Interview Question Library

 

Frustrated by a growing number of failed new hires, Thomas Edison created a written test in 1921 to evaluate the skills and knowledge of job applicants—and the modern job interview was born.

Research shows the best predictor of job success is achieved by matching the inherent attributes of a job applicant with the attributes required for the job. This is a list of interview questions that accurately measures the attributes top employers seek most.

Select the desired attribute and see the questions that will measure that attribute.

  1. Accountability
  2. Adaptability
  3. Career Commitment
  4. Career Satisfaction
  5. Coachability
  6. Communication
  7. Conflict Resolution
  8. Creativity
  9. Decision Making
  10. Detail Orientation
  11. Drive
  12. Emotional Intelligence
  13. Empathy/Compassion
  14. Grit
  15. Humility
  16. Initiative
  17. Integrity
  18. Intellectual Curiosity
  19. Interpersonal Skills
  20. Leadership
  21. Learning Ability
  22. Life Satisfaction
  23. Orderliness
  24. Organizational Commitment
  25. Passion
  26. Persuasion
  27. Planning
  28. Politeness
  29. Problem Solving
  30. Professionalism
  31. Reasoning
  32. Results Orientation
  33. Self-awareness
  34. Self-regulation
  35. Strategic Thinking
  36. Stress Management
  37. Team Work
  38. Work Ethic

 

Accountability

Assumes responsibility for successfully accomplishing work objectives and delivering business results; setting high standards of performance for self and others.

  • Please tell me about a time you demonstrated ownership of a project. How complex was it? How did you hold yourself accountable to the results?
  • Tell me about a time you took responsibility for something outside your job's typical requirements. Why did you do it? What was the outcome?
  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake at work. How did you react? What was the result?

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Adaptability

Adapts quickly to change and easily considers new approaches.

  • Tell me about a time where your job or work environment underwent substantial change. What happened and how did you handle that change?
  • Tell me about a time when you were given an important objective and failed to achieve it. What was the situation and how did you react? What did you do to set yourself up for success next time?
  • If you are offered a job with us and we tell you there are going to be changes to your job responsibilities. How hard would it be for you to adjust to the new tasks and assignments you'd be given? What sort of changes would affect you the most? Can you give me an example of how you've adjusted to new responsibilities in the past?

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Career Commitment

Degree to which an individual resiliently identifies with their career in the face of adversity and plans their trajectory.

  • What are the largest sacrifices you have made thus far for your career? What motivated you to make these sacrifices?
  • Where would you like your career to take you? What is your career goal? Do you have a specific path to that goal in mind already or are you still exploring your options? What makes you confident that this is what you want to do? 
  • Do you feel like your career path is something you wish to stay in or would you like to explore careers in the future? [After response] Can you explain to me why?

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Career Satisfaction

Demonstrates a high level of satisfaction with other aspects relative to employment, such as his/her career.

  • How satisfied with your current work responsibilities and tasks are you? What would you change to enjoy your work more?
  • Based on the responsibilities listed for this position, which tasks or responsibilities are you most excited about? Why do you think you will enjoy them?
  • Do you feel like your career is what you wanted it to be? If you could change anything at all, what would it be?

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Coachability

Capable of being easily taught and trained to do something better.

  • Tell me about a time when you sought out advice or feedback about your work. Why did you seek this information out? What were the reactions from those you asked? How often would you say you seek out feedback in this way?
  • Tell me about a time when objectives you were responsible for weren't being met and describe how you responded? [Wait & Listen] What lessons did you take away from that experience?
  • Tell me about a time when you failed to achieve a goal or objective. What did you take away from that experience and how, specifically, have you applied what you've learned since then?

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Communication

Listening, speaking, and signaling to promote mutual understanding between oneself and others.

  • Have you ever had someone fail to adequately communicate important information to you? How did you respond? What was the outcome?
  • Tell me about a time that you felt there was a breakdown in communication between you and a coworker. [Wait for Candidate to Respond] What did you do to help resolve the situation? Looking back, what could you have done better?
  • Tell me about a time when you have had a manager or leader fail to communicate necessary information to you. How did you respond to this situation? What did you take away from the experience?

