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.
- Tell me about a time when you were creative in solving a problem.
- Give me an example of a time when you found an innovative or a new and better way of doing something on the job.
- Describe an idea that came to fruition because of your efforts. What was your role? What was the outcome?
- What is the biggest risk you've ever taken at work? What happened?
- Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
- Give me an example of a time when you used good judgment when solving a problem.
- Give me an example of a difficult decision you had to make at work in the last year.
- Give an example of a time when you had to make a decision or come to consensus in collaboration with others.
- Tell me about a time when you had to make an unpopular decision. What was the outcome?
- Describe a problem at work that you were unable to solve. Why couldn’t you solve it?
- Explain a situation in which you needed to successfully convince or influence someone to accept your viewpoint.
- Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a coworker.
- Discuss a situation in which you had to work with a frustrating coworker and how you worked with them.
- Tell me about a time when you dealt with a difficult team member on a project or task.
- Describe a negotiation you were involved with. What did you do and what were the results for you and the other party?
- Explain a time when you had to motivate others to achieve certain results. What did you do?
- Give me an example of a time when you had to change your behavior or work style to effectively work with others.
- Describe a situation when you had to change your style or actions to respond to someone else's needs.
- Tell me about a crisis that you had to handle at work. How did you respond to the crisis?
- Describe a time when you had to communicate sensitive information to others. How did you communicate this information?
- Explain a time when you had to adjust to a change over which you did not have control.
- 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?
- Tell me about a project that did not go as planned.
- 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.
- Tell me about a time when you felt like giving up on a certain job or task.
- Describe a time when you encountered a stressful situation at work.
- Give me an example of when you made an unusually positive impression on a customer.
- Describe a time when you had to deal with an upset customer.
- Tell me about a specific project or task that you were involved with that resulted in improving something in your department and/or organization.
- Tell me about a time when you had to analyze information, identify issues, and develop a plan to solve a business problem.
- Describe a time when you had to present a plan or proposal to an authority figure and did it successfully.
- 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?
- 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?
- Explain a time when you needed to step into a situation, create support, and achieve results.
- Tell me about task you did at work in which you had no experience. How did you address your inexperience?
- Describe a situation where you had to learn something new. What steps did you take?
- Describe how you have developed others in the past.
- Explain a time when you had to instruct or train someone on how to do a task. How did you go about this?
- Explain a situation when someone asked you for help outside of your job.
- 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?
- Describe a task that you had to accomplish without any direction.
- Tell me about a time when you delegated a project or task effectively.
- Give me an example of a goal you set that you reached successfully.
- Tell me about a time when you exceeded your manager’s expectations.
- Give me an example of a time when you had to go above and beyond your usual duties to accomplish a task.
- Describe a time when you had to balance multiple conflicting priorities and did so effectively.
- Provide an example of a situation when you prioritized elements of a large project or initiative.
- Tell me about a time when you faced an unreasonable deadline and how you handled it.
- What work accomplishment are you most proud of?
- 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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