Sunday, 10 June 2012

Interview Questions


More employers are using behavioral interviewing in the hiring process. This type of interview is based on the idea that the best way to predict your future performance is to examine your past and present performance in a similar situation. It focuses on experiences, behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities that are job related.

With the Behavioral interview Employers predetermine which skills are necessary for the job for which they are looking and then ask very pointed questions to determine if the candidate possesses those skills. Currently, 30 percent of all organizations are using behavioral interviewing to some degree. Prepare for Behavioral Interviews by researching what job competencies an employer might seek.
Why should you prepare for behavioral interview?

Candidates who prepare for behavioral interviews are better prepared – even for traditional interviews.
Using behavioral answers works well with inexperienced interviewers. Companies that invest the time and energy in developing behavioral interviews often attract top candidates. Top candidates make the company a more desirable place to work.

Before the interview:

One way to prepare for the interview is to first consider the job description. What skills are listed as qualifications for the job? For example, does the organization say they need team players? someone with a strong attention to detail? keen problem solvers? or someone with superior customer service? Once you have a greater understanding of the kinds of skills they are seeking, you can begin to reflect upon experiences in which you demonstrated these skills. If you don’t have a job description, think about the skills that might be necessary for the job or speak to an advisor in career services.

When answering the question:

First, internally note what competency or skill the employer may be seeking (hint: it may be more than one) and then always make sure you:
Describe a specific, recent situation (if you can, try to keep it within two years)
Detail your behavior or the actions you took to resolve the situation. (Be sure that your role is clear and significant)
Share the outcome or the results of the situation.

Feel free to draw upon your experiences within an on-campus organization or sports team, volunteer work, prior internships, classroom experience or coursework.

Some examples of Job Competencies are below:

Personal Effectiveness

AnalysisFact Finding-OralPersuasion
Analytical Problem SolvingFinancial Analytical AbilityParticipative Management
Attention to DetailFuturistic ThinkingPresentation Skills
Continuous LearningInitiativeRisk Taking
Communication-OralGoal OrientationProcess Operation
Communication-WrittenImpactRapport Building
Conflict ManagementIndependenceResilience
AssertivenessFlexibilityPractical Learning
ControlInnovationSafety Awareness
Customer ServiceInterpersonal SkillsSensitivity
Entrepreneurial InsightPlanning and OrganizingWritten Communication
DiplomacyListeningProfessional Knowledge
EmpathyManagementTechnical Proficiency
Employee DevelopmentMotivationTenacity
Decision MakingJudgmentStrategic Analysis

During a behavioral interview, always listen carefully to the question, ask for clarification if necessary, and make sure you answer the question completely. Your interview preparation should include identifying examples of situations from your experiences on your resume where you have demonstrated the behaviors a given company seeks.

When answering behavioral questions use the STAR Method and convey specific situations, actions, and outcomes/results.

Situation Use specific details about a situation or task.
Task Tell what led to the situation or task?
Action Taken Discuss what you did and who was involved?
Result or outcome Communicate the outcome?

Before the interview process, identify two or three of your top selling points and determine how you will convey these points (with demonstrated STAR stories) during the interview.

Whenever you can, quantify your results. Numbers illustrate your level of authority and responsibility. For example: “I was a shift supervisor.” could be “As Shift Supervisor, I trained and evaluated 4 employees.”

Be prepared to provide examples of when results didn’t turn out as you planned. What did you do then? What did you learn? Your resume will serve as a good guide when answering these questions. Refresh your memory regarding your achievements in the past couple of years. Demonstration of the desired behaviors may be proven in many ways. Use examples from past internships, classes, activities, team involvements, community service and work experience.


Behavioral questions can be difficult if you are not prepared. Always try to be conscious about what the recruiter is trying to find out about you by asking you a particular question. Setting up a mock interview with the MIT Careers Office is an excellent way to practice. Here are some examples:

Tell me about a time when you had to adjust to a classmate’s or colleague’s working style in order to complete a project or achieve your objectives.

Analytical Skills/Problem Solving
Tell me about a situation where you had to solve a difficult problem. What did you do? What was your thought process? What was the outcome? What do you wish you had done differently?

What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example.
Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully communicate with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa). How did you handle the situation? What obstacles or difficulties did you face? How did you deal with them?

Tell me about a time when you had to use your presentation skills to influence someone’s opinion.
Tell me about a problem that you’ve solved in a unique or unusual way. What was the outcome? Were you happy or satisfied with it?

