Preparing for a Job Interview

CONGRATULATIONS! Your resume and cover letter worked! You have a job interview! Now you have to prepare for your interview through research and the development of a personal inventory.


Job Interview Question Examples

Traditional Job Interview Sample Questions

Interview questions like these have been used by employers for decades. Traditional questions help the interviewer focus on a job candidates’ basic credentials. Research indicates that they are not particularly good indicators of future performance, yet many employers still use them. You should therefore prepare for them.


  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. Do you have the qualifications and personal characteristics necessary for success in this position?
  3. Given the investment our company will make in hiring and training you, can you give us a reason to hire you?

Skills, Strengths, Weaknesses

  1. What are your top three skills for this job?

  2. What strengths do you bring to this position?
  3. What weaknesses do you have that could be a problem in your work?
  4. What quality or attribute do you feel will most contribute to your career success?


  1. What specific goals, including those related to your career, have you established for your life?
  2. What will it take to attain your goals, and what steps have you taken toward attaining them?
  3. What do you think it takes to be successful in this career?
  4. What (short-term/long-term) goals and objectives have you established for yourself?
  5. What plans do you have for continued study or training?

Accomplishments / Performance

  1. What has been your most rewarding accomplishment?

  2. How would you describe yourself in terms of your ability to work as a member of a team?
  3. What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?
  4. How would you evaluate your ability to deal with conflict?
  5. How do you deal with multi-tasking challenges?

Conflict / Stress

  1. How do you resolve conflict?

  2. Would you say that you can easily deal with high-pressure situations?

Persuasion, Problem-Solving, Good Thinking, Decision-Making

  1. What steps do you follow to study a problem before making a decision?

  2. What strategies can be effective to persuade someone to do something?

Related to the Company

  1. Why do you want to work here?

  2. What do you know about our company / organization / business?
  3. Do you think the services we provide / products we make are important?
  4. Would it be a problem for you to travel / relocate?


  1. What level of compensation would it take to make you happy?
  2. Tell me about the salary range you're seeking
Situational Job Interview Sample Questions

Situational questions ask what the candidate would do in a relevant hypothetical situation. The interviewer describes a scenario or defines a task that the candidate would typically face or have to do on the job. The candidate must then describe how he or she would handle the situation or complete the task.

One way to prepare for situational question responses is to:

  1. List your relevant skills and how you’ve used them
  2. List your challenges and how you’ve met them
  3. List your major accomplishments and successes and then the actions you took to gain them
  4. Prepare brief stories from your experiences that can turn a hypothetical situation into an actual situation which better markets your experience and actual skills

Keep in mind the who, what, where, when, why and how of possible situational questions that will come up in interviews. Planning ahead by doing this can really pay off when faced with challenging questions that start like these:

  1. Who would you talk to if …?
  2. What would you do if …?
  3. When would it be appropriate to …?
  4. Where would you make changes in the process if...?
  5. Why would a manager do … in this situation?
  6. How would you organize…?
  7. Or How would you react if …?

Specific examples of situational questions:

  1. A co-worker told you in confidence that another co-worker is habitually stealing. What would you do and why?
  2. As a supervisor, you've made an unpopular decision. What action would you take so that morale in the department is not negatively affected?
  3. What would you do if the work of a team member was not up to expectations?
  4. You don’t have the expertise necessary to complete an assigned task. Your co-workers and supervisor are unavailable for you to ask for assistance. How do you handle this?
  5. In a new-hire training session, one of several trainees is continually interrupting you by asking unrelated questions. You’ve already asked her to save the unrelated questions for another time. What would you do next?
  6. List the steps that you would take to do ….
  7. As a supervisor you’ve identified an employee who doesn’t stay on task, is sometimes late to work, and distracts others from their work. What action would you take so that morale in the department is not negatively affected?
  8. You can’t complete an important project by an agreed upon deadline because your co-worker didn’t contribute her part yet. What would you do?
  9. How would you deal with a colleague or supervisor at work with whom you seem to be unable to build a successful working relationship?
  10. When would it be appropriate to bring in your supervisor while dealing with an angry customer?
About Behavioral Job Interview Questions

Today, employers are using more behavioral questions in job interviews. Some are using them exclusively. These are questions that ask you to give specific examples of past experiences or behaviors. Successful behavioral interviewing is challenging because it forces you to think critically about yourself and your behavior related to your past job experiences. The use of behavioral questions results in a more accurate prediction of job performance success compared to other types of interview questions.

