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Sample Interview Questions

Hiring managers have the important responsibility to select and hire the best candidate for a position. Interviewing for mission fit at BYU and the job's appropriate skill set is a part of this process. Interviews should be used, along with reference checks, to identify qualified applicants.

Below are several categories of sample interview questions. This list is not comprehensive; use it to design appropriate questions related to your position. All interviews should include at least one mission fit question.

Guidelines for legal interviews can be found on the "Hiring Tips & Guidelines" webpage.

    Mission Fit


    • It is expected that all BYU employees are fully aligned with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the mission and aims of BYU.
      • What does it mean to you to be fully aligned with the Church of Jesus Christ?
      • Please share your feelings about the mission and aims of BYU.
    • One of the aims of a BYU education is that it should be “spiritually strengthening”.
      • How would you help spiritually strengthen students and colleagues at BYU?
    • What interests you most about working for BYU?
    • BYU President Kevin J Worthen described the phrase “inspiring learning” as both inspiring our students to learn, as well as learning that leads to inspiration.
      • How would you incorporate inspiring learning and decision-making in your job?
    • President Spencer W. Kimball, in his Second Century Address at BYU, challenged all employees to be bilingual (i.e., being proficient in both professional and spiritual matters).
      • Can you provide examples of how you would meet this challenge?
    • One of the aims of a BYU education is that it should lead to “lifelong learning”. 
      • How do you pursue lifelong learning in your own life?
    • BYU has a mission to “assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal life.”
      • How have you done this in your life and how you would envision helping to fulfill that mission as an employee at BYU?
    • One of the key responsibilities of employees at BYU is to help students build character.
      • What have you done to help build character in others?

    Accuracy


    • Have you ever worked for a supervisor that demanded accuracy of you? What activities required accuracy?
    • Suppose we called your supervisor and asked “Is (name) accurate in what he/she does?” What would your supervisor say?
    • When it comes to accuracy, what do you need to improve on?
    • Could you give me an example of the type of work you did on a day-to-day basis that required accuracy?
    • Are you strongest in the areas of accuracy or speed? Why? Working on what?
    • Did the pressure of your past job lend itself to a mistake environment?
    • In some positions it is very easy to make errors. What do you do to control errors?

    Current/Last Job


    • Tell me about your current/last job:
    • To whom do you report?
    • What aspects of your previous position did you find professionally challenging?
    • What were your two most important achievements in your current job?
    • How do you think your subordinates would describe you as a manager and supervisor?
    • What attributes do you believe an effective manager should possess?
    • What plans do you have for self-development in the next 12 months?
    • What types of criticisms are leveled at you most often?
    • Many of us improve our personal interaction with others as we mature. Looking back over the past two years, in what way have you improved?
    • What steps do you generally follow in making a decision?
    • Tell me what your supervisor would say about your secretarial skills and abilities. What particular things would he/she tell me are your strong points clerically? What would he/she tell me that you would need to improve upon?

    Customer Service


    • Give me an example of the type of work experience you have had on a day-to-day basis with the public.
    • What has been your most rewarding experience dealing with the public/customers?
    • What "new way of doing things" did you introduce in your last job in dealing with the public?
    • What typical kinds of customer dissatisfaction were inherent in your last job? How did you deal with this?
    • What types of things were you able to do to help in alleviating this customer dissatisfaction?
    • Give me an example of a time when you were able to help an angry customer with a problem.
    • How do you define great customer service?
    • What would others say about how you handle customers? Would they want you to wait on them? Did anyone ever ask for you?
    • What kind of recommendation would your previous supervisor give you regarding your customer relations skills?
    • Do you like working with the general public? Would you prefer to work alone?
    • Give me an example when you were praised for your people skills in a past job.
    • You have an angry customer that comes up to you. His/her past dealing with the department has been negative. This time he/she is going to get it done right. He/she demands you put him/her on top priority basis. Your department is now running a major project for your supervisor and can't accommodate this customer. How would you handle the customer?

