Preparing to Interview

Securing an interview is a key step in obtaining a job. Learning how to prepare for a successful job interview is an essential skill to master in your career journey.

The job interview is important for two main reasons: It shows the employer what you can do for the organization, and it gives you an opportunity to determine whether the job is a good fit for you and your career goals.

Before going on an interview, do your research. Learn the company’s mission, products, and competitors. Be prepared to answer the question, “What do you know about us?” Educating yourself about the organization can give you an edge over your competition. Click here for tips on researching before your interview.

Your research will also empower you to ask intelligent questions during the interview. Below is a list of potential interview questions that employers may ask. It may be helpful to practice answering these questions, particularly the basics, prior to your interview.

Interview Questions You May Be Asked

Tell me about yourself.

What are your strengths?

What are your weaknesses?

Why do you want this job?

What's your ideal company?

What attracted you to this company?

Why should we hire you?

Why did you leave your last position?

What can you do for us that other candidates can't?

What do you know about this industry?

What do you know about our organization?

What salary are you seeking?

Do you have any questions for me?

What was the last project you headed up, and what was its outcome? 

Give me an example of a time that you felt you went above and beyond the call of duty at work. 

Can you describe a time when your work was criticized? 

When you’ve been on a team where someone was not pulling their own weight, how did you handle it? 

What is your greatest failure, and what did you learn from it? 

Give me an example of a time you did something wrong. How did you handle it? 

Tell me about a time where you had to deal with conflict on the job. 

Describe how you would handle a situation if you were required to finish multiple tasks by the end of the day, and there was no conceivable way that you could finish. 

How would you describe your work style? 

What would be your ideal working environment? 

What do you look for in terms of organizational culture? 

What techniques and tools do you use to keep yourself organized?   

Are you more of a big-picture person or a detail-oriented person?  

Who was your favorite manager and why?  

What are three positive things your last boss would say about you?  

What negative thing would your last boss say about you? 

Who has impacted you most in your career and how? 

What are the qualities of a good leader? A bad leader?  

What do you think of your previous boss? (Hint: don’t EVER talk badly about your former boss/job)

Why did you attend Aurora University?

How did you choose your major?  

What's the most important thing you learned in school? 

How do you want to improve yourself in the next year?

Where do you see yourself in five years? 

What three character traits would your friends use to describe you? 

What's the last book you read/movie you saw/website you visited?  

What would you do if you won the lottery? 

What do you like to do for fun? 

List five words that describe your character.   

What do you do in your spare time? 

What is your greatest achievement outside of work?

How much do you know about ______________ (a skill listed on your resume)?

¿Cómo describiría usted sus habilidades españolas? (For example, if you’ve listed Spanish as a skill)

Sell me this pencil (to someone who has sales experience).

Tell me about this leadership experience – what did you do?

How many times do a clock's hands overlap in a day?

How would you weigh an elephant without scales?

Tell me 10 ways to use a pencil other than writing.

If you were an [animal/ice cream flavor/cookie]; which one would you want to be?

If you could choose one superhero power, what would it be and why? 

With your eyes closed, tell me step-by-step how to tie my shoes.

At the end of your interview, you will likely be asked, “What questions do YOU have?” Be sure to have two to five questions prepared to ask the employer. The questions you ask are as important as those you answer—they will set you apart from other candidates and help sell yourself as a qualified candidate. Below is a list of questions that you can consider asking the employer.

Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

What are a few things that really drive results for the company?

Where do you see the company in ten years?

Has the recent merger had an impact on customer service?

How would you describe the corporate culture?

What are some of the skills and abilities necessary to succeed in this job?

What strengths do you feel I might bring to the position?  What gaps do you see in my experience?

What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 to 90 days?

How do you measure and determine success for this position?

Why did you decide to join this company?

What do you like most about working here?

What is the most challenging thing about working here?

What do you consider your company’s strengths and weaknesses?

You should always have a few “easy” questions in your back pocket, if you find your inquisitive nature going dry at the end of an interview. It’s nice to have personal questions that you can ask anyone in any department or at any level, and it’s OK to ask different interviewers the same personal questions.

You should always leave the interview knowing the company’s timeline or intentions:

What are the next steps?

What is your timeline?

When can I expect to hear from you regarding next steps?

You never want to ask obvious questions that you can find out from the job description or the website, such as “Who are your clients?” or “Where are your offices located?”

Do not ask about salary or benefits during the interview. You wait to ask those questions once you have received the job offer.

It's normal to be nervous before an interview. Career Services can help ease your nerves by helping you prepare and practice interviewing with a mock interview. Mock interviews provide you with a chance to practice answering questions, develop interview strategies, improve your communication skills, and reduce your stress. To learn more or to schedule a mock interview, call 630-844-5403 or email