University of Washington School of Public Health
Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
Types of Interview Questions
The key to a good interview is the ability to articulate your strengths. Your ability to articulate these strengths demonstrates your communication skills. Always remember that the interviewer is seeking to find out if you can be of value to the organization. The following are common types of interview questions.
These questions are based on the theory that past behaviors are a good indicator of future behaviors. Behavioral questions generally ask you about specific situations and what you did in that situation.
You can prepare for behavioral questions by thinking of scenarios that fit the different types of behavioral questions. If you don’t have a lot of work experience, recall situations from your academic career.
Use the STAR method to answer behavioral questions:
- S ituation — the context of what happened
- T ask — what you were supposed to do
- A ction — what you did to accomplish the task
- R esult — what you accomplished
Sample behavioral questions:
- Tell me about a time when you demonstrated leadership ability.
- What did you do in your last job to contribute toward a teamwork environment? Be specific.
- Describe a time when you had to resolve a conflict with a coworker.
- Describe a project that you led. What did you do to keep it on track?
- Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty to get the job done.
- Describe a time when you made a decision you knew would be unpopular.
- Describe a work-related situation in which you were faced with problems or stresses, which tested your coping skills. What did you do?
- Give and example of one of your weaknesses and where it hindered you in making a decision.
Traditional Interview Questions
These types of questions address your skills, knowledge, enthusiasm, and organizational fit. These questions may address your education, achievements, work experiences, strengths, weaknesses, career goals, and interest in the organization or position. Examples of these types of questions include:
- Tell me about yourself. How would you describe yourself?
- How do you handle yourself under pressure?
- Why are you qualified for this job?
- Why do you want to work for this organization? What do you know about us?
- What are your short- and long-range goals? Do you have plans for future education?
- How do you plan to achieve your career goals?
- Describe your style of supervising others.
- How would your last supervisor describe you?
- Have you ever been fired? Why?
- What did you enjoy most or least about your last job?
- What have you learned in your education that you could bring to this job?
- What do you expect from your supervisor?
Questions for You to Ask
Interviews are for potential employers to get to know you, but they are also an opportunity for you to find out if you would like to work for the organization. Prepare questions before your interview and bring them with you. Ask questions that demonstrate that you have done background research prior to the interview. You should generally avoid salary questions during a first interview. Some questions you might ask include:
- What results do you expect from a person in this position?
- What is the biggest challenge facing a person in this position?
- What do you consider the strengths and weaknesses of this organization?
- When will you be making a decision?
- When may I call you to follow-up?