Typical Interview Questions

When answering interview questions, it's helpful to consider the interviewer's perspective. Put yourself in the interviewer's shoes—think about what you would want a candidate to say if you were the boss. This is a very effective way to prepare for potential questions and practice your answers.

As you read through these sample questions, consider how you would answer them. It's helpful to keep in mind the skills and qualities interviewers look for in candidates. These include: leadership, interpersonal communication, ability to collaborate with or create a team, quick learner, creativity, perseverance, well organized, proactive approach, thoroughness, analytical thinking, problem solving, assertiveness, initiative, and flexibility.

Study all of these questions and think through your answers in advance. For more guidance, CLA students can set up a Mock Interview through CLA Career Services.


The Most Common Interview Questions

  • What experience do you have that relates to this position? Describe how your skills and education match the job requirements.
    • Answer Tip: Be sure your answer includes many of the skills listed in the job description
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
    • Answer Tip: Prepare at least 3 to 5 examples. At the interview, choose one or two that you feel appropriate.
    • Answer Tip: Focus on professional strengths that relate to the position. Don't feel you have to gloss over a weakness, but do explain how you're addressing it.
  • Tell me about yourself.
    • Answer Tip: Don't discuss any personal topics. Talk about aspects of your background that relate to the job, and that would make you a good fit.
  • Why do you want to work for this organization? Why are you interested in this position?
    • Answer Tip: Research the organization in advance and use the research in your answer. It's important to know basics about the organization. Interviewers also want to know you're excited about the position, so show enthusiasm for it!
  • Tell me about a project or challenge that didn't go well, and how you handled it.
    • Answer Tip: This is a big one. Expect to be asked this question. Be prepared to tell a story about a real challenge.

Behavior-Based Interview Questions

  • Tell me about a time you solved a difficult problem that could have had significant impact.
  • Describe the most difficult decision you've made in the last 6 months.
  • Tell me about a time you took initiative to do something that needed to be done, even though it wasn't really your responsibility
  • Describe an important goal you have achieved, and how you achieved it. Tell me about set-backs you experienced.
  • Describe a time when you had difficulty communicating your thoughts clearly to an individual or group.
  • Tell me about a time you voiced a concern or disagreement to a coworker, supervisor, or professor.
  • Tell me about a situation in which you had to collaborate with several people to achieve a goal.
  • Describe your most disappointing experience. How did you cope with it? What did you do to move beyond it?
  • Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that required coping skills.
  • Give me a specific example of a time when you convinced your supervisor or professor of an idea. How did you accomplish this and what was the result?
  • Tell me about a time when you took on a leadership role.
  • Tell me about a time you provided excellent customer service.

Other Typical Questions

  • What motivates you?
  • Why did you choose this career?
  • How do you work under pressure or stress?
  • What do you consider your greatest achievement?
  • Tell me about a mistake you made and what you learned from it.
  • Give me an example of your organizational skills.
  • What's the most creative idea you've ever had?
  • How will you evaluate your success after you graduate?
  • Describe your work ethic.
  • Tell me about someone you have a lot of respect for.
  • Give me an example of a time you learned something new.
  • What does diversity mean to you?
  • Give me an example of a time you provided excellent customer service.
  • What do you like best about our company/organization?
  • What do you think would be most challenging about this position? Most rewarding?
  • What five adjectives best describe you?
  • Why did you choose the major you did?
  • Give me an example of a time you worked on a team and what role you played.
  • Give me an example of a time you set a goal at work or in school. How did you accomplish your goal? Were you satisfied with the outcome?
  • Tell me about extracurricular activities you participated in, what role you played, and what you gained from them.
  • Tell me about a situation where you had to resolve a conflict with another person. (See Behavior-Based Interview Questions for tips.)
  • What did you like most about your previous job? Least?
  • Describe your work style. What work environment best suits you?
  • Describe the best supervisor you've ever had. If you could make one suggestion to that supervisor, what would it be?
  • If I called a previous supervisor or a professor, what would they say about you? What would they say are areas you could improve in?
  • What are your short- and long-term career goals? What are you doing to achieve those goals?
  • Where do you want to be in 3 to 5 years?