Undergraduate Career Services

Common Interview Questions

Review the following questions. The keys to answering effectively are to be direct, truthful, positive and succinct. Think about these questions, prepare answers beforehand and practice.

General / Get to know you

  • Tell me about yourself?
  • Describe an ideal work environment?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What do you know about the company?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • What are your long term career goals?
  • Please walk me through your resume.
  • What is your greatest strength? Weakness?
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • How would your peers describe you?
  • What accomplishment is your greatest source of pride?
  • Tell me about a time when you worked on a team. What was your role in the group?
  • Describe a time when you managed a project/or team. What were the results?
  • Tell me about a time when you were under a great deal of pressure. What was the source of the pressure and what did you do?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer?
  • Think about a recent project you were assigned. How did you manage your time and organize the project?

Your Education and Background

  • Why did you choose this career?
  • When did you decide on this career?
  • Why did you choose to attend your college?
  • What changes would you make at your college?
  • How has your education prepared you for your career?
  • What were your favorite classes? Why?
  • Who were your favorite professors? Why?
  • Tell me what you learned in ___ class.
  • Do you have any plans for further education?
  • Why is your GPA not higher?

Your Goals and Expectations

  • What are your short and long-range goals and how are do you plan to achieve them?
  • What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
  • Where do you want to be in ten years?
  • What new goals or objectives have you established recently? Why?
  • What goals do you have in your career?
  • What are the most important rewards you expect in your career?
  • Why did you apply for this position?
  • What kind of salary are you looking for?
  • In what kind of work environment are you most comfortable (structured, unstructured, etc.)?
  • How would you describe your ideal job?
  • What do you look for in a job?
  • What is the difference between a good position and an excellent one?
  • What size firm/company would you like to work at? (Also a “What do you know about us” question)
  • What criteria are you using to evaluate the company for which you hope to work?
  • Describe the kind of relationship should exist between a supervisor and subordinates.

Your Skills, Qualifications, Experience and Competence

  • Why should we hire you?
  • What can you do for us that someone else cannot do?
  • What makes you a unique candidate?
  • Do you work well under pressure, deadlines, etc.? Give me an example.
  • How are you best managed?
  • What are your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
  • Based on the job description, what do you think will be the most challenging aspect of the position for you?
  • What qualifications do you have that make you think you will be successful in this business?
  • How would you describe the essence of success?
  • How would you describe yourself (personality, work ethic, etc)?
  • What have you learned from your mistakes?
  • What two or three professional accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction? Why?
  • Describe a situation in which you were successful.
  • Are you a goal-oriented person?
  • Tell me about some of your recent goals and what you did to achieve them.
  • If I were to ask one of your professors to describe you, what would he or she say?
  • Do you prefer working with others or by yourself?

Your Potential Contribution to Them

  • What are your five biggest accomplishments in your present or last job?
  • In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our firm?
  • How long would it take you to make a contribution to our firm?
  • How much training do you think you’ll need to become a productive employee?
  • How long would you stay with us?
  • How do you evaluate success?
  • How successful have you been?
  • Describe a situation in which you were successful.
  • What do you think it takes to be successful in this career?
  • What accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction in your life?
  • Are you a team player?
  • Do you enjoy doing independent research?

Work Ethic, Professionalism and Maturity

  • What qualities have you liked or disliked in your boss?
  • Why have you not obtained a job so far?
  • What features of your previous jobs have you disliked?
  • Do you handle conflict well?
  • Have you ever had a conflict with a boss or professor? How did you resolve it?
  • What major problem have you had to deal with recently?
  • Do you handle pressure well?
  • What qualities do you feel a successful manager should have?
  • What is your philosophy of management?

What You Know About the Company

  • Why do you want to work in the _____ industry?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • Why are you interested in our company?
  • Do you have any location preferences?
  • How familiar are you with the community that we’re located in?

Accounting

  • Do you plan to sit for the CPA exam? If so, are you eligible and when will you sit for the exam?
  • What accounting skills do you have and how can you apply them to this position?
  • Provide me with an example of your problem-solving ability.
  • If you are interested in public accounting, are you more interested in tax or audit?
  • Describe your computer skills, including any accounting software programs. Please rank your ability as Advanced, Intermediate or Basic.
  • Do you consider yourself to be detail-oriented? If so, give me an example of a time when your attention to detail was critical.
  • What characteristics make accounting a good career fit for you?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to work as part of a team.
  • Aside from mathematical efficiency, what do you think is the most important skill set of a successful accountant?
  • What aspect of accounting do you dislike most?
  • What is the link between the Balance Sheet and the Statement of Cash Flows?

Finance

  • How do you calculate Free Cash Flow?
  • In a given situation, what would you use to determine if the company should or should not go forward with a specific project?
  • Why do you want to work in a financial institution?
  • Describe any previous work experiences had any responsibilities working with financial parts of a business, i.e., Accounts Receivables, Account Payable.
  • What are the biggest opportunities and the biggest challenges that financial professionals face in today’s market?
  • What is the link between the Balance Sheet and the Statement of Cash Flows?
  • Where does your passion for the Finance industry come from?
  • Walk me through the discounted cash flow model for valuation. What are the key drivers? How would you test/validate this model?
  • How did you first get interested in the financial services industry?
  • How would you evaluate whether a deal or project is good for our company?

Management Information Systems

  • What are your technical MIS skills?
  • Which Management Information Systems (MIS) software and hardware programs have you used? Which ones do you prefer?
  • A number of users continue to have difficulty in using a new application. The number of help calls is far and above average for all other users. How would you address this problem?

