What Types of Questions Will I Be Asked?

Behavioral Questions provide interviewers with a pattern of behavior or performance to judge your fit for a job. The best predictor of future performance is past performance under similar circumstances. In answering questions, you should strive to provide examples which demonstrate that a particular positive behavior is long-standing.  

Behavioral questions usually begin with:

  • “Tell me about a time when you . . .”
  • “Give me an example of a time when you . . .”

Questions could include:

  • “Tell me about a time you exercised leadership.”
  • “Tell me about a time you dealt with interpersonal conflict.”

To prepare for behavioral questions, which are increasingly common in interviews, do the following:

  1. Carefully review the job description and skills required and construct answers based on these items. For example, if leadership and quantitative skills are required, construct “stories” describing how you exercised these skills.
  2. Make sure that your stories follow the STAR format. First, describe the Situation you faced. Then describe the Tasks that you felt needed to be accomplished. Third, describe the Actions you took. Finally, discuss the Results you obtained. Use only enough detail so that the interviewer can understand the degree to which you exercised your skills.
  3. Develop two stories each for about 5 different skills so that you have enough to handle other skills that might be requested. You can always change a story a bit to reflect a different skill.
  4. Make sure your story is about a specific situation. Don’t say “Well I’ve used my leadership skills in a lot of situations.”

Open-Ended Questions elicit behavioral samples and require detailed responses:

  • Discuss two or three factors that are most important to you in a job.
  • Describe your ideal job.
  • What are your short-term goals?
  • What are your long-term goals?
  • What is your greatest strength?
  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • In your opinion, what is success?
  • What is your greatest accomplishment?
  • How are you better than the other candidates I interviewed today?
  • What interests you most about this job?
  • What have you learned from your failures or mistakes?
  • What were your favorite subjects? Why?
  • Tell me about your work experience.
  • How can you contribute to our organization?
  • Why do you feel you have management potential?
  • How do you feel about your academic background?
  • What motivates you?
  • What is the biggest mistake you ever made?

Common Probing Questions verify or confirm information and can be answered with brief responses:

  • Are you open for relocation?
  • Why did you decide to attend this college?
  • How would you evaluate your last boss?
  • What didn’t you like about your previous employer?
  • Why have you been unemployed for so long?
  • Do you consider yourself a creative person?
  • What other employers are you considering?
  • Why didn’t you get better grades in school?
  • What makes you think that you can effectively supervise?
  • Why are you interested in this position?
  • Do you work independently?
  • Why are you seeking a career change?
  • What is your geographic preference?
  • To what extent have you been involved in extracurricular activities?
  • Do you have any hobbies or special interests?
  • Have you had any courses in ____________?
  • How do you handle yourself under stressful situations?
  • Why do you want to leave your employer after only 2 years?
  • How would you describe your study habits?


Check out the On-Site Interviews page for more interview preparation tips!