What Will They Ask?

Typical Questions Asked by Employers

An interview is not about winning the position but rather an opportunity for you and the interviewer to learn more about each other. You will probably observe how you react to specific questions and how you can “think on your feet.” There are better ways to impress a prospective employer than memorizing questions and answers. However, your preparation is essential to answer the common questions listed below.

General Tips on How to Answer Questions

Think about each question before answering. Consider what information the question is asking. Pausing a bit will give you time to take a deep breath, relax, and collect your thoughts. Remember, the key is to listen to what the employer is asking and to answer the questions thoughtfully and succinctly.

View this quick video on how to answer tough interview questions.

What They May Ask

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why do you want to work for this organization?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • What do you know about our products/services?
  • Why did you choose your particular field of study?
  • There are thousands of possible careers. Why do you want to follow this specific career path?
  • Why did you choose USC?
  • What distinguishes you from other candidates?
  • What job-related skills have you developed?
  • How does your education relate to this job?
  • Which classes in your major did you like best or least? Why?
  • What motivates you most in a job?
  • Describe how you handle stress. 
  • How do you take criticism?
  • Give me an example of a situation where you worked through a problem to find a solution.
  • What kind of supervision gets the best results from you?
  • Do you prefer working with others or independently?
  • What is your experience working on a team (work or school)?
    • What are your career goals—both short-term and long-term? Where do you see yourself in five years? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
  • Describe your perfect role. 
  • What do you consider to be your greatest strengths?
  • What personal development strategies have you used to overcome any of your weaknesses?
  • Discuss two accomplishments from your college experiences.
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • How do you feel about working overtime?
  • Are you willing to travel?
  • Are you open to relocation?

Sample Behavioral Interview Questions

Most behavioral interview questions begin with the words, “Give me an example of …” or “Tell me about a time when …” or “Describe a situation where …”. Some sample questions you might expect include:

  • Tell me about a time when you succeeded as part of a team.
  • Give me an example of a time when you failed.
  • What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? 
  • Give me an example of when you set a goal and achieved it.
  • Describe your plan of action when solving a problem.
  • Tell me about how you handle difficult people.
  • Give me an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to do multiple things simultaneously. How did you handle it?
  • Give me an example of a time when you motivated others.
  • Describe a situation where you had to work with someone difficult, and how did you resolve the issue?
  • Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic to solve a problem.
  • Tell me about a challenging assignment you worked on, and describe how you completed the assignment.
  • What are three successful leadership qualities you think are essential? How have you demonstrated these qualities in different situations?
  • Tell me about a recommendation you had to improve a business’s or organization’s process. How did you move that idea forward?

What They Should Not Ask

  • Are you married?
  • When do you plan to start a family?
  • What race are you?
  • What is your national origin?
  • How old are you?
  • What is your religion?
  • Have you ever been arrested?
  • What type of military discharge did you receive?
  • What is your maiden name?

What You Should Ask

You should prepare 3-5 questions for your interviewer(s) to help you better understand the position, its responsibilities, and the work environment.

  • Can you tell me more about the structure of your training program?
  • What challenges are currently facing your organization/industry?
  • What kind of training would I be given for this position?
  • What qualities are you seeking in the person for this job?
  • Tell me about the projects past employees/interns have completed.
  • Is this job an addition to staff or a replacement for a past employee?
  • Tell me about the immediate projects the person coming into this job will tackle.
  • What attracted you to (organization name you are interviewing for)?
  • What are the things you like most about working here?
  • What are the metrics the company/group uses to measure performance?
  • How do you define success?
  • What exciting or challenging directions do you anticipate over the next few years?
  • How do you measure an individual’s success in your organization?
  • What is the next step?
  • When will you make your selection?