University of California, Riverside

Human Resources



Interview Questions


General Interview Questions

In addition to position specific questions used to assess technical skills during an interview, general interview questions may be used to gather additional information. General interview questions can provide insight into the interviewee's past experience, work style, interpersonal and communication techniques and preferred work environment.

Sample General Interview Questions

Competency-based Interview Questions

The following list of questions have been developed for each UC Core Comptency category. It is recommended a careful review of the position requirements be conducted prior to selecting the questions to be used (see How to Employ UC Core Competency Model Into the Selection Process). Not each question for each category will be applicable as the interview question will depend on the on the competencies required for he position. 

Communication

  1. Describe a situation in which you had to work with a difficult customer or coworker. Explain how you dealt with the issue.
  2. Describe a situation that you had to lead a group on a given project. How did you approach the task? How did you approach the group? How did you divide the task among team members? And, how did you ensure each member is completing his/her assigned part properly.
  3. Give an example of a time that you were assigned a task, but were given inadequate information. How did you ensure the task is properly completed?
  4. Describe a situation where you had to interact with an authority figure and/or a subordinate. How did you approach them?
  5. Describe a situation that you had to explain a complex issue to a colleague or a client. How did you approach the situation?
  6. Describe a situation where you prepared a letter, memo, report, and/or a presentation. Who was your audience? How did the audience affect your communication style?
  7. Describe a situation where you had to work (alone or as part of a team) on an ambiguous project.
  8. Describe a situation where some of your customer/colleague/team members/boss disagreed with your idea. How did you deal with this situation?
  9. Describe a time when you were involved in a conflicting situation with a customer/colleague/coworker. Was the conflict resolved? If yes, how did you resolve the conflict?
  10. Describe a situation where you had to resolve a complaint. Was the issue resolved? How did you deal with the situation?
  11. Tell me about a recent successful experience giving an oral presentation. What made it successful? What did you do to ensure the presentation’s goals are attained?
  12. Describe how you go about developing relationships with your coworkers and supervisors.
  13. Describe a time when you had to use written or oral communication skills to communicate with others, but your audience did not seem to understand you. What did you do?

Diversity and Inclusion

  1. Describe a situation in which you had to work with people that had a different background than you. What challenges did you face? What steps did you take to meet these challenges? What did you learn from this experience?
  2. Tell me about a situation that a colleague or a co-worker was not accepting or was resistance to other’s diversity. How did you handle the situation?
  3. Explain a situation that you had to change your work style in order to work effectively with individuals different from you.
  4. What efforts have you made to foster diversity understanding?
  5. What strategies have you used to manage diversity? What were the pros and cons?
  6. What have you done to increase your knowledge about diversity? How have you demonstrated your learning?
  7. What actions have you taken to make someone feel comfortable in a group?
  8. Describe a situation in which you used your multicultural competency skills to resolve a communications issue or other misunderstanding between employees/co-workers.
  9. We take pride in the diversity of our campus community. How do you facilitate an environment of mutual respect?
  10. Describe a time when you had to adapt to a diverse group of people by understanding their perspective.

Employee Engagement

  1. In the last year, describe opportunities at work which provided you the ability to learn and grow? Explain what you learned or how it contributed to your growth. 
  2. Give me an example of a time you worked on a project as part of a group. What was your role? Was the project completed on a timely manner? 
  3. Tell me about a situation that you had to handle a heavy workload with many deadlines? Did you complete all the assignments? 
  4. Tell me about a situation when a group member did not or was not able to meet a deadline. How did you handle the situation? 
  5. Tell me about a time where you worked in a dysfunctional team. Why was it dysfunctional and how did you attempt to change things? 
  6. Think of a time when you had many demands placed on your time. How did you ensure that you were available to meet the needs of your customers, coworkers, supervisors, and subordinates? 
  7. Describe one service, activity, or process for which you have been held accountable. How did you make sure you achieved results for this process or activity? 
  8. Describe a time when you were unable to meet a deadline. What lead to this and how did you communicate the issue with other people affected by this delay? 
  9. Some assignments can be very hectic. Provide an example of how you managed to get the job done. What strategies did you use to ensure timely, quality results?
  10. Tell me about a situation that you worked on a complex or important task. What strategies did you use to assure the task is completed accurately?