Marketing

  • What qualities and skills do you think a successful marketing professional should have?
  • Tell me about your market research experience.
  • Tell me how you included marketing and promotional elements in a campaign you worked on for school or work.
  • What skills are most important in marketing?
  • Have you ever designed a survey?
  • Tell me about a situation where you had to make a decision without much information.
  • How do you stay on top of what’s going on in the industry?


Illegal Interview Questions

Illegal questions are those that ask for personal information that have nothing to do with the job or your ability to perform that job. These questions are not necessarily intentional. Often times an interviewer may not know any better because s/he is an untrained interviewer or is trying to establish some rapport or calm your nerves in an inappropriate way. If you think a question is irrelevant or illegal, how you answer is up to you.

  • Any questions about your family, origin, nationality, ancestry - Are you married? How long have you been in this country? (They can ask if you are eligible to work in the country.) What is your maiden name? Marino, is that Italian?
  • Questions about children, birth control, pregnancy - Are you pregnant? Do you plan on having children? Do you need childcare?
  • Questions about race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, age - Are you considered to be part of a minority group? Do you observe and religious holidays? Do you have any health conditions? Do you have (name any disability or health condition)? How old are you? (They can ask, “Are you over 18?”, but cannot ask for your specific age.)

Just because an illegal question has been asked, does not mean there is a crime. A court would have to determine the intent and whether the
information was used in a discriminatory way. At that point, a person could be found to have civil liability or no liability.

Responses

(1) Answer, “Whether or not I … it will not affect my ability to do this job. I am confident that I will be
successful in this position.”
(2) Do not answer the question, but ask it back to them. (If s/he asks if you are married, simply ask, “Are you
married?”)
(3) Ask the interviewer, “I’m sorry, how is this relevant to this position?”
(4) Answer the question briefly. Then make a “selling” point about yourself to bring the topic back to the
interview.


Questions To Ask The Interviewer

Before the interview concludes, the interviewer will almost always ask if you have any questions. ALWAYS come to an interview with a 5-7 questions to ask. Some questions you may want to ask are listed below. When they ask if you have any questions, you can also use this time to mention a key selling point that maybe you didn’t get an opportunity to make during the interview. You might say something like, “I do have a few questions. I
also wanted to tell you about/make you aware of/ point out _____.” Then explain why this is important (how it would benefit the company, how it will help with this position, etc.).

Questions About the Company and Why You Should Choose Them

  • Questions about the company and its direction.
  • Where do you see your company going in the next several years?
  • In the recent history of the company, what has been the biggest advance? The biggest setback?
  • Why would a well-qualified person choose this position over similar ones in other corporations? What is unique and different about this position?
  • When there are openings in supervisory or management positions, are the more likely to be filled with promotions internally or with external candidates?
  • If I were to ask your top person what he/she likes most/least about the company, what might they say?
  • How would you describe your company culture?
  • Why did you decide to join this company?
  • What do you consider your company’s strengths and weaknesses?

Questions About the Candidate They Are Seeking

  • Can you tell me more about the position and the type of person you are seeking?
  • What are the most important skills and attributes you are looking for in filling this position?
  • What type of person is successful in this position/company and why?
  • What are the characteristics of your top people?
  • What are some of the most common characteristics of employees that excel in this environment?
  • How do I compare with other qualified applicants?
  • How do you see me fitting in with your company?

Questions About the Position

  • What exactly will I be doing? Would you break the position into specific functions? Would you indicate the relative importance of each function by priority?
  • What needs to be done in the first 6 months? The first year?
  • What is your highest priority in the next six months, and how could someone like me help?
  • Tell me about a typical day.

Questions About the Manager/Supervisor
* Who does the position report to?
* Would you please comment on your style of management and reporting structure?
* Why is this position available? (If as a result of a termination, ask why a person was terminated.)
* Tell me about your training program.

Before You Leave

  • I am very interested in this position. What is the next step in the interview process?
  • When may I return and meet some of the people with whom I would be working?
  • Do you have any hesitations about me being successful with your company?
  • After discussing the company, position and my suitability for it, I am very interested in taking it to the next step. What is your assessment of my status for the position? When could we meet again?
  • I feel my background and experience are a good fit for this position and I am very interested. I am ready to consider your best offer!

Peer Interview

  • What were your initial expectations? Were they met?
  • How have your expectations changed over time?
  • What can you tell me about working for your manager?
  • Do you consider your company to be the ideal employer? Why?/Why not?
  • Tell me about a typical working day for you.
  • Is the employer committed to diversity?
  • Can you give me any specific examples?
  • How much time has been spent on training you in the past year?
  • What do you know now that you wish you knew before you started in your position?

Hiring Manager Interview

  • What would be a typical working day for this position?
  • What is the organization structure of your department?
  • What is your vision for your department over the next two to three years?
  • What major challenges are you currently facing as a manager?
  • What makes your company better than your competitors?
  • What would you consider to be exceptional performance from someone in this position in the first 90 days?
  • What will be the measurements of my success in this position?
  • What is your management style?
  • How long have you been with the organization?
  • What has been your career path within the organization?
  • What are the opportunities for growth and advancement for this position?

Questions to Ask at a Second Interview

  • How will you measure my performance? How often?
  • Will my remuneration be tied to my performance?
  • Can you tell me more about the other people in the organization I would be working with? Can I meet with any of them before accepting an offer of employment?

Questions Not to Ask

  • Tell me about the history/growth of the company. (If the company has a website, check there for history of the company. You don’t want to ask a question that you would have found the answer with some research.)
  • Who are your major competitors, and how do they stack up against you in terms of product, market share, methods of marketing, and strengths and weaknesses?
  • Any questions about salary and benefits. Does the company offer tuition benefits for advanced education or professional development like seminars and training sessions? (These are good questions, but save them until you have the offer.)