Interview Questions

To learn about interviews, how you can prepare, and how to conduct yourself during and after an interview, please visit the interviewing page.

Below are examples and sub-categories of the three primary types of interview questions: general, behavioral and case. 

  • General questions are asked to get a sense of you and your background and experience.
  • Behavioral questions are skill-focused and are based on the philosophy that past experiences predict future behavior. 
  • Case questions present you with a situation and require you to share how you would approach it. 

General Questions

General questions are the most commonly asked questions.  Even if you expect that your interview will contain many behavior-based and case questions, be ready for the general questions including the most dreaded: “Tell me about yourself” and “What is your greatest weakness?”

Open-ended questions

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why should I hire you? 
  • What makes you unique?
  • What goals have you set for yourself? How are you planning to achieve them?
  • What is your most significant accomplishment?
  • To what do you owe your present success?
  • What motivates you?
  • What turns you off?
  • We are looking at a lot of great candidates; why are you the best person for this position?

Questions about your college experience

  • Why did you choose Brandeis?
  • Why did you choose your major(s)? 
  • Which classes and subjects did you like the best? Least? Why? 
  • Do you think your grades are a good indication of your academic ability? 
  • Have you participated in any extracurricular activities?  What have you learned from participating in them? 
  • What do you like to do in your free time?
  • Of the courses you have had at college which courses have you enjoyed the most?
  • Describe how your favorite course has contributed your career interests?
  • What is your GPA? How do you feel about it? Does it reflect your abilities?
  • Since you have been at college, what is it that you are proudest of?
  • How have you changed personally since starting college?
  • Why did you choose the campus involvement / activities you did? What did you gain? What did you contribute?
  • Describe a leadership role of yours and tell why you committed your time to it.
  • In a particular leadership role you had, what was your greatest challenge?
  • While in college what is the toughest decision that you have had to make?

Questions about your past work experience

  • What were your responsibilities as a …[research assistant, tutor, etc.]? 
  • Did you work independently or as part of a team? 
  • How did you secure the internship at…? 
  • What did you learn from your work at…?
  • What have you learned from some of the jobs you have held? 
  • What kind of work environment do you prefer? 
  • How do you approach a work assignment when you may not “have all of the answers?”
  • What work experiences have been most valuable to you and why?
  • What have the experiences on your resume taught you about managing and working with people?
  • How have your educational and work experiences prepared you for this position?

Questions about the position/employer

  • Why did you decide to seek a position with this firm/organization? 
  • What do you know about our firm/organization? 
  • What do you think is the most important current question facing our industry today? 
  • What criteria are you using to evaluate a particular firm/organization? 
  • What factors are important to you in a job? 
  • What are you looking for in a supervisor? 
  • Do you have a geographic preference? 
  • Are you willing to travel? 
  • What are your long-term goals? 
  • How does this job fit into your career development?
  • Why are you interested in our organization?
  • What type of position are you seeking?
  • What industry besides this one are you looking into?
  • Why have you chosen this particular profession?
  • What interests you about this job?
  • What challenges are you looking for in a position?
  • What makes you think you can handle this position?
  • What can you contribute to this company?
  • Why should my company be interested in you?
  • What type of work environment appeals to you most?
  • With which other companies are you interviewing?
  • What characteristics do you think are important for this position?
  • Why do you feel that this company will be a career for you rather than a job?
  • Describe the type of manager you prefer.

Questions about your characteristics

  • What do you consider to be your major strengths and weaknesses? 
  • How would a friend or a professor who knows you well describe you? 
  • How do you handle pressure? 
  • How do you evaluate success?
  • What has been your greatest challenge?
  • If you could change a decision you made what would you change and why? 
  • What three words would people who know you well use to describe you?
  • If I asked people who know you for one reason why I shouldn't hire you what would they say?
  • What types of situations put you under pressure, and how do you deal with pressure?
  • Of the hobbies and interests listed on your resume tell me which is your favorite and why?
  • When you take on a project do you like to attack the project in a group or individually?
  • What are your team-player qualities?
  • Name two management skills that you have.
  • What characteristics are most important in a good manager? How have you displayed one of them?

Sample Behavior-based Questions

Because behavior-based questions are designed to directly address the skills desired for the position, the examples below demonstrate the way in which these questions could be raised for the skills your interviewer is seeking.

  • Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
  • Summarize a situation where you took the initiative to get others going on an important issue, and played a leading role to achieve the results wanted.
  • Describe an instance when you had to think on your feet to extricate yourself from a difficult situation.
  • Tell me about a time when you worked in a group situation and things were not going well. What did you do to make the situation better and what was the result of your efforts? Would you have done anything different based on the outcome? If so, what?
  • Please give a specific example of how you utilized a strength to complete a task and when you worked on improving a weakness. 
  • Were you ever involved with a situation involving racial tension? If so, how did you handle it?
  • What major problem have you encountered and how did you deal with it? 
  • Give me an example of a time that you motivated a group of people to accomplish a goal. 
  • Describe a situation in which the outcome of your work was not as successful as you had planned. 
  • Can you describe a past experience of collaborating with a colleague with whom you disagreed? 
  • Please give me an example of a situation where you took charge. 
  • Describe a time in which you were involved in a project as part of a team. 
  • Walk me through the steps you took when you analyzed data for your linguistic class.
  • Describe a situation where you had to work with someone who was difficult. How did you handle it?
  • Give me an example of an idea that has come to you and what you did with it?
  • Give me an example of a problem you solved and the process you used.
  • Give me an example of the most creative project that you have worked on.
  • Tell me about a project you initiated.
  • Describe the project or situation that best demonstrates your analytical abilities.
  • Tell me about a team project of which you are particularly proud; describe your contribution to that project.
  • Give me a situation in which you failed, and how you handled it.

Case Questions

Case interviews require a great deal of preparation and practice.  The case questions below are designed to get you started.  If you will be engaging in case interviews in finance or consulting, please also review the guides on Vault via B.hired and read "Case In Point" by Marc Cosentino.

Human services & education cases

  • If a student said she thought you were the worst teacher she ever had, how would you react and what would you say?
  • What was the most frustrating thing that happened to you as a staff member in a homeless shelter?  How did you handle it?
  • If a student came to you and said, "None of the other students like me," what would you tell him/her?
  • You are tutoring a special needs student with ADHD, she is repeatedly disruptive – talking to those around her, getting up to sharpen her pencil a couple times during the tutoring session, and making comments such as, “This is stupid. Who needs to know this stuff anyway?” What would you do?
  • If you see a 180-degree turn in a client, what would you do?

Business cases

  • You are the head of a large corporation. Your company must build a new paper plant. You must decide what country to build the plant. What factors would you consider?
  • A big health care company hired you to determine a strategy for improving profitability through growth. The company hopes to reach its goal in three years. What would you advise?
  • New Media is an Internet provider that has had three straight quarters of high profit gains followed by a 50% drop in profits this quarter. What has happened?

Guesstimates

  • How many 747's are above Kansas right now?
  • How much beer is consumed in the United States each year?
  • How many payphones are there in Manhattan?
  • How many tennis balls fit in a swimming pool?
  • How many men's suits were sold in the United States last year?

Brainteasers

  • Why are manhole covers round?
  • You have a five-gallon jug and a three-gallon jug. You must obtain exactly four gallons of water. How will you do it?
  • You are in a rowboat on a lake with the anchor dropped. You pull up your anchor. Does the water level in the lake rise, lower or stay the same?Asking strong questions helps you determine if a position or organization is a good fit for you while simultaneously making you look good to an employer by highlighting your research, interest and preparation. Make sure that your questions relate to the position and the organization/industry, are appropriate to the interviewer’s level and position in the organization, and express your research and interest for the position/organization.

Questions You Might Ask

Asking strong questions helps you determine if a position or organization is a good fit for you while simultaneously making you look good to an employer by highlighting your research, interest and preparation. Make sure that your questions relate to the position and the organization/industry, are appropriate to the interviewer’s level and position in the organization, and express your research and interest for the position/organization.

  • I read that ABC was just recognized as a top orphan drug research firm by the Wall Street Journal; what are key projects underway for the upcoming year?
  • While researching your company, I read that one of your challenges is xxx....How do you plan to meet this challenge?
  • What are the opportunities for advancement for individuals in this position? 
  • When may I expect to hear from you?
  • What are the next steps in the search process?