Decision Making:
Tell me about a difficult decision you’ve made in the last year.
Describe a situation where you have had to overcome a problem or obstacle in order to move forward with something. What did you do?
Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision without all the information you needed. How did you handle it? Why? Were you happy with the outcome?

Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
Describe a time when you put your needs aside to help a co-worker understand a task. How did you assist them? What was the result?

Goal Setting:
Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement so far and why?
Tell me about a goal that you set that you did not reach. What steps did you take? What obstacles did you encounter? How did it make you feel?

Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems and developed preventive measures.
What tricks or techniques have you learned to make school or a job easier, or to make yourself more effective? How did you learn that?
Describe a situation where you have had to use your initiative to solve a problem. What did you do?
What was the best idea you came up with during your professional or college career? How did you apply it?
Give me an example of a time when something you tried to accomplish and failed.
Give me an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead.

Tell me about a time when you missed an obvious solution to a problem.
Tell me about a time when you were forced to make an unpopular decision.
Tell me about a time you had to fire a friend.
Describe a time when you set your sights too high (or too low).
Tell of the most difficult customer service experience that you have ever had to handle-perhaps an angry or irate customer. Be specific and tell what you did and what the outcome was.
Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
Give a specific example of a policy you conformed to with which you did not agree. Why?

Give me an example of a time when you motivated others.
Tell me about a time when you delegated a project effectively.
What has been your experience in giving presentations to small or large groups? What has been your most successful experience in speech making?
Tell me about a team project when you had to take the lead or take charge of the project? What did you do? How did you do it? What was the result?

Interpersonal Skills:
Give me an example of a time when you used your fact-finding skills to solve a problem.
Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
Give an example of when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with. How/why was this person difficult? How did you handle it? How did the relationship progress?

Planning and Organization/Time Management:
How do you determine priorities in scheduling your time? Give examples.
Describe a time in school when you had many projects or assignments due at the same time. What steps did you take to get them all done?
Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.
How do you prioritize projects and tasks when scheduling your time? Give me some examples.

Tell me about a time you were able to successfully deal with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa).
Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker.
Describe a situation where you have had to work as part of a team to achieve a result. What was your role in this?
Describe a situation where others you were working with on a project disagreed with your ideas. What did you do?



If you are interviewing with a consulting company you have a high probability of running into a Critical Thinking or Case Interview Question. These might sound ridiculous but they are gaining clout with big business. This type of interview requires much more of a two way communication between the candidate and the interviewer.

They are not necessarily looking for the “right” answer but rather they want to see common sense, creativity and problem solving skills.

How many jellybeans will fit in a 747?

Possible answer:
Does the plane have seats in it? As that would affect how many I could fit in. Also when do I need this information and what will we use it for? What size jellybean? Can I grind them up or melt them to get more in? Do we want to get more in? Does it have to take off and land? Can I fill up the fuel tanks? Etc…

Why is a man-hole cover round?

Possible Answer:
Because it is covering a round hole and that is the most effective use of materials. Also because a round cover cannot fall into the round hole it is covering.

Or they might ask you about a current case they are working on. You want to use the same problem solving skills as you would in a Hypothetical Interview: Steps to problem solving:

1. Gather relative information
2. Evaluate your information
3. Prioritize the information
4. Propose and weigh possible solutions
5. Choose and propose your solution
6. Discuss how you would evaluate the effectiveness of your solution



Can you do the job?

Do you have the knowledge sets, skill sets and personal attributes to allow you to do the job?

Types of questions could include:

What parts of your education do you see as relevant to this position?
What prompted you to study…..?
Tell me about a time when you had to communicate information to a group of people.
Tell me about a significant achievement in your life.
Tell me about a time where you had to work towards a deadline. Did you meet it? If not, what would you do differently next time?

Do you want the job?

Do you want to work in this position/organisation? Are you willing to learn? Are you ambitious and keen to succeed?

Types of questions could include:

Why do you want to work for us?
What do you know about our company/practice/business?
What are your short term/long term goals?
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Describe a time where you set yourself a challenging goal? What happened? What would you do differently?

Will you fit in?

The interviewer wants to determine if you will be a good team player, someone who will be absorbed into the organisation without disruption to the existing team dynamics.

Types of questions could include:

Describe a time where you had to work with a group of people to achieve a common goal?
Can you give me an example of working as part of a team. What was your contribution to the team and what was the outcome of this exercise?
What would you do if…………………?

Best fit between applicant and job?

What makes you the best applicant for this position? Why should the employer take you over other applicants?

