Preparing for Interviews

General considerations for interviewing:

An interviewer learns more from listening than talking

  • Determine information you wish to obtain from the interview
  • Determine appropriate place for interview - comfortable, neutral environment where you will be free from interruptions
  • Determine who and how you will do the interviewing. You may wish to schedule multiple interviews, have a committee screen and interview, schedule interviews with various departments or with multi-level interviewers, etc.
  • Develop questions. For fairness, all candidates should be asked the same or similar questions.
  • Allow sufficient time for each interview
  • Review information immediately following each interview and make appropriate notes. Weigh hiring decisions
  • Ask general, open-ended questions that do not suggest a particular answer
  • Use short questions
  • Listen carefully to each response; then decide on your next question
  • Probe the candidate's range of expertise
  • Stimulate value judgment
  • Be on time
  • Avoid interruptions during the interview
  • Treat all applicants the same
  • Establish rapport
  • Be sincere
  • Show respect for the individual
  • Provide information
  • Explain the placement process

Sample Questions

  • Would you tell me about your present (last) position?
  • How would you describe a typical work day?
  • What activities did you enjoy most at your last job?
  • What do you consider the most critical elements in the successful performance of your present (last) position?
  • What do you feel you do the best? Why?
  • What job functions are the most difficult for you? Why?
  • What problems do you encounter on the job? Which frustrate you the most? Why? How do you deal with them?
  • What was your greatest contribution in your present (past) position?
  • How have you improved your position from the one that you originally accepted?
  • How have your previous jobs prepared you for more responsibility?
  • What are the reasons you left your last job?
  • To what extent do you feel your job progress in the past has been in keeping with your ability?
  • Under what conditions do you do your best work?
  • What can your boss do to help you deliver your best work?
  • What's the one thing your current job doesn't have that you wish it did?
  • What's the best work-related compliment you ever received?
  • What's a work environment that you would be really uncomfortable in? (Seek both physical and cultural answers.)
  • What was the "best mistake" you ever made on the job?
  • Every person has a full range of emotions. What's something that really "pushes your buttons," that makes you so angry in an instant that you're ready to blow?
  • How would you describe your supervisor?
  • What do you feel are your supervisor's greatest strengths? Why? Weaknesses? Why?
  • In what ways has your supervisor supported your performance?
  • For what kinds of things have you been praised? Criticized?
  • How would you characterize your coworkers?
  • What disagreements have you had with coworkers?
  • How would you describe your relationships with people in other departments?
  • What kind of people do you enjoy working with? What kind do you find difficult?
  • What do you consider essential in the management of people?
  • What type of committees have you worked on? What did you contribute?
  • Did you receive adequate credit for your efforts?
  • What is important to you in a job?
  • What would you like to avoid?
  • What do you want from this job that is lacking in your present (past) one?
  • What position do you expect to hold five years from now?
  • What are you doing to achieve your career goals?
  • What are your salary expectations? On what do you base them?
  • As an employee, what do you consider your greatest strength?
  • In what areas would you most like to improve? Why?
  • What motivates you?
  • Why did you select this particular field of work?
  • What attracts you to the job for which you are applying?
  • What do you believe qualifies you for this position?
  • What elements of this job would be new to you?
  • What additional training do you feel is required to achieve full proficiency?
  • When was a time when you....?
  • Can you give me an example of when you....?
  • Could you tell me about a time when you...?
  • Tell me more about when you....?
  • Have you ever had to...? What was the situation, and what did you do?
  • Describe a situation where you....?
  • Let's go back to that situation you just mentioned. Can you elaborate a little more about how you....?
  • When (this) happens, what do you do? Can you explain in detail a specific instance of that?
  • Your resume/application indicates that you....How exactly did you do that?
  • I hear what you're saying, but I need a few more details to really understand what happened. Can you take me back to the point when you...?
  • You said you always/never... But what about a time when you...?
  • Have you ever had the experience of..(or occasion do...)? Can you tell me about that?
  • This is a most impressive accomplishment. To help me understand it better, could you walk me through the process starting with...
  • Interesting. Fascinating. Hmmm. No kidding? Wow. Tell me more.
  • Cutting expenses 94 percent while increasing revenues 212 percent is most impressive. How did you do that?
  • I see. (Silence) Go on.
  • I'm a little confused about what exactly you did in that situation. Can you help me to understand by describing it the way you would describe a scene in a movie, so that I can see the action taking place?
  • What were you doing while all this was happening?
  • What was your role in that?
  • Walk me through, in such fine detail that you think it might annoy me, a typical operation/job/phone call/meeting...
  • Recall a time when you grasped the concept and didn't need any more examples.
  • What would you do in...(specific situation)?

The most powerful interview questions is: Why? This goes beyond the superficial and reveals the candidate's judgment, understanding, decision-making process, values, biases, etc.

Key points to remember when using questions

Questions should be directed to determine work-related skills. Questions that could be construed to be discriminatory such as questions on race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age or handicap should be avoided.

Consistent with its mission to value diversity and to treat all individuals with dignity and respect, Central Wyoming College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, religion, or disability in admission or access to, or treatment or employment in its educational program services or activities. The college makes reasonable accommodations to serve students with special needs and offers services to students who have the ability to benefit.
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