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Conflict Resolution

Manages and resolves conflicts, grievances, confrontations, or disagreements in a constructive manner to minimize negative personal impact.

  • Tell me about a time when you were in a situation where you had to decline to help someone in the workplace who desperately needed support. Walk me through how you gave them that news and how they responded. How did that affect your relationship with that person?
  • If some team members were having a disagreement in the workplace, how would you approach improving their working relationship. What specific steps or actions would you take? What would you do if your efforts failed?

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Creativity

Using imagination to recognize or generate original ideas.

  • Would you consider yourself a creative person? Why or why not? Can you provide some examples that show why you feel this way?
  • How well do you feel your creativity is being utilized in your previous job? Can you explain why you feel that way? How have you tried to leverage your creativity in the past?
  • Can you describe a time when you came up with an innovative approach to solve a problem, challenging team, organization, or an issue that is commonly faced by your industry? [Wait for the Candidate to Respond] How do you think you could leverage that experience in our organization?

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Decision-Making

Makes sound, well-informed, and objective decisions; perceives the impact and implications of decisions and commits to action, even in uncertain situations.

  • Tell me about a time you made a risky decision that you weren't certain about. [Wait & Listen] What led you to make the decision that you ultimately made? [Wait & Listen] What were the results of that decision? [ Wait & Listen] Did this experience teach you any lessons you've applied since?
  • Walk me through an important decision you made and give me specifics about how and why you came to that decision.
  • How do you feel about making important decisions at your workplace? Walk me through an example that showcases how you make decisions.

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Detail Orientation

Ensures information is complete and accurate; follows up with others to ensure that agreements and commitments have been fulfilled.

  • Do you prefer to work on small details and perfecting a project or at a broader, bigger picture scope? Can you explain why you prefer to work that way?
  • When given a task, how often do you find yourself correcting a mistake or error? When do you usually find these mistakes or errors? What do you do to find them?

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Drive

Motivated by success and passionate about working and achieving higher results. Persists to complete tasks / responsibilities, even in the face of difficulties, is optimistic and tenacious all through. Operates with personal ownership and looks for ways and means to improve performance all the time.

  • Tell me about a time where you were given a daunting project that would take a lot of effort and time to complete. What was this project? How did you maintain your motivation and energy? How did you complete the project? What were the results?
  • Tell me about a time when you were faced with a difficult project or goal. What was the situation, what did you do, and what were the outcomes?
  • What is one thing you have done over the past year to improve your performance at work?

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Emotional Intelligence

The ability to recognize the presence and meanings of emotions in others and your own emotions and use that knowledge to successfully problem solve in social situations and cope with environmental demands and pressures.

  • How long does it usually take to realize that you are stressed or upset and what makes you realize you are? <Wait & Listen> Describe how you communicate those negative feelings to others in the workplace when you need to manage or reduce them? Can you give me an example?
  • Tell me about a time where you found that the way you were interacting with other people in the workplace, either customers or coworkers, wasn't working as well as you wanted. How did you become aware that these interactions weren't working? <Wait & Listen> What was happening in these relationships? <Wait & Listen> What did you do to better align the way you were interacting with the needs of the people around you?
  • Tell me about a time when you used your knowledge of the feelings of others to improve relationships to achieve your goals in the workplace. <Wait & Listen> How were you able to improve an important work relationship?

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Empathy/Compassion

The capacity to understand and feel what another person is experiencing by considering their point of view rather than their own.

  • Tell me about a time where someone misunderstood your point of view. [Wait & Listen] Why do you think they didn't understand your perspective? Where do you think they were coming from? What did you do to clarify or rephrase your position? How well did that work?
  • Tell me about a time where someone became angry at you for something that you had no direct control over. What do you think of that person? What kind of place do you think they were in emotionally? Did you learn anything from that experience?
  • In your view, what causes customers to become frustrated or irate with employees? If you were the employee how would you resolve the situation with the customer?