    Dependability


    • When we call your supervisor, what will he/she tell us about your ability to be dependable?
    • When the workday starts are you the first one there?
    • How would you define a dependable employee? Are you known as a dependable individual? Why?
    • Describe how you have organized yourself in your present job so that you could create a dependable atmosphere with your clients/customers.
    • When we check for references what will your supervisor tell us about the number of days you were absent last year?
    • During a typical month, how many days are you late to work?

    Detail-oriented


    • Give me an example of the deadlines that needed to be met in your last job. How did you make sure things got done?
    • Give me an example of a time when you thought you had "it all nailed down" but a detail you missed fell through the cracks. What happened?
    • Give an example of the most detail-oriented positions you have had.
    • Describe a situation where you had to multi task. How did you handle it?
    • How do you keep track of duties that must get done concurrently?

    Enthusiasm and Engagement


    • What interests you most about this position?
    • Tell me about a colleague you really admired and why.
    • Have you ever been in a situation where there was “negative energy” among coworkers?  What did you do about it?
    • Tell me about a time when you were intensely motivated at work.
    • If you could have your dream job, what would it be?
    • Do you see this position as a final destination or a stepping stone?
    • What are you doing when you’re most productive in your job?

    Handling Complex Problems


    • Give me an example of the last major project you worked on. What was your role? Did you work as a team? What were the issues involved?
    • Do you have any statistical background, either in school or on the job?
    • Could you describe a decision you recently made that was initially unpopular with your supervisors or staff? How did you handle it?
    • Describe how you think through a difficult problem.
    • Have you ever had to "sell" top management on a decision you made? Please describe the situation.
    • Describe a project you recently worked on that got "bogged down" for some reason and what you did to put it back on line.
    • What types of problems do you solve on a day-to-day basis?
    • Did you make any changes in the firm you felt particularly proud of?
    • Give me an example of a very complex problem or issue you have faced. How did you solve the problem?

    Handling Pressure


    • Describe a situation where you were under a great deal of pressure. How did you handle it?
    • We have a real pressure-cooker position here. (Explain why) Have you had a position that relates to this situation? How did you handle the pressure?
    • Constant pressure gets to all of us after a long period of time. Describe an incident where you did not handle pressure well.
    • Did your position have cyclical periods when you were extremely busy and then dead periods? How long did they last? What was it like during both periods of time?
    • What flusters you when a deadline is near?
    • If I called your supervisor, what would he/she say about your ability to handle pressure? What would he/she say you needed to improve on?

    Honest but Tactful


    • Describe a time when you communicated something unpleasant or difficult to your supervisor.
    • Tell me about a particular instance when your job required you to say how you REALLY felt about a situation.
    • Tell me about an experience when you had to confront someone or give candid feedback.
    • In your experience, is it better to confront difficult situations, or to not “stir things up”?

    Office Skills


    • What kind of training, schooling, or experience do you have regarding office skills and abilities?
    • How would you rate your Microsoft Word skills? Why did you rate yourself that way? How long have you used it on the job? Have you had formal training or did you learn on the job?
    • Give me an example of the types of things you would use MS Word for. What functions are you familiar with and use daily? Which functions do you use occasionally?
    • Are you as familiar with Quattro Pro/Excel as you are with WordPerfect/MS Word? Have you created spreadsheets and macros with Quattro Pro/Excel?
    • Which of your former jobs required the use of your office skills to their optimum? Describe.
    • Which firm utilized your telephone skills? What type of clientele did you work with?
    • Which office do you feel exhibited the most professional atmosphere? Was the dress standards - written or unwritten? What do you feel creates a professional atmosphere? How did you contribute to the overall professionalism of the office?
    • Which of your personality traits do you feel will be most effectively utilized in this position?
    • How did you learn to put your job tasks in order? How do you plan and organize to save time?
    • What kinds of things did you refer to your supervisor? What kinds of things did your supervisor refer to you?
    • Depict a situation where you had to give repetitive information, or answer similar questions. How did you make the situation tolerable?
    • Are there any skills or experiences etc. that we have not discussed that you feel would be relevant to this position?

