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Sample Interview Questions

There are many common questions that are asked in most interviews. Most interviewers will choose a variety of questions that focus on your skills, experiences, and personality. Below is a list of common interview questions by type:

Traditional Questions | Behavioral Questions | Faculty Interview Questions | Questions You Might Ask

For more information on answering questions, visit our page on successful strategies for structuring your answers.

Traditional Questions

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why did you choose your field of study?
  • Describe your most rewarding academic experience.
  • What things frustrate you most? How do you deal with them?
  • In what ways do you think you can contribute to our organization?
  • How do you evaluate success?
  • What things are most important to you in a job?
  • What are your long-term goals?
  • Why are you interested in this job/organization?
  • How do you solve conflicts?
  • What previous work experience has been the most valuable to you and why?
  • What are your three biggest strengths? Your three biggest weaknesses?
  • What has been your biggest challenge?
  • What accomplishments are you most proud of?
  • Describe your leadership style.
  • What characteristics do you think are important for this position?
  • How has your educational and work experiences prepared you for this position?
  • How do you motivate people?
  • How do you deal with pressure?
  • How do you manage your time?
  • What frustrates you the most?
  • What can you contribute to this organization?
  • What characteristics are most important in a good manager?
  • What challenges are you looking for in a position?
  • Are you willing to travel or relocate as part of your career?
  • Why are you the best candidate for this position?
  • How would your friends describe you? Your professors?
  • What else should I know about you?
  • What are your short-term goals?
  • What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
  • What do you really want to do in life?
  • How do you plan to achieve your career goals?
  • What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?
  • If you could do so, would you have changed anything about your academic experience?
  • In what kind of work environment are you more comfortable?
  • How would you describe your ideal job?
  • What have you learned from your mistakes?

Behavioral Questions

  • Tell me about a time when you had to cope with strict deadlines or time demands.
  • Give me an example of a time when another person really tried your patience. How were you able to speak respectfully, even when you were angry and frustrated?
  • Describe a time when you were under pressure to make an immediate decision. Did you take action immediately, or were you more deliberate and slow?
  • Tell me about a situation when you had to stand up for a decision you made even though it was unpopular.
  • Describe a time when you had to sell an idea to our boss, authority figure, or technical expert.
  • Give me an example of a time when you found a systematic method for solving problems to be a good routine to follow.
  • Tell me about your experience in dealing with routine work. What kinds of problems did you have to overcome in order to concentrate on the details of the job?
  • Tell me about a time when you took the initiative to set goals and objectives even though you were not prompted or directed by others to do so.
  • Even more difficult than dealing with a difficult person is being of service to a difficult person. Tell me about a time when you have been successful with this type of situation at work.
  • Describe a time when you had to bend the rules in order to be successful or accomplish a goal.
  • Tell me about a time when your understanding of organizational climate or culture helped you to achieve your desired results.
  • Tell me about a time when you were proud of your ability to be objective even though you were emotional about a problem situation.
  • Give me an example of a time when you used facts and reason to persuade another person to take action.
  • Describe a work situation where your ability to set a positive example served as a model to others.

Faculty Interiew Questions

For additional interview questions that you might encounter, visit our page on Faculty Interivews.

  • Why did you choose your field of study?
  • Tell me about your research/dissertation. (Have versions for experts and non-experts.)
  • Why did you choose your dissertation topic?
  • What contribution does your dissertation make to the field?
  • Discuss the limitations of your research.
  • What are your research plans for the next (x) years?
  • What facilities/travel/resources do you need for your research?
  • What are your plans for securing funding to support your research?
  • What characteristics do you think are important to be a good teacher?
  • Are you a good teacher? Explain why and how.
  • What is your teaching philosophy?
  • How do you feel about teaching [names an introductory level course]?
  • What courses are you prepared to teach?
  • Do you have any new courses you'd like to develop?
  • How would you instruct and guide undergraduate research?
  • What are your other interests?
  • How would you describe your ideal job? What type of institution do you prefer to work at?
  • How do you feel about this institution/community? Do you think you could live in this small, rural town?

Questions You Might Ask

You should be asking questions during your interview, especially during those moments when an interviewer asks the inevitable, "Do you have any questions for us?" Prepare a few questions in advance. Take advantage of your opportunity to learn more about the position, and ask questions that will help you determine if it will be a good "fit" for you should you receive an offer.

  • Describe a typical first year assignment.
  • What are the responsibilities of the position?
  • What are the most challenging aspects of the job?
  • What is the departmental structure?
  • How would you describe your organization’s culture?
  • Why do you enjoy working for your organization?
  • What initial training will I receive?
  • What opportunities for professional growth does the organization offer?
  • How is an employee evaluated and promoted?
  • What are the characteristics of a successful person at your company?
  • What are the organization’s plans for future growth?
  • What is a typical career path at your organization?
  • What are the biggest challenges facing the organization/department?
  • What is the management style of the organization? Of the department?
  • What are the goals of the department? Of the organization?
  • How much travel is normally expected?
  • How many hours a week to employees usually work?
  • How frequently do you relocate your employees?
  • Does the organization promote from within or fill high-level position with outside hires?
  • What does the department or campus do to orient new faculty members?
  • Does the campus or department have formal faculty mentoring programs? Informal mentoring?
  • How much decision-making authority is given to new employees?
  • How would you describe the culture of your department/college/campus?
  • What are the biggest challenges facing the campus and/or department?
  • Are faculty evaluated annually? What is the evaluation process like here? How is promotion and tenure handled?