Types of questions could include:

Why do you think you are the best person for the job?
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Can you give me five words that best describe you?
What skills and qualities can you bring to this position?

Is there anything you would like to add?

This is an opportunity to bring particular skills or qualities to the attention of the interviewer. Have you stated your major selling points?
Were you unhappy about a particular answer during the interview? This is an opportunity to address that.
Why are you the best person for the job? Tell the interviewer!

Is there anything you would like to ask us?

This is your opportunity to find out more about the job, the company, and the industry.
You could ask questions like:
What are the career prospects within your company?
What staff training and development opportunities are available?
Who would I be reporting to?
Where would I be located?
Avoid asking too many questions about salary and conditions of employment such as holidays but know what salary range you are prepared to accept


What background do you have that would be helpful in consulting?
Why consulting?
How do you think the consulting industry is structured?
What are some differences among the consulting firms that are important to you?
What were the sales of your last employer? What was its profitability?
Are you a generalist or specialist? Where do you see yourself specializing?
Are you competitive?
How are you going to make your decision if you get more than one offer?

Health Care

Why are you interested in the health care industry?
Why are you pursuing an MBA vs. Master in Health Administration?
What strengths do you have for the health care industry?
Prioritize the most important issues facing health care management.
Provide your recommendations to address these issues.
What is the current administration’s goal towards health care?
Why have some HMOs been successful and others have not? Elaborate.

Investment Banking

What would you do if you weren’t going into investment banking?
What was your quantitative GMAT score?
Some technical finance/accounting questions:
- How do you value a firm?
- What is an interest rate swap?
- What is DCF? How do you calculate the discount rate?
- How do you determine if a stock is undervalued?
- How would you price the stock for an IPO?
- What is the yield on a zero coupon bond trading at par with 10 years to maturity?
- What is working capital? Quick ratio? Free cash flow?
Tell me what you know about [the firm].
Tell me about the cultures of the different firms.
How are you going to make your decision if you get more than one offer?
What do you want to do and why- M&A, capital markets, or corporate finance?
The bond market is going down; what is the stock market going to do?
Where is the industry going? What is the market doing?
What are the headlines in today’s Wall Street Journal?
What do you read regularly on the industry?
Why choose investment banking? Why pick this bank?
Tell me what an investment banker does.
Tell me the difference between commercial and investment banks.
Why pick corporate finance as opposed to sales and trading?
What are your outside activities? Why would you be willing to give them up for such a demanding job?
What role do you play in group situations?
What would you do if offered drugs as part of the deal? (or other ethically-oriented questions)
Sell us on your quantitative skills.
How smart are you? How do we know how smart you are?
If we made you an offer today, would you take it?
What did the Dow, S&P, or NASDAQ close at yesterday?
What stocks do you follow and why? (Be prepared to discuss the stock’s performance.)


Give me the attributes of a good brand manager.
Now take me through your background and demonstrate how you have each attribute.
Rate Yale’s marketing program.
How would you sell more [Tide]?
Talk about an ad—what makes it effective? interesting? etc.
What are some examples of bad advertising? Why?
How do you sell your ideas?
What are you looking for in a consumer products company?
What do you think are the most important traits in a marketing person?
Describe your leadership style.
Provide an example of your problem solving approach.

Sales and Trading

What other firms have you talked to?
What makes you think you can sell?
Would you like to do sales or trading? Why?
Tell me what you think a trader (salesperson) does.
Why choose selling debt vs. selling equity?
Why didn’t you choose corporate finance?
What do you think having an MBA does for you in this field?
What particular markets or instruments are you interested in? Why?
Will your personality make you a good trader? Why?
How will you motivate yourself to make the calls you hate to make?
What are your grades? (Yes, they know about the Yale SOM grading process.)

Strategic Planning and Corporate Finance

What do you hope to gain by working for our firm?
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
How do you see your career progressing in our firm?
What do you know about our industry?
How would you describe our competitive position?
Our ____ division is thinking of introducing a (such and such) new product. How would you go about determining if this is a good idea?
We are having trouble managing our ____ division. What do you think are the key performance metrics? How would you improve them?
How would you value our _____ for a potential sale, spin-off, or liquidation?
How does M&A activity in banking affect our industry?

Venture Capital

What is venture capital?
What strengths do you have for venture capital?
Tell me when you have worked with all management levels–from CEO to analyst.
Describe your analytical and interpersonal skills.
What operations exposure have you had?
What managerial exposure have you had?
What do you look for in a venture?
Do you think more effort should be put into human capital or raising funds and investing them

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