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Grit

Deals effectively with pressure; remains optimistic and persistent, even under
adversity. Recovers quickly from setbacks.

  • In the past, have you ever started a project that you felt full of interest and enthusiasm for but found those feelings fade over the lifespan of the project? What happened with that project?
  • How important is it to you that you enjoy the task you are working on? Are you able to force yourself to get things done even if you don't enjoy that particular task? Do you think the quality of your work would suffer? Why or why not?
  • Tell me about a time you failed at something important? [Wait for candidate to respond] How did you deal with that?

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Humility

Does not consider his or herself superior to others; shows an awareness of his/her defects or shortcomings.

  • Give me an example of a time where you made a mistake and had to admit that mistake to others? How did you handle that situation? Why did you admit your mistake?
  • Tell me about a time where you were the expert in the room and others were not as skilled or knowledgeable. What was the scenario, how did you use your position of authority?

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Initiative

Identifies opportunities and issues, and proactively acts and follows through on work activities to capitalize or resolve them.

  • Tell me about a time you took on additional responsibility without asking or being asked. What prompted you to do so and what were the results?
  • Can you tell me about a time you made a change at work without being asked? Why did you feel making that change was necessary? How did others receive the change?
  • In your opinion, when is it a good time to do something that you haven't been asked to do? Can you give me an example of when you've done so?

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Integrity

Behaves in an honest, fair, and ethical manner. Shows consistency in words and actions. Models high standards of ethics.

  • Can you give me an example where you chose to do the right thing at work despite potentially risking your job, reputation, or that of a coworker?
  • Tell me about a moment in your work life where you stood up for what you knew was right? Why did you make that stand?
  • Can you tell me about a time at work where you had to cut some corners to get the job done? If yes, what were the corners? If no, do you feel like there is ever a time where that could be necessary?

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Intellectual Curiosity

Shows significant interest in learning things that he/she does not know or understand.

  • Are there any things you enjoy learning about that aren't directly related to your job's responsibilities and performance? What are they and why do they inspire your interest?
  • Give me an example of one thing you've been learning about lately. How and why did you come to learn about that topic?
  • What is one thing you have been wanting to learn? [Wait & Listen] Why do you want to learn about it are you doing anything about it?

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Interpersonal Skills

Displaying the skills to work effectively with others from diverse backgrounds.

  • Tell me about a time when you disagreed with the actions or decisions of your manager or supervisor. How did you approach the situation? Do you feel like you were able to resolve the disagreement?
  • At your previous job, how did you build quality relationships with your coworkers? What about with people working in other functions in the company? What did the people you develop good relationships with have in common with each other? What about with you? Did you build any work relationships with people you weren't expecting to? Who and why?
  • How comfortable are you working with people who are different than you? Are there any types of people, behaviors, or attitudes that you find you don't get along with? Have you ever had to work with people who you conflicted with? What was the situation and how was it resolved?

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Leadership

The ability to motivate and organize the efforts of others and empower others with the information and resources they need to successfully accomplish business objectives.

  • Do you have any areas you feel you need to continue developing to be a better leader? What are they?
  • What kind of leadership style would former colleagues describe you as having? Can you give me any specific examples showing how you've used your leadership style to get things accomplished in your past work?
  • Give me an example of a time when an employee went against your directives. What steps did you take to correct the outcome, and how did you set expectations for the future? What was the outcome with this employee? Did you learn any lessons in the process of dealing with this situation?

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Learning Ability

Uses efficient learning techniques to acquire and apply new knowledge and skills; uses training, feedback, or other opportunities for self-learning and development.

  • Tell me about a time your manager gave you feedback that you didn't agree with. What was that feedback? What did you do? Which parts of their feedback did you apply if any? What steps did you take to ensure you wouldn't get that kind of feedback again?
  • Tell me about a major weakness that you have overcome or are currently improving. What are you doing to improve? Is that a strategy specific to this specific self-improvement effort or does it reflect your general approach to self-improvement? [If it is not the general approach] What is your typical approach to self-improvement?   
  • Give me a skill or knowledge area that you needed to develop to increase your performance. What steps did you take to develop in this area? Did you have a coach or mentor, formal or informal, helping you? [If yes] What was that coaching experience like for you? What did you like and dislike about it?

