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State Universities Civil Service System

Test Preparation
Sample Interview Questions

Career Initiative Questions

  • How would this job help you progress in your career?
  • How have you had to re-invent your job over time in light of your employer's changing needs?

Technical Skill Questions

  • On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being a perfect match for the job), how would you rate yourself from a technical standpoint?  What would make you a 10?
  • Where would you need the most support, structure or direction in your first 90 to 180 days?
  • Are you more quality-driven or quantity-driven?  Where do you fall in that spectrum?

Personality Match Questions

  • How do you prefer to accept constructive criticism?
  • Do you prefer more structure, direction and feedback on a day-to-day basis, or do you prefer more autonomy?
  • What work pace do you typically prefer:
    1. moderate, controllable, predictable;
    2. fast-paced with deadline pressure;
    3. hectic with constant deadlines?
  • What would your references say about your:
    1. listening skills,
    2. follow-up abilities,
    3. inclination to confront problematic situations head-on?
  • What was your favorite position and what role did your boss play in your career?
  • What was your least favorite position and what role did your boss play in your career?
  • Which three adjectives would describe you best?

Achievement Questions

  • What makes you stand out among your peers?
  • What have you done in your present/last position to increase your organization's top-line revenues, reduce expenses, or save time?
  • How have you made your current organization a better place?
  • Tell me about your reputation at work: what are you known for?
  • Tell me about the most-significant achievement you have ever had in your career.

Pressure Cooker Questions

  • Tell me about your last performance appraisal: in which area were you most disappointed?
  • Tell me about me: What about my management style can you glean from this interview?
  • From an interpersonal standpoint, where do you often disagree with your supervisor? What kind of constructive feedback would you give your supervisor if they were here right now?
  • What do you know about our organization?

Questions To Reveal Integrity/Honesty/Trustworthiness

  • Discuss a time when your integrity was challenged. How did you handle it?
  • What would you do if someone asked you to do something unethical?
  • Have you ever been at a loss to do what is right?
  • Have you ever asked for forgiveness for doing something wrong?
  • Are there any business situations where you feel complete honesty would be inappropriate?
  • What would you do if you saw a co-worker doing something dishonest?

Questions To Reveal Personality/Temperament/Ability To Work With Others

  • If you took out a full-page ad in a newspaper and had to describe yourself in only three words, what would those words be?
  • How would you describe your personality?
  • What motivates you the most in your work life?
  • If I call your references, what do you think they will say about you?
  • Do you consider yourself a risk taker? Describe a job situation where you had to take a risk.
  • What kinds of responsibilities would you like to avoid in your next job?
  • What are two or three examples of work tasks that you do not particularly enjoy doing? Indicate how you remain motivated to complete those tasks.
  • What kinds of people annoy you?
  • Tell me about a work situation that irritated you.
  • Have you ever had to resolve a conflict with a co-worker or client? How did you resolve it?
  • Describe the appropriate relationship between a supervisor and subordinates.
  • What sort of relationships do you have with your associates at all levels?
  • How have you worked as a member of teams in the past?
  • Tell me about some of the groups you have had to get cooperation from. What did you do?
  • What is your management style? How do you think your subordinates perceive you?
  • As a manager, have you ever had to fire anyone? If so, what were the circumstances, and how did you handle it?
  • Have you ever been in a situation where a project was returned because of errors? What effect did this have on you?
  • Which of your previous jobs was the most satisfying and why?
  • Which of your previous jobs was the most frustrating and why?
  • Tell me about the best boss you have ever had.
  • Now tell me about the worst boss. What made it tough to work for them?
  • What do you think you owe to your employer?
  • What do you think your employer owes you?

Questions To Reveal Past Mistakes

  • Tell me about an objective in your last job that you failed to meet and why.
  • When was the last time you were criticized on the job? How did you deal with it?
  • What have you learned from your mistakes?
  • Tell me about a situation where you "blew it". How did you resolve or correct it?
  • Tell me about a situation where you had to abruptly change what you were doing.
  • If you could change one (managerial) decision you made during the past two years, what would that be?
  • Tell me of a time when you had to work on a project that did not work out the way it should have. What did you do?
  • If you had the opportunity to change anything in your career, what would you have done differently?

Questions To Reveal Creativity/Creative Thinking/Problem Solving

  • When was the last time you "thought outside the box" and how did you do it?
  • What have you done that was innovative?
  • What was the most unconventional idea you had in the past year? What did you do with it?
  • Give me an example of when someone suggested a new idea to you, particularly one that was odd or unusual. What did you do?
  • If you could do anything in the world, what would you do?
  • Describe a situation in which you had a difficult (management) problem. How did you solve it?
  • What is the most difficult decision you have had to make? How did you arrive at your decision?
  • Describe some situations in which you worked under pressure or met deadlines.
  • Were you ever in a situation where you had to meet two different deadlines given to you by two different people and could not meet both? What did you do?
  • What approach to solving work problems seems to work best for you? Give me an example of when you solved a tough problem.
  • When taking on a new task, do you like to have a great deal of feedback and responsibility at the outset, or do you like to try your own approach?
  • You are on the phone with another department resolving a problem. The intercom pages you that a customer is on hold. Your manager returns your monthly report with red pen markings and demands corrections within the hour. What would you do in this situation?
  • Describe a sales presentation for which you had the right product/service and the customer wanted it but would not buy it. What did you do next?

Miscellaneous Good Questions

  • How do you measure your success?
  • What is the most interesting thing you have done in the past three years?
  • What are your short-term or long-term career goals?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What responsibilities do you want, and what results do you expect to achieve in your next job?
  • What do you think it takes to be successful in a company like ours?
  • How did the best manager you ever had motivate you to perform well? Why did that method work?
  • What is the best thing a previous employer did that you wish everyone did?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What is important to you in a job?
  • What do you expect to find in our company that you don't have at your present job?
  • Is there anything you want me to know about you that we have not discussed?
  • Do you have any questions for me?