    Power Questions


    • In the next 2 minutes, tell me about your professional experience/history.
    • Describe yourself in five words.
    • What kind of professional development and training would make you a more effective employee?
    • What aspects of your previous position did you find professionally challenging?
    • Why did you leave your last job?
    • What particular skills or experiences make you the best match for this position?
    • Did you get along well with the people on your last job? Explain.
    • What types of people seem to "rub you in the wrong way?"
    • Expand on those aspects of your schooling (or job) that you found to be most satisfying?
    • What experience do you have with (equipment, procedures, tasks, etc.)?
    • Why do you think this company should hire you?
    • What do you expect from the company that hires you?
    • In what ways could you contribute to this job?
    • How long do you think it would take you before you could contribute to this job?
    • What do you consider to be the ideal reporting relationship?
    • How do you feel an employee should be approached regarding his/her job performance?
    • Where does this position fall along your career path?
    • Do you consider yourself a self-starter? Why?
    • If you were to be successful in getting this job, what areas would be most challenging for you?
    • What skill or expertise do you feel like you’re still missing?
    • You may have heard the term ‘emotional intelligence’ before.  What does it mean to you to have ‘emotional intelligence’ in a work setting?

    Supervision


    • How many people have you supervised at one time? How many were Part-time? Full-time? How long were you their supervisor?
    • Did you have the sole responsibility of hiring/firing these people? Did your supervisor have any say in who was hired/fired?
    • Give me an example of a time when you handled an employee grievance that resulted in better working relationships.
    • Give me an example of a time when you handled a grievance that did not result in better working relationships. What would you have done differently?
    • What have you done to motivate your employees? Were they motivated? Give me a time when they were or were not.
    • What kind of management style do you take with your employees? How do you treat your employees? How do you resolve discipline problems?
    • What would your employees say about you as a manager? Were you an example of what you expected from others?
    • How did you elicit cooperation from your employees? Give me an example of a time when an employee would not do what was asked. How did you handle this?
    • What is required of a good leader? Which of these skills are you better at? What skills would your supervisor say that you would need to improve upon to be a better leader/supervisor?

    Takes Direction/Correction


    • Tell me about some difficult feedback that you received from a supervisor in the past.  How did you handle that?
    • Have you ever been in a situation where you thought you needed to adjust or modify your behavior?  How did you know?
    • Do you tend to take things personally?  Are you able to deal with challenges without becoming emotional?
    • Describe the best boss you’ve ever had.  What did he/she do that made him/her exceptional?

    Teamwork and Collaboration


    • When you are in a new social or work situation, do others tend to reach out to you or do you reach out to them?
    • Tell me about a time when you had to work closely with a coworker who was difficult.  How did you handle it?
    • What are the methods you have observed that are most motivating for teams?
    • Are you most productive working alone or in a team?
    • Would you rather be the captain of the team, the MVP, the unsung hero, or a “solid teammate”?  Why?
    • Share with me the first name of those you worked with most closely in your last job. What was their role in the company, and what was the most significant success you accomplished as a team? Who frustrated you the most? What was your strategy with that team member?

    Work with Little Supervision


    • Give me an example of a time when you were able to complete a project without immediate supervision. Was this normal? Did your supervisor often give you tasks to do which did not require direct supervision?
    • Give me an example of the kind of tasks or projects your supervisor would closely supervise.
    • Did your job require direct supervision? Or were you able to complete most things on your own?
    • What would your supervisor say about your abilities to complete tasks as assigned? What kind of a recommendation would this supervisor give me?
    • Do you prefer working alone, or with others?
    • In this regard, what job has given you the most job satisfaction in relationships with other employees? With customers? With your supervisor?
    • Would you rather be closely supervised and given good direction, or work out the solutions for yourself?