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Life Satisfaction

Demonstrates a general satisfaction with and positive outlook on life.

  • Do you feel that the activities you do outside of work make up for the demands of work life? Why or why not?
  • How would you say your work life balance is currently? Where do you want it to be?

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Orderliness

Is adept at maintaining order, structure, and tidiness.

  • Tell me about a time that you worked in an unstructured work environment. How did you feel about working in that environment? Did you do anything to change it?
  • Do you use any methods or tools to keep track of your tasks and schedule? [If Yes] What are they and how do they help you? [If no] So how do you keep your tasks and objectives on track?
  • In your previous job, were you ever asked to balance multiple projects, tasks, and/or priorities simultaneously? Can you describe these projects or priorities to me and provide examples of how you structured your time and efforts to be successful?

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Organizational Commitment

Shows a track record of loyalty to prior organizations and demonstrates a strong affinity, loyalty, or commitment to our organization (e.g., our mission, brand, product, etc.)

  • Tell me about a time when you have stayed loyal to a team or organization even when things were difficult. What are the reasons for staying loyal during these difficulties?
  • How hard has it been to seek new employment and leave your old team and organization? Why do you feel the time is right now to find new work?
  • What is the biggest thing you are excited about at our company? How do you think your values and our values fit together? Are there any that you feel demonstrate you are a good fit with us?

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Passion

Demonstrates significant enthusiasm or devotion to an idea, activity, or cause.

  • How are you staying up to date and relevant in your current field? What motivates you to do so?
  • What kind of work energizes you and fulfills you? What leaves you dragging and bored?
  • If you were to get this job, which part would you be most excited about? Where do you want this job to lead you? Why do you think this is a stepping stone on that path?

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Persuasion

Uses persuasion to gain the support and cooperation from stakeholders, superiors, colleagues, subordinates and other parties to achieve a desired course of action consistent with strategic goals and objectives.

  • How do you influence others? What skills or strengths do you leverage to persuade others to cooperate and listen? Please give me an example that showcases these strengths from your previous position.
  • Let's pretend that there are people in our company that are not interacting with our customers effectively. What would you do to convince them to change how they interact with our customers?
  • Let's say you are on a team and one of your teammates offers a suggestion you feel will lead to failure. What would you do to help them see the issue?

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Planning

Determines necessary sequence of activities and the efficient level of resources needed to achieve short- and long-term goals.

  • Describe a time where you had to juggle multiple priorities at once. How did you handle this? How well would you say you prioritized?
  • Tell me about a time when you were involved in a poorly planned project. What was your specific role in the planning? Where were the mistakes made? What was the outcome?  What is your take away from that experience?

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Politeness

Shows polished manners demonstrating respect and consideration for others.

  • Occasionally at work we are faced with rude people. At what point do you think it is okay to stop being polite in your response to their demands or statements? Have you ever had this happen to you?
  • How would you handle a situation where someone is being rude to you at work? How do you typically handle people who are rude to you? To what extent do you put up with it and what typically drives or determines your response?

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Problem Solving

Identifies problems and uses logic, judgment, and data to evaluate alternatives and recommend solutions to achieve desired organizational goal or outcomes.

  • How often have you leveraged your problem-solving skills in your past jobs? Describe some of the situations in which you've used these skills to successfully resolve issues and how you did so. How would you say these experiences showcase your ability at applying problem solving skills to resolve difficult challenges and why do you feel that way?
  • How would you answer a question that you lack the appropriate information to resolve? Walk me through your process and the steps you would take.
  • Walk me through how you would quickly determine a course of action to solve a time critical problem. Can you share a real-world example of a time when you handled a situation that had to be dealt with immediately? Why did you choose the choice of action you did?

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Professionalism

Maintained a professional presence.