Innovation and Change Management

  1.  Tell me about a time that you experienced some form of organizational change. How did you deal with the situation? 
  2. Tell me about a situation that you tried a new way to perform a task. Why did you choose a new way to perform the task? Was it successful? 
  3. Discuss a time that you had to face an issue that could have had an impact on the organization. How did you approach the problem? 
  4. Discuss the most difficult change you have had to make in your professional career. How did you manage the change? 
  5. Tell me about a time that you had to quickly adjust to an organizational change. What did you do? 
  6. Tell me about a time you suggested an innovative solution to an organizational problem. Was the solution utilized? If not, how did you respond? 
  7. Sometimes it is necessary to break out of the routine ways of doing things in order to complete a task. Please give an example of when you were able to successfully develop such a new approach. 
  8. Describe the most creative work-related project which you have carried out. 
  9. Describe a situation when you demonstrated initiative and took action without waiting for direction. What was the outcome? 
  10. Describe a challenge or opportunity you identified based on your industry knowledge, and how you developed a strategy to respond to it. 
  11. In what ways did you perform differently from your peers in your last job?

Job Mastery and Continuous Learning

  1. Describe how in the past two years you have demonstrated your dedication to continuous learning and self-improvement. 
  2. Describe a situation that shows your willingness to challenge and to expand your current skills and abilities. 
  3. Feedback is a significant step in personal learning and development. Describe an instance in which you proactively sought feedback and then used the feedback to improve. 
  4. Describe a situation that you learned from a success and/or a failure. 
  5. Describe a time in which you used previous job experience to solve a problem at work. 
  6. Give an example of a time in which you were able to apply your knowledge and skills beyond your core job responsibilities. 
  7. Give an example of a time in which you provided support to a colleague or a co-worker in order to enhance the work outcome quality. 
  8. Describe a situation in which a co-worker did not have the necessary skills to complete a task. What did you do? 
  9. Describe a time in which you did not have the necessary knowledge and/or skills to complete a task. What did you do?
  10. Give an example of a time in which you completed a task by going beyond the expected results.

Resource Management

  1. Give an example of a safety procedure that your job requires. Also, provide an example of a situation in which you followed this procedure. 
  2. Provide an example of an incident in which you could not perform a task due to safety issues. 
  3. Provide an example of a time that your decision had an impact on the organizations financial resources. How did you handle the situation? 
  4. Discuss a situation in which you used various organizational resources to complete a specific task. 
  5. Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a particular resource management issue regarding people, materials or assets. 
  6. Provide an example of a time that you taught other members of the organization how to use the organizational resources. 
  7. Give an example of a situation where an ethical issue was raised at work by one of your team members/employees. What did you do? 
  8. Describe a situation in which you took a creative approach to find/use appropriate resources in order to complete a task. 
  9. Give an example of a time that you had access to the organization’s financial resources. What did you do? 
  10. Tell me about a time when you made a recommendation that involved a lot of risk. 
  11. Describe the options you would consider to resource a project or goal if you did not have the available resources within your own span of control.

Results Orientation and Execution

  1. Describe something you have done to maximize or improve the use of resources beyond your own work unit to achieve improved results. 
  2. Describe a situation in which you were given two important assignments with the same deadline. What did you do? 
  3. Give an example of a time that you were given an important assignment. How did you approach it? 
  4. Describe a situation in which you were required to do a number of tasks at the same time. How did you approach it? What was the outcome? 
  5. Give an example of a time that you assessed the quality of your work outcome. Explain how. 
  6. Describe a situation in which your project plan was affected by other factors. How did you assure you achieved the desired outcome? 
  7. Tell me about a time when you set and achieved a goal. How did you ensure the quality of the outcome? 
  8. Tell me about a goal you set for yourself and steps you took to reach it. 
  9. Tell me about a time when obstacles made it difficult to achieve a work goal. 
  10. Can you describe a situation when you were unable to achieve a goal? What did you do?