Be prepared by knowing the 3-step STAR method of answering behavioral questions:

  1. Describe the Situation that you were in or the Task that you needed to accomplish. You must describe a specific event or situation, not a generalized description of what you have done in the past. Be sure to give enough detail for the interviewer to understand.
  2. List the Actions you took in response to the situation, focusing on what you did.
  3. Share the Resolution or Results. What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn?

A complete answer must include all three parts!

An example of a behavioral question and STAR answer:

Question: Tell me about a past work experience that demonstrates how you deal with customer conflict?
Situation or Task: I had a customer who didn't want me to explain the characteristics of some new company merchandise because he had recently had some difficulty when interacting with one of our other company marketers.
Action: I listened to his complaint, affirmed some of his feelings, and explained how I would have dealt with the situation differently. I affirmed his value to the company and shared my excitement about some new product directions the company was taking.
Resolution or Results: He calmed down, thanked me for being a good listener and looking at things his way, and bought the merchandise. He is now one of the company’s best customers.

Some suggestions about preparing for behavioral interview questions:

  • Study the list of behavioral question examples in this guide and make a list of those you feel you should be prepared to answer.
  • Ask friends or colleagues in your field what behavioral questions to expect and add these to your list
  • Be prepared to tell stories! Behavioral Interview answers are simply stories. Think back to memorable experiences from work or school and be prepared to share.
  • Determine what behavioral success stories of yours would be best to use. Think closely about what stories might closely align with this job.
  • Write out your STAR answers.
  • Practice your answers so that you sound natural and convincing.
  • Keep your answers brief (30 seconds to 2 minutes tops).
Behavioral Job Interview Sample Questions

Problem-Solving / Good Thinking / Decision-Making

  1. Tell me about a situation where you failed and how you recovered from it.
  2. Describe an instance when you had to think on your feet to get yourself out of a difficult situation.
  3. Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic to solve a problem.
  4. Tell me about a time when you were forced to make an unpopular decision.
  5. Describe a specific problem you solved for your employer or instructor. How did you approach the problem? What role did others play? What was the outcome?
  6. Recall a time from your work experience when your manager or supervisor was unavailable and a problem arose. What was the nature of the problem? How did you handle that situation?
  7. Tell me about a major problem you recently handled and how you dealt with it. Were you successful in resolving it?
  8. We can sometimes identify a small problem and fix it before it becomes a major problem. Give an example(s) of how you have done this.
  9. Tell me about a situation in which you have had to adjust quickly to changes over which you had no control. What was the impact of the change on you?
  10. Give me an example of a time you had to make an important decision. How did you make the decision? How does it affect you today?

Communication Skills – Listening / Verbal / Written

  1. Describe a time when you had to use your written communication skills to get an important point across.
  2. Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully communicate with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa).
  3. Sometimes it's easy to get in "over your head." Describe a situation where you had to request help or assistance on a project or assignment.
  4. Tell me about a time when your active listening skills really paid off for you - maybe a time when other people missed the key idea being expressed.
  5. Give me an example of a time you had to persuade other people to take action. Were you successful?
  6. Give me a specific example of a time when you sold your supervisor or instructor on an idea or concept. How did you proceed? What was the result?

Goal Setting

  1. Give me an example of an important goal which you set in the past and tell me about your success in reaching it.
  2. Tell me about a time when you worked with a team to set goals and objectives that were specific and measurable. What processes did you use?

