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Common Interview Questions

Although you can’t anticipate the exact questions you’ll be asked, there are several question types you should expect in an interview.

"Tell me about yourself"

Many interviews start with some form of this question. Use it as your opportunity to showcase what you want an employer to know about you that’s relevant to the position. An easy model to help you formulate your response is Present-Past-Future.

  • Present: To start, introduce (or reintroduce) yourself, including what and where you’re studying and your expected graduation date. Your interviewer may be aware of these, but it’s information you know well, helping you establish confidence.
  • Past: Next, choose two or three examples from your experiences that align with the role’s qualifications, showcase your skills, and give you a competitive edge. What information should the interviewer know about you to make a hiring decision?
  • Future: Wrap up by talking about why you’re excited about the role or why you are a strong fit.

Sample Response:

"I’m a junior at Northwestern University in communication studies. I was introduced to the influence of data in decision-making in one of my courses, and I was intrigued by how data was used to help a company position its product. I led a case study with a team of four other students that analyzed the data set to generate recommendations. I pursued this type of work further last summer at Invento, a local startup. After a presentation to clients, I was humbled when they opted to move forward with my recommendation. To date, the client has reported increased conversion of site traffic to establishing accounts. I’m excited to share more regarding my experiences and how they align with the needs of this position."

Personal Questions

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Walk me through your resume.
  • What short and long-term goals have you set for yourself, and how do you plan to achieve them?
  • What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What is the most important lesson you've learned in or outside school?

Education Questions

  • Why did you choose your major?
  • How have your studies helped you prepare for this position?
  • What has been your favorite or least favorite course, and why?

Questions about the Company

  • Why  are you interested in this organization?
  • Why are you the best person for this position?
  • What challenges are you looking for in a position?
  • What do you expect from a supervisor?

Questions about your experience

  • What are your team-player qualities? Give examples.
  • What is your approach to handling conflict? Solving problems?
  • Describe a leadership role you held and why you committed time to it.
  • What work experience has been the most valuable to you?
  • What was the most useful criticism you received, and who provided it?
  • How did you decide which extracurricular activities to join? What did you gain from these experiences?
  • What types of situations put you under pressure? How do you deal with pressure?

Behavioral Questions

  • Describe the project or situation that best demonstrates your analytical skills.
  • Describe a situation where you had a conflict with another person and how you handled it.
  • Give an example of a problem you solved and the process you used to arrive at the solution.
  • Describe an idea that you developed and implemented that you felt was particularly creative or innovative.
  • Tell me about a difficult decision you have made.
  • Give an example of a situation in when you failed and how you handled it.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to persuade another person to see your point of view.
  • Tell me about a project you initiated.

Sample questions to ask the employer

  • What does success look like in this position, and how do you measure it?
  • What are the top priorities and accomplishments expected of this role over the next year?
  • What’s different about working here compared to other places you’ve worked?
  • What are the challenges someone in this position will face?
  • How will my performance be evaluated?
  • According to the job description, you’re looking for candidates with strong analytical abilities. Can you tell me how your employees use these skills in their work?
  • How would you describe the company’s culture and work environment ?
  • What does a typical day or week look like?
  • What are typical assignments for new employees?
  • How has {business trend or current event} affected your work?
  • Can you outline a typical career path in your organization?
  • How does the organization support professional development and ongoing training?
  • What qualities are most important in order to excel in this role?
  • What are the short- and long-term strategic directions of the organization?
  • What do you like most about working here?
  • What are the next steps in the hiring process?