50 Sample Interviewing Questions for Employers

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50 Sample Interview Questions for Employers examples of behavioral interview questions interviewing questions for employers

When conducting interviews, it's helpful to not only develop standard interview questions unique and specific to each position's requirements, but also to compile a bank of questions for critical competencies common to many jobs that you can choose from for your interviews.

Such competencies include a number of soft and analytical skills including critical thinking, judgment, decision-making, initiative, risk taking, creativity, diligence, resilience, communication, conflict management, time management, supervision, among others. Many of these are relevant to a number of jobs.

We've compiled a list of 50 common interview questions, mostly behavioral in nature, which you can use to interview your job candidates.

  1. Tell me about a time when you were creative in solving a problem.
  2. Give me an example of a time when you found an innovative or a new and better way of doing something on the job.
  3. Describe an idea that came to fruition because of your efforts. What was your role? What was the outcome?
  4. What is the biggest risk you've ever taken at work? What happened?
  5. Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
  6. Give me an example of a time when you used good judgment when solving a problem.
  7. Give me an example of a difficult decision you had to make at work in the last year.
  8. Give an example of a time when you had to make a decision or come to consensus in collaboration with others.
  9. Tell me about a time when you had to make an unpopular decision. What was the outcome?
  10. Describe a problem at work that you were unable to solve. Why couldn’t you solve it?
  11. Explain a situation in which you needed to successfully convince or influence someone to accept your viewpoint.
  12. Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a coworker.
  13. Discuss a situation in which you had to work with a frustrating coworker and how you worked with them.
  14. Tell me about a time when you dealt with a difficult team member on a project or task.
  15. Describe a negotiation you were involved with. What did you do and what were the results for you and the other party?
  16. Explain a time when you had to motivate others to achieve certain results. What did you do?
  17. Give me an example of a time when you had to change your behavior or work style to effectively work with others.
  18. Describe a situation when you had to change your style or actions to respond to someone else's needs.
  19. Tell me about a crisis that you had to handle at work. How did you respond to the crisis?
  20. Describe a time when you had to communicate sensitive information to others. How did you communicate this information?
  21. Explain a time when you had to adjust to a change over which you did not have control.
  22. Discuss a time when you encountered a difficult obstacle that you had to overcome on the job. What steps did you take? What was the result?
  23. Tell me about a project that did not go as planned.
  24. Tell me about a work-related decision you made or a situation you handled where, if you could do it again, would do something different.
  25. Tell me about a time when you felt like giving up on a certain job or task.
  26. Describe a time when you encountered a stressful situation at work.
  27. Give me an example of when you made an unusually positive impression on a customer.
  28. Describe a time when you had to deal with an upset customer.
  29. Tell me about a specific project or task that you were involved with that resulted in improving something in your department and/or organization.
  30. Tell me about a time when you had to analyze information, identify issues, and develop a plan to solve a business problem.
  31. Describe a time when you had to present a plan or proposal to an authority figure and did it successfully.
  32. Tell me about a time when you compiled and/or wrote a report that was well-received. What attributes of the report led to the positive outcome?
  33. Give an example of a time when you had to analyze information and make a recommendation. How did you go about this? What were the results?
  34. Explain a time when you needed to step into a situation, create support, and achieve results.
  35. Tell me about task you did at work in which you had no experience. How did you address your inexperience?
  36. Describe a situation where you had to learn something new. What steps did you take?
  37. Describe how you have developed others in the past.
  38. Explain a time when you had to instruct or train someone on how to do a task. How did you go about this?
  39. Explain a situation when someone asked you for help outside of your job.
  40. Describe a situation when you had to coordinate or manage a project. What steps did you take to ensure that the project met its goals?
  41. Describe a task that you had to accomplish without any direction.
  42. Tell me about a time when you delegated a project or task effectively.
  43. Give me an example of a goal you set that you reached successfully.
  44. Tell me about a time when you exceeded your manager’s expectations.
  45. Give me an example of a time when you had to go above and beyond your usual duties to accomplish a task.
  46. Describe a time when you had to balance multiple conflicting priorities and did so effectively.
  47. Provide an example of a situation when you prioritized elements of a large project or initiative.
  48. Tell me about a time when you faced an unreasonable deadline and how you handled it.
  49. What work accomplishment are you most proud of?
  50. If I was to contact your previous manager, what would they say about you?

These sample interview questions can help you identify how a candidate would act in real life work situations based on how they have acted in the past on many general competencies. But be sure to supplement these with questions that evaluate specific competencies you are looking for and the essential skills you would like your ideal candidate to have. 

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The 20 Craziest Interview Questions We've Heard

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Some employers are taking interviewing to an entirely different level by asking job candidates creative, outside of the box, seemingly absurd, but effective and unique interview questions during the hiring process. The following are 20 of the craziest questions we’ve heard of that are asked in interviews at companies like Google, Marriott, Bain & Co., and Mastercard.

  1. If you were to get rid of one state in the U.S., which would it be and why? (Forrester Research)
  2. How many golf balls can fit in a school bus? (Google)
  3. Why are manhole covers round? (Google)
  4. How many quarters would you need to reach the height of the Empire State building? (JetBlue)
  5. What do you think about when you are alone in your car? (Gallup)
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3 Approaches to Pre-Screening Job Candidates

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With cost-per-hire averaging just over $4,500 and the average time to fill ranging anywhere from 25 days (production positions) up to 88 days (executive positions) effective pre-screening job candidates can be one option to help streamline the recruitment and hiring process, ultimately reduce costs and help find the best talent for the organization.

