Compilation of Job Interview Questions

A couple of years ago, I compiled a list of job interview questions and loosely categorized this list by personal attributes, career performance, communication skills, team skills, managerial skills, and leadership skills.

I have since shared this list with recruiting managers (interviewers) and job candidates (interviewees) who I have coached. I suggest that recruiting managers choose eight questions on varied topics for a thirty-minute interview. Job candidates can select twenty-five questions and practice answering these questions by recording and reviewing their answers.

Job Interview Questions on Personal Attributes

  • Why do you think you are successful at what you do?
  • What you consider your biggest fault at work? Why do you think you have it and what are you doing about it?
  • What defines a challenge to you?
  • Describe the situation when your expectations were not met.
  • What is a misconception people have about you when they first meet you?
  • How do you maintain your passion in a place that lacks accountability?
  • Tell me about a time when you felt culturally ill-at-ease and how do you cope with it?
  • What is the single best quality that you have seen in people—a quality that you do not possess?
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What was a constructive criticism you received and how did you respond to it?
  • Tell me about a failure. How would you know you failed in something?
  • Tell me about a time when your belief was challenged.
  • Give me an instance when your ethics have been challenged.
  • Give me an example when you were criticised for your personality.
  • If you had a month without any commitments, what would you do?
  • What are people most surprised to learn about you?
  • What do you consider to be your key values? Name a time when these values were challenged.
  • What is something from your past that you wish you would have done differently and why?
  • List three things that motivate you at work.
  • What is your one personal trait you most admire and why?
  • What motivates you to succeed?
  • How do you measure success?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • Which business leader do you admire? Why?
  • Describe a typical day at work.
  • Tell me about the current (non-professional) book you are reading? What did you learn from it?
  • Who is a prominent figure that you admire? Why?
  • What is your biggest regret and thus far?
  • What do you enjoy most about your job?
  • What is the one impression you want me to leave this interview with?
  • What do you look for in a job?
  • What were the high and low points in your life over the past few years?
  • What was the toughest integrity violation you have ever encountered, and how did you handle it?
  • Have you ever had to define yourself in the midst of criticism, and did you succeed?
  • When have you been blindsided in life, and why did it happen?

Job Interview Questions on Career Performance

  • What class did you like the most while you were at school? Why? How have you pursued that topic since you graduated?
  • When was the last time you were forced to step out of your comfort zone? What is the situation and how did you deal with it?
  • Suppose you discover that you missed a significant detail six hours before a project deadline. What would you do?
  • What you think about your current or former boss?
  • Was there a time where you had to choose between good opportunities? Which one did you choose?
  • Career-wise, was there anything in the last five years that you would have done differently?
  • How does your current or last job relate to the overall goals of your department or organisation?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • Tell me about a time when you personally failed. How did you handle it?
  • How do you feel about your career progress to date?
  • What would your peers at this organisation say on your second year anniversary?
  • When did you realise you needed a change in your career path?
  • What was your best mistake?
  • What about our position do you find most attractive? Least attractive?
  • Tell me about time when you overcame a problem and took initiative.
  • What was your most challenging work situation?
  • What has been your most creative solution to a problem?
  • What has been the highlight of your career?
  • What is the best idea you have ever had and why?
  • What is the one thing you would change about how you performed in your job in the last few years?
  • How have you changed the nature of your job?
  • Tell me about a time at work when things did not go well.
  • Describe the key characteristics of the business you are in.
  • Describe your organisation.
  • Describe your job. Being effective in this job means?
  • What are the key things that have happened since you took this job? What did you do? Why? What effect did you have? What problems developed? How did you handle these problems?
  • How effective do you think you have been in this job? Specifically, why do you say this? What are the performance measures? What is it about you, the job, or its context that has contributed to this level of effectiveness? What could you have done better?
  • What are you trying to achieve in your career? In your life?

Job Interview Questions on Communication, Conflicts

  • Tell me about a time when you worked with someone and had a difficult interaction or disagreement. How did you resolve it?
  • Describe a time when you had a conflict with a co-worker. How did you resolve it?
  • Tell me about a time when your powers of persuasion failed.
  • Give me an example of a time when you made a mistake because you did not listen well to what someone had to say.
  • Describe the most challenging negotiation in which you were involved. What did you do? What were the results for you? What were the results for the other party?
  • When a number of different people come to you with ideas about solving a problem, how do you go about using their information? Please give an example.
  • Tell me about a time when you have had to stand or defend a position that was not popular or easily accepted?
  • What was the hardest thing you had to say no to in the last two years?
  • Have you ever disagreed with your manager?
  • How do you approach resolving a conflict within a group?