Performance Issues

  1. Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
  2. Describe some projects or ideas (not necessarily your own) that were implemented, or carried out successfully primarily because of your efforts.
  3. Tell me about a time when you were assigned a complex project. What steps did you take to prepare for and complete the project? Were you happy with the outcome? What one step would you have done differently if given the chance?
  4. Give me an example of how you applied knowledge from previous coursework to a project in another class.
  5. Tell me about a time when you failed to meet a deadline. What things did you fail to do? What were the repercussions? What did you learn?
  6. Give me an example of a work or school experience that was especially satisfying.
  7. Tell me about a time when a new idea of yours helped an organization or group work better.
  8. Tell me about a time when you came up with an innovative solution to a challenge your company/class/organization was facing. What was the challenge? What role did others play?
  9. Tell me about a time when you helped a co-worker learn a new task or procedure.
  10. Tell me about a time you had to handle multiple responsibilities. How did you organize the work you needed to do?
  11. Describe the system you use for keeping track of multiple projects. How do you prioritize your tasks? How do you track your progress so that you can meet deadlines? How do you stay focused?
  12. Tell me about a time you adapted to a wide variety of people, situations and environments.
  13. For a team to function effectively, every member must be committed to the team and its goals. Tell me how you’ve demonstrated your commitment to the team. What were the results?
  14. As a past manager or supervisor, describe a situation that required all of your management/supervisory abilities.

Conflict / Relationships

  1. Describe a situation where others you were working with on a project disagreed with your ideas. What did you do?
  2. Tell me about a time when you worked with a colleague who was not completing his or her share of the work. Whom, if anyone, did you tell or talk to about it? Did the manager take any steps to correct your colleague? Did you agree or disagree with the manager's actions?
  3. Describe a situation in which you had to arrive at a compromise or guide others to a compromise.
  4. Tell me about the most difficult customer service experience that you have had to handle?
  5. Give me a specific example of a time when a co-worker or classmate criticized your work in front of others. How did you respond? How has that event shaped the way you communicate with others?
  6. Give an example of a time when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with. Why was this person difficult? How did you handle this person?
  7. Describe a situation where you found yourself dealing with someone who didn't like you. How did you handle it?
  8. Describe a time when you got co-workers or classmates who dislike each other to work together. How did you accomplish this? What was the outcome?


  1. Tell me about a difficult situation when it was desirable for you to keep a positive attitude. What did you do?
  2. Give me a specific example of something you did that helped build enthusiasm in others.
  3. Describe a time when you put your needs aside to help a co-worker or classmate understand a task. How did you assist him or her? What was the result?


  1. Describe a situation when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.
  2. Describe a time when you were faced with great stress on the job. How did you handle it?
Interview Questions for YOU to Ask

Most interviewers will allow you the chance to ask them a few questions. This is a sign that the interview is drawing to a close, and that you have one more chance to make an impression. It is important that you prepare such questions for two reasons. First and most important, you need information to help you decide if you would accept the job if offered. Second, asking relevant questions indicates a higher level of interest and that you have done some serious thinking about the job and company. You won’t have a great deal of time to ask questions, so do your research first and don’t waste everyone’s time by asking questions you could have easily answered by going online! Listed below are some sample questions for you. Not all of them are appropriate for every interview situation.