Phone interviews

According to the 2013 ERC Hiring Trends & Practices Survey the majority of organizations use pre-screening phone interviews as part of their process. Specifically, 74% of employers report using pre-screening phone interviews when attempting to fill their exempt positions and 55% report using them for non-exempt positions. In addition, pre-screening phone interviews tend to be used most often by larger, for-profit, non-manufacturing organizations.
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Hiring Felons: 6 Rules Employers Need to Know

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Hiring Felons: 6 Rules Employers Need to Know

Does your organization have a policy against not hiring felons or people convicted of a crime? Do you automatically exclude applicants on the basis of having a criminal record? Lawsuits are on the rise when it comes to not hiring applicants with criminal records, and yet it’s a fairly common practice among employers. Here's what you need to know to stay compliant.

Hiring Felons: Two Areas of Risk for Employers

On one hand, when hiring employees with criminal records, employers are at risk of negligent hiring if they fail to do their due diligence in investigating the employee’s background insofar as it relates to the job for which they are applying.
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Hiring Practices: Checking Up on Job Candidates

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With an average “cost-per-hire” of just over $4,500 reported by Northeast Ohio organizations in 2013, making sure you are making the right hire on the first try is key. Admittedly, the selection process at each organization can incorporate any number and combinations of methods and should in fact be designed to reflect your organizational culture. Having a complete understanding of each potential new hire is a bit unrealistic, but by implementing a few basic practices during the hiring process, organizations can avoid awkward or potentially even legally complicated situations after-the-fact that could have been mitigated better up-front. We highlight a few of the more traditional methods reported in the recently published 2013 ERC Hiring Trends & Practices Survey below.

Background checks

2013 ERC Hiring Trends & Practices Survey found a strong majority very much in line with the 2011 results at well over 80%. As might be expected, background checks/screenings were conducted slightly less commonly among both non-profit organizations as well as smaller sized organizations with 1-50 employees.
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The Beauty Bias: Can You Hire Based on Looks?

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The

Can employers hire based on looks and image? Does beauty affect hiring and even promotions? Should it?

There's quite a bit of controversy about what has been termed the "beauty bias" in 2013, especially in light of a legally-questionable job website which allows employers to recruit "beautiful people" to hire. As this issue gets more traction, here's what the law says, what existing research says, and our conclusions about whether beauty and image should factor into your employment decisions.
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11 Easy Ways to Create a Memorable First Day for New-Hires

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Organizations only have one chance to make a great first impression with their new-hires - on their first day. A new employee's first day is the most critical day of on-boarding. It leaves a lasting impression that should be both positive and memorable.

Creating a memorable first day for your new-hires doesn’t require an overly elaborate on-boarding program, but it should avoid the common mistakes and issues that plague many on-boarding experiences and lead to poor first impressions including lack of preparation and support, poor training, information/training overload, and failing to provide a warm welcome.

Here are 11 easy ways to create a positive and memorable experience for your new-hires on their first day.
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Even More Reasons to Hire Interns & Recent Grads

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According to the 2013 ERC/NOCHE Intern & Recent Graduate Pay Rates & Practices Survey 85% of employers with internship programs in place indicated that they will be either maintaining or expanding their programs in 2013. Organizations also report that 48% of their entry-level positions are filled using new college graduates. These numbers clearly demonstrate an ongoing commitment by Northeast Ohio organizations to building strong internship programs and bringing young graduates into their workforces. However, this year’s survey also reveals some unexpected opportunities and perks that further bolster the importance of hiring interns and recent grads from more of an organizational development perspective.

Building Networks

Employers looking to hire interns or recent graduates continue to collaborate closely with colleges and universities in the area, most often using the job boards at colleges and universities themselves. This strong connection between the area’s higher education institutions and local employers is also thriving on a more personal level with 61% of respondents taking time to build relationships with professors in order to find interns and 40% drawing upon their alumni contacts when seeking new college graduates to fill positions at their organization. Despite a strong focus on online recruiting overall, employers still find value in the face-to-face networking opportunities that their connections to colleges and universities provide.
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Social Recruiting: What's Trending Now

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Why is social recruiting such an important topic, and what's the value to your company? Mike Donoghue, the Senior Director of Mobile, Video & Vertical Strategy at Advance Digital (parent company of Cleveland.com), has teamed up with ERC to answer some of our most pressing social recruiting questions.

Trends & Growth

Over the last few years, Mike and his team have seen rapid growth happening on LinkedIn. As the 'brand-safe outlet', as Mike calls it, LinkedIn provides a platform for talent acquisition that does not require a deeper, personal relationship between company and candidate. Although, he also comments that as professionals become more weary of whom they add to their LinkedIn networks, there will be some decline in usage. Platforms like Google+, Twitter, and Facebook will gain popularity as organizations and individuals become more comfortable interacting and begin developing richer profiles.
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9 Things Job Applicants Want from an Employer

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9 Things Job Applicants Want from an Employer

Hiring great people increasingly demands that your organization creates an attractive, easy, engaging, personal, and memorable experience in the hiring process.

Hiring practices either repel or attract the talent you are trying to recruit. From the moment you "touch" job candidates, they take in information about your organization, form opinions of your workplace, and make decisions about whether or not to pursue employment with you. A 2013 study by CareerBuilder shows that candidate experience is linked to whether applicants seek employment at your company again, recommend employment, and even purchase products or services from your organization.
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