creative in your job?
  • Describe the toughest business situation you have ever faced.
  • How many projects can you handle at a time?
  • How do you prioritize your projects?
  • When have you rescheduled your time to accommodate an unexpected workload?
  • Have you ever been affected by communication problems between two managers? How did you handle this situation?
  • Have you ever dealt with the general public?
  • Do you handle personal matters for your boss? Explain.
  • When was the last time something or someone got you really upset at work?
  • Tell me about a time when you put your foot in your mouth.
  • The receptionist has gone home sick. Are you prepared to fill in for her, even though the job is beneath your level of responsibilities?

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Written Communication

  • Tell me about the kinds of communication you type at work.
  • Do you ever compose letters for others? Examples.
  • How do you set up a letter? An invoice?
  • What was the most complex document you ever produced?
  • What forms or documents have you developed for your department?

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Planning, Organization

  • Describe your method for tracking important matters.
  • How do you plan your day?
  • How would you plan for a major project?
  • Do you set goals for yourself? How?
  • Tell me about a time when, despite careful planning, things got out of hand.

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Teamwork

  • Have you ever worked with a group like this before?
  • How do you establish a working relationship with new people?
  • Tell me how you see your Responsibilities as a group member.
  • What kind of people do you like to work with?
  • What kind of people don't you like to work with?
  • What do you do when you have to work with these people?
  • Have you ever had to stifle your normal behavior to get along with someone? Explain.
  • How do you feel about people who don't like their jobs?
  • How do you define a good work atmosphere?

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Manageability

  • How does your manager get the best out of you?
  • How do you get the best out of your manager?
  • What do you think of your current manager?
  • If you could make one constructive suggestion, what would it be?
  • Describe the best manager you ever had.
  • Describe the worst manager you ever had.
  • What made them stand out?
  • How do you react to criticism?
  • Describe the toughest manager you ever worked for.
  • Tell me what kind of rewards makes you feel adequately recognized for your contributions.
  • How do your work habits change when your manager is out of the office?
  • How could your manager do a better job?
  • In what ways has your manager contributed to your reason for leaving your job?

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Management Interview Questions

Ability

  • How long have you been in management?
  • How would you define the job of a manager?
  • How many people do you manage?
  • What level and types of people do you manage?
  • How long have you held these management responsibilities?
  • Do these people report directly and solely to you?
  • Who hired and who fires these people?
  • How creative do you see a management role to be?
  • How do you quantify the result of your job?
  • How far in advance do you and management typically make specific decisions about directional changes?

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Day-to-Day Management Skills

  • How would you characterize your management style?
  • Explain the limit of your management responsibilities by explaining the types of decisions that are beyond your authority.
  • How often do you prepare reports? What types?
  • With what other departments do you deal?
  • What responsibilities do you hold in relation to other departments?
  • How do you schedule projects, assignments and vacations?
  • Tell me about a recent crisis.

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Hiring

  • How many people have you hired?
  • How have you learned to interview?
  • How do you plan an interview?
  • What questions do you like to ask? What do they reveal about candidates?
  • What has been your biggest hiring mistake?

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Employee Orientation

  • What steps do you normally take to get a new employee oriented in the department and the organization?
  • How do you analyze the training needs of your department or of specific individuals?
  • Have you ever trained individuals?

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Communication, Motivation

  • How important is communication and interaction with the staff to you?
  • What are some of the tasks you typically delegate?
  • How do you maintain checks and balances on employee performance?
  • What things cause the most friction in your department?
  • Do you feel it is your responsibility to adapt to your employees or their responsibility to adapt to you?
  • With what types of employees do you get along best?
  • What types of employees cause the most problems for you?
  • Tell me about a time when morale was low. What did you do about it?
  • When have you seen proven motivational techniques fail?
  • Tell me some of the ways you have seen other managers demotivate employees.
  • Have you ever become involved in an employee's personal problems?
  • How do you keep your staff aware of company information and activities?
  • Have you ever faced a situation with a staff member who was being less than direct with you about his or her activities?
  • How do you organize and run department meetings?

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Authority, Discipline

  • How do you set objectives for you and your staff?
  • Have you ever had to make unpopular decisions?
  • What are some of the everyday problems you face with your staff?
  • Have you ever worked with a group that jointly resisted management authority?
  • What management situation is personally most difficult for you?
  • What employee behavior makes you angry?
  • What do you do when a team member breaks corporate policy?

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Turnover

  • How do you handle poor employee performance?
  • What was the turnover in your department over the last three years?
  • What type of turnover was most frequent:  terminations or resignations?
  • How many people have you terminated?
  • What is the most common cause of termination?
  • What steps do you take before deciding to terminate?
  • How have you gone about forecasting staffing needs?
  • Have you ever experienced problems with compensation levels when trying to attract new employees?

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Fiscal Responsibility

  • Do you hold budgetary responsibility in your department? What is it?
  • What is your involvement in budget planning?
  • What has been the most expensive fiscal mistake of your career?

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Manageability

  • How do you react to criticism?
  • What have you been most criticized for as a manager?
  • What have you and other managers disagreed about?
  • What do you do when there is a decision to be made and no procedure exists?
  • How have past managers gotten the best out of you?
  • How would you describe the best manager you ever had?
  • Tell me about the worst manager you ever had.
  • Tell me about a time when you felt that management had made an emotional rather than logical decision about your work.
  • When have you been described as inflexible?
  • How does your job relate to the overall goals of the organization?
  • How often are you involved in making formal presentations or proposals to management or customers?
  • How do you define the difference between supervision and management?
  • How do you play the political office game?
  • What work issues bother you most?
  • If you could make one constructive suggestion to management, what would it be?

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Want more info? Contact us.

Contact Human Resources
Seminole State College
100 Weldon Boulevard
Sanford, FL 32773-6199
Phone: 407.708.2101
Fax: 407.708.2425