  1. What do you feel are the greatest challenges of this position?
  2. What are some major concerns that need to be addressed in the first few months?
  3. What projects do you anticipate that I would be involved with in the future versus now?
  4. What are some of the longer-term objectives that you would like completed?
  5. What is an example of some best work produces by people in this position?
  6. What would you like done differently by the next person who fills this position?
  7. What has the growth of this company/organization/department been in the past several years?
  8. Has there been any downsizing in the last few years? What does the future look like in this regard?
  9. Who will be my immediate supervisor and how does he or she fit into the organizational structure?
  10. What is the supervisor’s management style?
  11. Why is this position open?
  12. How often has this position been filled in the past five to ten years? (If the number is high, you may want to ask what the reasons are for the turnover).
  13. Why did the last person leave?
  14. With whom would I be interacting most frequently, what are his or her responsibilities, and what would be the nature of our interaction?
  15. Are there opportunities for internal growth and advancement?
  16. What type of training is offered and how is it delivered?
  17. What opportunities does your company offer for further training and education?
  18. What are the travel requirements, if any?
  19. What would my first assignment be?
  20. What is a typical day like?
  21. What is the work environment like?
  22. May I see the work area for this position?
  23. How do you (the supervisor) like to operate in terms of assignments and delegation of responsibility and authority?
  24. How do you measure job performance?
  25. How regularly do performance evaluations occur?
  26. To where have successful people in this position advanced?
  27. What are the skills and attributes most needed to advance in the company?
  28. What are some of the problems you feel a new employee would face in this position and do you have any suggestions for dealing with them?
  29. What significant changes do you foresee in the future for this position and perhaps for the company?
  30. What do you (the people interviewing you) like about working here?
  31. Is there anything else that would be good to know?
  32. Is there anything else you’d like to ask me?
  33. What particular things about my background, experience and style interest you?
  34. Do you have any concerns about me? What can I do to address them?
  35. What else can I do to get a job offer from your company/organization?
  36. What is the time frame for making a decision on this position?
  37. What is the next step in your interview process?
  38. When would it be best for me to contact you about the hiring decision?

Why Say Thank You?
Say It Often!
Say It In a Variety of Ways
Say More
Example Letters

IT CAN GET YOU THE JOB! It’s what you’ve been taught to do since you were a child. It’s polite and people remember you for it. Saying thank you promptly and courteously when you’re job seeking:

  • Can make the difference between getting the job offer or not
  • Can positively influence continued consideration for other current or future positions
  • Is essential for expanding your network and gaining additional leads.

Say Thank You after any time an employer gives you their time, including:

  • Job interview (not only the first, but the second, and, if you have it, even the third)
  • Informational interview
  • Reference use
  • Job offer
  • Rejection call or notification

Always say thank-you in person upon leaving an interview. It’s crucial to say it in writing within 24 (preferably) to 48 hours.

Personalize your comments to each person who participated in the interview. That means you should send a different letter to each interviewer. It might even be wise to send one to the administrative assistant who greeted you, made you feel welcome, got you some water, ushered you into the interviewing area, and introduced you.

Your letter can be written in a variety of formats:

  • Email
  • Handwritten note card
  • Typed letter

The preferred format of hiring managers is an email letter inserted into the text area of an email. From the interviewer’s point of view, email is convenient, easy to forward to interview team members, and more apt to arrive before the hiring decision or second interview decision is made. From the job seeker’s point of view, when time is of the essence, an emailed thank-you arrives immediately. Remember that an email letter should be written using business English standards.

If you use postal mail, you have two choices. A short handwritten note is preferred over a business letter because it’s more personal. Though a note can’t include as much reflection and summary, its personal effect is greater. Use the type of card that is blank on the inside, and make sure your penmanship is very legible. All emails, notes and letters should be absolutely error free.

You may also send a thank you e-mail immediately after the interview and follow up with a thank you card.

A thank-you is your opportunity thank the interviewer for the opportunity to interview and confirm your continued interest in the position or company. It can also be used to:

  • Pass on a compliment about the company or individual.
  • Summarize the interview.
  • Reiterate how you can contribute and reaffirm your value.
  • State how your goals match the company’s or department’s goals.
  • Solve an observed problem.
  • Clear up a misconception.
  • Mention something significant you forgot to say at the interview.

Obviously, your letter is not going to include all of these. Think about the interview, reflect on what you heard and observed and whom you met, and then briefly sell yourself in a professional and confident tone to meet specific needs.