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Competency-based Interview Questions

Problem Solving / Analysis

  • Have you ever solved a problem others around you couldn't? Tell me about it.
  • What was one of the toughest problems you ever solved? What process did you go through to solve it?
  • Do people ever come to you for help in solving problems? Why?
  • How do you begin to solve a problem that initially seems insurmountable?
  • What do you do when you are faced with an obstacle to an important project? Give me an example.
  • How do you analyze different options to determine which is the best alternative?

Communication Skills

  • Give an example of how you carefully consider your audience prior to communicating with them. What factors influence your communication?
  • When do you think it is best to communicate in writing? When do you handle it face-to-face?
  • Describe a time you used your communication skills to negotiate with an angry person.
  • Tell me about a time when effective listening skills helped you in a problematic situation.
  • What do you do when you think someone is not listening to you?
  • Have you ever given a presentation to a group? How did you prepare for it? What would you do differently?
  • Describe a time when you were able to overcome a communication barrier(s).

Teamwork Questions

  • When groups work together, conflict often erupts. Tell me about a time that conflict occurred in one of your work groups and what you did about it.
  • Tell me what role you play within work groups and why.
  • How would people you work with describe you? Tell me about the most effective contribution you have made as part of a task group or special project team.
  • Tell me about a time you pitched in to help someone finish a project even though it “wasn't your job.” What was the result?
  • Have you ever been in a position where you had to lead a group of peers? How did you handle it? Tell me about problems you had and how you handled them.
  • What is essential for a team to be successful?
  • Tell me about a time you worked in a cross functional team? Were there different challenges compared to a departmental task team?
  • Have you ever worked in a virtual team? If so, tell me about this experience. What were the team dynamics? Was the team successful? What would you do differently? If not, what do you perceive to be the advantages and disadvantages of this type of team? How would you suggest creating team cohesiveness in a virtual setting?
  • Tell me about a situation where political power plays affected team dynamics. How did you or could the team have overcome or avoided this situation?

Learning Questions

  • Describe a time when you took a new job that required a much different set of skills.
  • Have you had an occasion when a prior strength actually turned out to be a weakness in another setting? How did you cope?
  • What are your major professional reading sources?
  • What sorts of things have you done to become better qualified for your career?
  • Careers grow and develop just like people do. Where do you see your career now? Why? What are you doing to sustain it?
  • What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned in the past year? Why?
  • Do you feel you are knowledgeable about current industry related legislation or trends? Why or why not?
  • What was the last work-related educational seminar or class you attended? Why did you attend this course? How have you transferred the knowledge gained in the course to your work? Have you learned more about your profession through coursework or through on the job experience? Explain. What is more important to your profession, experience or continued education?
  • What area of your last job was most challenging for you? Why was this specific part of the position difficult? Is this still challenging? Why or why not?
  • Tell me about the one person who has influenced you the most within your career? Were they a manager or mentor? What did you learn from them? Why do you think you learned so much from them?

Diversity Questions

  • Provide the mission statement with value on diversity. How has your experience and background prepared you to be effective in this environment with this diversity value/initiative?
  • What do you see as the most challenging aspect of a diverse working environment? What steps have you taken to meet this challenge?
  • What kinds of experiences have you had working with others with different backgrounds than your own?
  • Tell me about a time you had to alter your work style to meet a diversity need or challenge?
  • How have you handled a situation when a colleague was not accepting of others’ diversity?
  • What does it mean to have a commitment to diversity and how would you develop and apply your commitment at this company?
  • What was/is the diversity value at your current/former employer? What impact did you make on this value?
  • What efforts have you made, or been involved with, to foster diversity competence and understanding?
  • What have you done to further your knowledge about diversity? Have you included diversity in your professional development? How have you demonstrated what you have learned?
  • What kind of leadership efforts would you make to ensure a commitment to the diversity initiative or value?
  • What strategies have you used to address diversity challenges? What were the positives and negatives?

Interpersonal Skills

  • What would your last boss say about you?
  • Describe how you like to be managed and the best relationship you’ve had with a previous boss.
  • If I asked your previous/current co-workers about you what would they say?
  • Describe what you see as your strengths related to this job/position. Describe what you see as your weaknesses related to this job/position.
  • Explain the phrase “work ethic” and describe yours.
  • What kind of people do you find it most difficult to work with? For example, assume you are in a situation where you have to deal with a person very different from yourself and you are finding it difficult. What would you do?
  • What methods do you use to make decisions? When do you find it most difficult to make a decision?
  • Describe a difficult time you have had dealing with an employee, customer, or co-worker. Why was it difficult? How did you handle it? What was the outcome?
  • How would your co-workers describe your work style/habits?
  • What do you do when others resist or reject your ideas or actions?
  • What do you think are the best and worst parts of working in a team environment? How do you handle it?
  • Under what kinds of conditions do you learn best?
  • How would your past employers describe your response to hectic or stressful situations?
  • How would your co-workers describe your work style or work habits?
  • If I asked several of your co-workers about your greatest strength as a team member, what would they tell me?
  • To you, which is more desirable: A business that is run in an efficient business-like manner OR a business that is run in a personal and friendly way?