Service Focus

  1. How do you define going the extra mile for your customer, give me an example of when you have done this. 
  2. In what ways do you interact differently with customers compared to the ways your co-workers interact with customers? Can you give an example? 
  3. Describe a situation that you provided a service to a customer. How did you know if your customer was satisfied? 
  4. Tell me about a time that you had to respond to a customer question with an answer they would not like to hear. What did you do? 
  5. Tell me about a time you did not know the answer to a question a customer had asked you. What did you do? 
  6. Give an example of a time that you were required to adjust goals in order to respond to changing client demands. 
  7. Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a client/stakeholder service issue. 
  8. Describe a time that you provided an innovative solution to a customer demand/issue. 
  9. Describe a time that you went above and beyond your scope of job responsibilities to understand the organization and client need. 
  10. Describe a time when you gave outstanding customer service. What made it stand out? 
  11. Describe a situation where you improved the level of customer service in your organization. How did you improve it? 
  12. Give an example of a client that you work with repeatedly. How do you maintain the relationship?

Teamwork and Collaboration

  1. Describe a situation where the team was having trouble agreeing on a decision and what you did to facilitate consensus. 
  2. Give an example of a successful project you were part of. What was your role? Why was the project successful? 
  3. Describe a situation that you demonstrated flexibility to resolve team challenges. 
  4. Describe a situation where some team members disagreed with your way of working? What did you do? 
  5. Give an example of a situation where a colleague was not completing their share of the work. What did you do? 
  6. Tell me about a time in which you worked as part of a team, and a conflict arose within the team. What did you do? 
  7. Describe a time when you thought you should have led a team because of your knowledge and expertise, but someone else was selected. How did you feel and what did you do? 
  8. We have all been in meetings where no one volunteers to talk or take action. Tell me about a time this happened to you. What did you do? 
  9. Describe the types of teams you have been involved with. What were your roles? 
  10. Tell me about the things you have done in your current role to improve the team environment?

For Managers: People Management

  1. Tell me about a time you rewarded an employee for his/her performance. 
  2. Tell me about a time that you did not have sufficient resources to reward an employee for his/her outstanding performance through monetary incentives. What did you do? 
  3. Give me an example of a time that you used a specific employee selection strategy. What was the outcome? 
  4. Tell me about a time you were selected as the team leader. What strategies did you use to ensure optimal performance? 
  5. Give me an example of a time that you provided coaching to an employee. How did the employee benefit from it? 
  6. Tell me about a time a staff member was reluctant to accept a delegate task. What did you do? 
  7. When recruiting staff to work for you what do you look for? What steps do you take? 
  8. It can be easy to forget to provide outstanding achievers with ongoing developmental feedback. Tell me about your best performer. How often did you discuss their performance and provide them with feedback. How did this compare with the way you coached your other team members? 
  9. Tell me about a time when your coaching helped someone improve their skills or job performance. 
  10. Tell me about a time you had to increase motivation in those you supervised? 
  11. Tell me about a time you were part of a diverse work group. What did you do to facilitate effective work relationship among members? Did you succeed? 
  12. Have you ever managed a staff member with a performance difficulty / deficiency? What did you do? What was the outcome? 
  13. Who is your best employee? What are you doing to retain him/her?
  14. Tell me about your most recent high-level hire. How did you go about searching for the person? 
  15. Describe a time when you helped an employee/co-worker accept change and make the necessary adjustments to move forward. 
  16. How do you ensure your work group reaches optimum results?

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Human Resources
1201 University Ave., Suite 208
Riverside, CA 92507

Tel: (951) 827-5588
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