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Competency Based Interview Questions

Job Performance/Career Goals:

  • Could you share with us a recent accomplishment of which you are most proud?
  • How much supervision have you typically received in your previous job?
  • Describe one or two of the biggest disappointments in your work history?
  • Why are you leaving your present job? (Or, why did you leave your last job?)
  • What is important to you in a company?  What things do you look for in an organization?
  • What was your primary contribution/achievement?  Biggest challenge?
  • What are your short-term and long-term goals?
  • In what areas would you like to develop further?
  • What are your career path interests?
  • What would you most like to accomplish if you had this job?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • If you are the successful applicant, how would you expect to be different after a year in the position?
  • Can you give us an example of your ability to manage or supervise others?
  • What are some of the things you would like to avoid in a job?  Why?
  • In your previous job, what kind of pressures did you encounter?
  • What would you say is the most important thing you are looking for in a job?
  •  Everyone has strengths and weaknesses as workers.  What are your strong points for this job?
  • What would you say are areas need improvement?
  • What were some of the things about your last job that you found most difficult to do?
  • What are some of the things you particularly liked about your last job?


  • What special aspects of your education or training have prepared you for this job?
  • What courses in school have been of most help in doing your job?


  • Tell us about your management style – people, teamwork, direction?
  • Describe an ideal supervisor.
  • What is your own philosophy of management?
  • Have you participated in planning processes?
  • What was the most challenging personnel issue you’ve had to deal with and how did you handle it?
  • A new policy is to be implemented organization-wide.  You do not agree with this new policy.  How would you discuss this policy with your staff?
  • Describe a decision you made which would normally have been made by your supervisor?  What was the outcome?
  • Discuss and differentiate between remediation, corrective action, and discipline.
  • Explain, step by step, how you have handled an employee who had performance problems.
  • Why should employees seek to improve their knowledge and skill base?  How would you motivate them?
  • What coaching and mentoring experience have you had?  How did you determine the appropriate way to coach/mentor and what were the results?
  • Management requires both good writing and verbal skills for good communication.  When it comes to giving information to employees that can be done either way, do you prefer to write a memo OR talk to the employee?
  • What is the largest number of employees you have supervised and what were their job functions?
  • Would you please describe your interest in becoming (title of position)?
  • Tell us about your current position or most recent position and how you helped the organization accomplish its goals and mission.
  • Tell us about your fiscal management experience:  budgeting, reporting, cutting costs, building and maintaining reserves.
  • Have you ever had to champion an unpopular change?  How did you handle it?
  • Give us some example of how and when you were the spokesperson for your current or most recent company.
  • Tell us about your experiences with staff development.  How do you think your current or most recent staff would describe you?
  • How do you get people who do not want to work together to establish a common approach to a problem?  If you do not have much time and they hold seriously differing views, what would be your approach?
  • How do you stay informed of current ideas on management and the industry field for the organization?
  • What would you think are the most important characteristics & abilities a person must possess to become a successful leader? How would you rate yourself in these areas?

Customer Service:

  • Tell us about a time when you went out of your way to give great service to a customer.
  • Describe a process or system that you improved so customers would be better served.
  • Tell us about a time when you asked for feedback on your customer service skills from your manager or co-worker, and then used that response to improve your work.
  • Tell us about a time when you had trouble working with a difficult or demanding customer.  How did you handle this?


  • If someone told you that you made an error, describe how you would react and what you say in your defense.
  • You are a committee member and disagree with a point or decision.  How would you respond?
  • Tell us about a time when you were part of a great team.  What was your part in making the team effective?
  • Give us an example of a time when you had to deal with a difficult co-worker.  How did you handle the situation?
  • Can you tell us about a time during your previous employment when you suggested a better way to perform a process?
  • Give us an example of a time when you were trying to meet a deadline, you were interrupted, and did not make the deadline.  How did you respond?
  • What strengths did you rely on in your last position to make you successful in your work?
  • What motivates you?
  • What kinds of things do you feel most confident in doing?
  • Can you describe for us a difficult obstacle you have had to overcome?  How did you handle it?  How do you feel this experience affected your personality or ability?
  • What gives you the greatest satisfaction at work?
  • What things frustrate you the most?  How do you usually cope with them?


  • Explain the phrase “work ethic” and describe yours.
  • What kind of people do you find it most difficult to work with?
  • What methods do you use to make decisions?  When do you find it most difficult to make a decision?
  • How would your co-workers describe your work style?
  • 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?
  • Do you prefer working in groups or alone?
  • Some people get to know strangers quickly; while others prefer to take their time letting people get to know them.  Describe how you entered relationships when you were “new” on a job.

Creative Thinking:

  • What was the most creative thing you did in your last job?
  • What is your interpretation of “success”?
  • Can you think of a problem you have encountered when the old solutions didn’t work and when you came up with new solution(s)?
  • Of your creative accomplishments big or small, what gave you the most satisfaction?
  • What kind of problems have people recently called on you to resolve?  Tell us what you have devised.
  • The person in this job needs to be innovative and proactive.  Can you describe some things you have done to demonstrate these qualities?


  • What was your most difficult decision in the last six months?  What made it difficult?
  • The last time you did not know what decision to make, what did you do?
  • What kinds of decisions do you make without consulting your immediate supervisor?

Work Standards:

  • What are your standards of success in your job?
  • When judging the performance of your employees, what factors or characteristics are most important to you?


  • What was the most important idea or suggestion you recently received from your employees?  What happened as a result?
  • What do you think about continuous changes in company operating policies and procedures?
  • What was the most significant change made in your company in the last six months which directly affected you, & how successfully do you think you implemented this change?