  • You are about to give a presentation to your board of directors. You typically present for your peers and colleagues. How would you go about preparing differently for the board of directors versus your team?
  • Can you remember a time that you failed to maintain a professional presence? If yes, tell me about that. If not, what things do you do to ensure you maintain a professional presence?

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Reasoning

Using logical thought processes to analyze information, make inferences, and draw accurate conclusions.

  • Describe a decision you made that came to the wrong conclusion. Where did you make your mistake? Given a chance to re-do the experience what sources of information and decision-making techniques would you use?
  • Can you tell me about a time you were presented with new information and had to make a recommendation based on that information? What specifically do you look for when it comes to information to help guide your decisions? What process do you take to come to your conclusions?

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Results Orientation

Focuses on desired results and sets and achieves challenging goals.

  • Describe a time when setting clear goals for yourself (or your team) helped you to exceed all expectations. Did you choose exceptional goals from the start? What happened after your success?
  • Give me an example of a time where you set difficult goals for yourself. What were those goals and how much of a stretch were they? Did you set those goals from the very beginning of the project? What were the results?
  • Tell me about a time where you had to re-evaluate your goals. What was the scenario and how high were your goals before you re-evaluated them? What made the re-evaluated goals more realistic?

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Self-awareness

Is aware of one's own emotions at any given time.

  • How good are you at recognizing when you are becoming upset or anxious? How quickly do you become aware of these emotions? What are some of the things you recognize as a sign that you are upset or anxious? How do you use that knowledge to your advantage?
  • What do you think your coworkers will say the most challenging aspect about working with you is when we ask them?

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Self-Regulation

Can regulate one's own emotions at will.

  • Please walk me through a situation you've previously been in where someone was very upset and blamed you. What happened and how did you respond?
  • Provide me an example of a time where you were asked to maintain your composure and hide negative feelings while dealing with a stressful situation in your workplace. Could you please walk me through the situation and the outcome?

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Strategic Thinking

Formulates objectives and priorities and implements plans consistent with the long-term interests of the organization in a global environment. Capitalizes on opportunities and manages risks.

  • Please give me a specific example of a time when you needed to forecast the objectives and priorities for a long-term project. How complex was this project? How did you go about considering all the options and necessary outcomes? What were the results?
  • What do you foresee the likely key objectives, priorities, and risks will be for you if you are accepting this position? Please walk me through how you plan to gather the information you need to confirm or identify these strategic aspects of your job? [Follow up - if answer doesn't fully address question] What are the key pieces of information you would be looking for and where would look for them.

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Stress Management

Shows an ability to manage the stress associated with doing difficult things (e.g., meeting deadlines, juggling multiple competing demands, etc.)

  • Can you describe a time where your stress resulted in making errors in work? What happened in the aftermath of that incident? [Press the candidate for whether they sought to prevent the error from happening in the future and whether they were successful in doing so.]
  • Describe the most stressful work situation you have encountered. How did you handle it?

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Team Work

Encourages and facilitates cooperation, pride, trust, and group identity; foster commitment and team spirit; works with others to achieve goals.

  • What do you think people look for in an excellent teammate? Where would you say you match that description of an ideal teammate? What are your biggest areas for improvement?
  • What does being a team player means to you? Can you give specific examples of times you've been a team player in past jobs?

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Work Ethic

Demonstrates steady, earnest, and energetic effort in the performance of his/her duties or responsibilities.

  • Has there ever been a time where you adjusted your own expectations for your efforts because you could not meet the goals without taking work home with you or working overtime? [If Yes] What was the situation you were facing and how do you feel about that decision? [If No] Do you have an example of a situation where you regret not downgrading your goals to have better work-life balance?
  • How much daily supervision do you like to work under? Tell me about a time where you had to work without supervision. How did you approach your work during this time? What were the results?

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Something missing? Share your insights and ideas.

If there’s a specific attribute you want to measure, or something you’d like to add to this list just let us know and we’ll see if we can find or create the right interview question(s) for your situation. We want you to have the tools you need to make the most accurate hiring decisions possible.

 

Share your ideas and we will keep you updated on the progress.