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Human Resources

Sample Interview Questions

From "Interview Guides for Supervisors; 5th Edition" (complete guide is available from HR).

Sample Questions

Work experience - general:

  • Please describe your present responsibilities and duties.
  • How do you spend an average work day?
  • Describe the most complex problem you have had to solve in your last/current job.
  • Discuss some of the problems you have encountered in past positions.
  • What do you consider to be your most important accomplishments in the last three positions you have held?
  • What would you want in your next job that you are not getting now?
  • Describe your involvement with committees, your role on the committees, and what you learned from each experience.
  • In previous positions, how much of your work was accomplished alone and how much as part of a team effort?
  • Give me an example of a time when you questioned a policy or procedure when it might have been better or easier to go along with it.
  • What kinds of policies and procedures have you created and to whom did you take them for approval?
  • Describe the most difficult interpersonal challenge you have been faced with and what you did about it.
  • Give an example of a potentially volatile situation or individual that you successfully calmed down and how you went about it.
  • Describe a time when you went "beyond the call of duty" to accomplish a task.
  • Describe the most difficult person you ever worked with and how you handled him or her.
  • What kinds of work pressures do you find the most difficult to deal with?
  • Describe what you mean by "on-the-job stress."
  • Describe the best boss you ever had.
  • Describe the worst boss you ever had.
  • What could your last employer have done to keep you?

Relevant education and training:

  • How do you think college contributed to your overall development?
  • In what way do you believe your education and training has prepared you for this position?
  • What special training do you have that is relevant to this position?
  • What licenses or certifications do you have that are relevant to this position?
  • What professional affiliations do you have that are relevant to this position?

The vacant position:

  • In what way does this position meet your career goals and objectives?
  • If you were hired for this job, in what areas could you contribute immediately, and in what areas would you need additional training?
  • What changes and developments do you anticipate in your particular field that might be relevant to this position?
  • What are your salary expectations for this position?
  • Can you perform all the essential functions of this job with or without reasonable accommodation?
  • Are you able to travel as required by this position?

Attendance and punctuality:

  • Do you know of any reason why you would not be able to get to work on time on a regular basis?
  • Are you able to work overtime?

Supervision:

  • Describe the positions in which you have had supervisory responsibility. How many people have you supervised and in what kinds of positions? Did you have hiring/firing authority?
  • Give an example of a time when you were disappointed by an employee's lack of accomplishment and what you did about it.
  • What are the generally accepted steps in progressive discipline?
  • In your experience, what kinds of things motivate an employee?
  • Describe an innovative way you handled a conflict involving two or more of your subordinates.
  • What kinds of things can a supervisor do to create a positive working environment?
  • Describe an effective performance planning and review process.
  • What methods of communicating with subordinates have you found most successful?
  • What recognition and reward systems for subordinates have you found most effective?
  • What is the role and major responsibilities of a supervisor, in your opinion?
  • What is an effective training and orientation program for a new employee?
  • Describe the most serious complaint and/or issue an employee brought to your attention and what you did about it.

Management:

  • What was the level of your decision-making authority in past positions?
  • Describe a time when you made a decision you made in the absence of a clear policy regarding the issue.
  • Describe your experience with setting goals and objectives.
  • Describe your experience in developing and monitoring budgets.
  • What fiscal authority have you had in past positions?
  • What is the most effective method for setting priorities, in your opinion?
  • What would you current/past employer tell us about your ability to organize your work?
  • What is your most innovative accomplishment?
  • What experience do you have with writing?
  • What experience have you had with public presentations? What was their purpose, and what visual aids and kinds of notes did you use?

Problem solving:

  • Briefly describe a difficult situation pertinent to the vacant position, doing so in a way that protects the privacy of individuals involved.
  • Ask an open-ended question - one that does not require knowledge of institutional or departmental policies and procedures - about how the applicant would deal with this situation. Encourage the applicant to think out loud and explain the kinds of solutions he or she might try.

Eligibility and availability:

  • All persons hired to work at Central Washington University must be eligible to work in the United States at the time of hire and must provide acceptable proof of identity and employment eligibility within three business days of the date of hire. If you are hired, will you be able to do so? (NOTE: When this question is asked of one applicant, it must be asked of all applicants still under consideration. Otherwise, allegations of illegal discrimination may arise.)
  • If you were offered the job, how soon would you be able to begin employment?