Job Interview Questions on Team Skills

  • How would you pick a team?
  • What is your role on a team?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deliver bad news to your team.
  • Tell me about a time when you let your team down.
  • How do you create accountability and create a strong team?
  • Describe a time when you were working in a team and you failed. How did you resolve the situation?
  • What characteristics do you look for in your team members?
  • Describe a situation when your team fell apart.
  • How would you describe your best friend?
  • What weaknesses do you have or experience when you are working in a team environment?
  • In the teams that you work with, how do you deal with disagreements between the team members?
  • Who was the toughest person you have worked with?
  • Discuss your worst team work experience.
  • Describe five qualities that you would want your team members to have for you to work effectively with them.
  • Tell me about a time when you lead a team and failed.

Job Interview Questions on Managerial Skills

  • What was the biggest mistake you have had when delegating work?
  • What is your biggest weakness as a manager?
  • How do you know when the project is working well? If it is not, how do you address the problem?
  • Describe a time when you had to be assertive in giving directions to others.
  • Tell me how you go about delegating work? How did you keep track of delegated assignments?
  • Describe characteristics of a bad team member or supervisor you have worked with.
  • What would you do if your boss in the job came to you requesting you to do something that you know is definitely dead wrong?
  • What is your management style?
  • Tell me about a time when your relationship with a colleague broke down. What did you learn from that?
  • Tell me about a time when you helped someone else succeed without doing the job for them.
  • Describe the situation when you had to micromanage. How did you go about it? What were the results?
  • What is the most difficult aspect of being a manager?
  • Tell me about an instance when you had to work with a difficult person? What did you learn?
  • Give me an instance where you handled a difficult subordinate at work.
  • Consider me to be your employee. I am not performing well. How would you fire me? Please play it out.
  • Describe an experience where you motivated your followers. Why you think you were able to do it?
  • Tell me about when you had to work with someone you did not get along with, or someone whose personality was different from yours.
  • What would your subordinates say about you and your leadership style?
  • How do you deal with difficult personalities?
  • If you were the CEO of a company and had to do downsizing, what people would you layoff, and, how would you implement this?
  • How do you handle working with people who are not good at their jobs?
  • How do you evaluate the productivity / effectiveness of your subordinates? How do you get data for performance reviews?
  • How would you describe your managerial style? How has changed over the past five or ten years?
  • Give me examples of your hiring successes and disasters? Explain what you got right—and what you missed.
  • Can you point to any of your people who grew up with your guidance and have gone on to succeed in your own company or beyond?

Job Interview Questions on Leadership Skills

  • Describe the qualities of a good manager or a leader you have worked with. Why are these important?
  • How has your leadership style evolved from ten years ago?
  • Define leadership. How does a good manager differ from a good leader?
  • Tell me about a time when you challenged somebody else’s idea and generated a new business initiative or project.
  • What kinds of decisions are most difficult for you? Describe an example.
  • Tell me about a time when you influenced others who were not your subordinates.
  • Tell me about a time when you saw poor leadership at work.
  • When you start your own company, what qualities will you look for in people you choose to partner with?
  • What is the most competitive situation you have experienced? How did you handle it? What was the result?
  • Tell me about a time when you developed a new business opportunity. What was the impact?
  • Describe a failure at work, how did you deal with it, and what did you learn from it?
  • What will be happening in our industry five years from now?
  • Have you ever been caught unaware by a problem or obstacle that you had not foreseen? What happened?
  • Tell me about a time when you overcame a problem or took initiative to solve something.
  • Describe a project where you preferred a common sense approach to an analytical approach to solve a problem.
  • What is your leadership style? How do you build consensus without using authority?
  • Some people consider themselves to be ‘big picture people’ and others are ‘detail oriented.’ Which are you? Give an example of a time when you displayed this.
  • What do you think is the most important thing a business needs to develop?
  • What is the riskiest decision you have made? What was the situation? What happened?
  • What you think are the three qualities of a leader? Give me an example of a situation in which you exhibited each of these.
  • If you had to assemble a team to work on a project, which three celebrities would you choose and why?
  • Describe a situation when something went totally awry.
  • In your present position, what problems did you identify that had previously been overlooked?
  • How do you get new ideas?
  • Tell me about a time when you saw a solution before everybody else.
  • Tell me about the most impactful failure in your life? What did you learn from it?
  • Tell me a situation where you took risks.
  • What innovative procedures have you developed? How did you develop them? Who was involved? Where did the ideas come from?
  • What is the role of management in today’s global economy?
  • What are the toughest decisions you have had to make in the last few years?
  • What was your biggest management challenge, and how did you handle it?
  • In your career, what is the best example of you anticipating market changes that your competitors did not?
  • When did your curiosity lead you to probe deeply and uncover a competitive trend or marketplace dynamic that others did not see, or, did not want to see?
  • People frequently borrow ideas they have seen elsewhere and then apply them in a new setting. How have you done this?

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