Guide to Interview Questions

This post is a support tool for client employers and is designed to help you construct a positive, targeted and consistent set of interview questions for Engineering, Manufacturing, Service and Technical applicants.

When developing interview questions, consider three rules of thumb:  ask only for information that will serve as a basis for the hiring decision, know how the information will be used to make the decision, and do not ask for information that will not or should not be used to make hiring decisions.

Develop questions based on each major task and responsibility in the position description and on knowledge, skills, and abilities required by the position.  Include problem-solving questions that allow the applicant to think creatively.  Also include questions that elicit more than a “yes” or “no” response.

The following Interview Questionnaire Guide has been developed to provide hiring managers a resource from which to select questions that will help identify the candidate who will be most successful in a position. You won’t ask all questions on this list.

Because research has shown that past behavior is predictive of future behavior, the questions are behavioral based.  They will prevent a manager from missing important information, overlooking job motivation and organisational fit, and asking illegal, non-job-related questions.  The same set of questions should be used to interview all candidates.

Sample questions are under the following headings:




Application / CV

The following questions are designed to confirm the information on the candidate’s C.V


Educational Background

  1. What is the highest level of education you have received?
  2. Confirm the educational establishment where the Candidate obtained this qualification and when.
  3. List any other education or training relevant to the position.


Employment Background

  1. Who is your present or most recent employer?
  2. What are/were your major responsibilities at (present/most recent job)?
  3. Discuss/determine skills and level of expertise related to current/ most recent role.
  4. Which skills have you acquired in your present or previous positions that make you competitive for this position?
  5. What do/did you like best about that position? What do/did you like least?
  6. Which accomplishments in your present position are you proud of and why?
  7. Why are you planning to/did you leave that position?



Following is a list of sample questions designed to gather information about an individual’s ability to identify tasks that need to be done without specifically being told to do them.

  1. Have you found any ways to make your job easier or more rewarding?
  2. What do you do differently from other people in the same position?
  3. Have you ever recognised a problem before your boss or others in the organisation? How did you handle it?
  4. What do you do in your job that is not covered in your job description?
  5. In your past experience, have you noticed any process or task that was being done unsafely (incorrectly)? How did you discover it or come to notice it?
  6. Give me some examples of doing more than required in your job?
  7. Can you think of some projects or ideas (not necessarily your own) that were carried out successfully primarily because of your efforts?
  8. What new ideas or suggestions have you come up with at work?
  9. This job requires much time working alone. Tell me about a job or project where you worked unsupervised and were given only general guidelines for job/project completion.
  10. What career accomplishments are you most proud of?



Following is a list of questions designed to provide information relating to an individual’s stability of performance under pressure. They are designed to give the interviewer an idea of how the applicant has reacted to past stressful situations.

  1. What pressures do you feel in your job? How do you deal with them?
  2. Describe the highest pressure situations you have been under recently. How did you cope with them?
  3. Tell me how you maintain constant performance while under time and work load pressures.
  4. Describe the last time a person at work (customer, colleague, boss) became irritated or lost his/her temper. What did they do?  How did you respond?  What was the outcome?
  5. In your career, what has been your greatest disappointment?
  6. Give me an example of when your ideas were strongly opposed by a colleague or supervisor. What was the situation?  What was your reaction?  What was the result?



Following is a list of questions designed to gather information relating to an individual’s ability to schedule work and handle multiple tasks.

  1. How do you organise your day?
  2. How often is your time schedule upset by unforeseen circumstances? What do you do when that happens?  Tell me about a specific time.
  3. Describe a typical day … a typical week. (Interviewer, listen for planning)
  4. How do you establish priorities in scheduling your time? Give examples.
  5. What is your procedure for keeping track of items requiring your attention?
  6. What did you do to get ready for this interview?
  7. We have all had times when we just could not get everything done on time. Tell me about a time that this happened to you.  What did you do?
  8. Tell me how you establish a course of action to accomplish specific long-and-short term goals.
  9. Do you postpone things? What are good reasons to postpone things?



Following is a list of questions designed to gather information relating to an individual’s past work experience, duties, and working conditions which are similar to those of the position for which the individual is being considered.

  1. What training have you received in ____________________?
  2. Describe how the process can best be performed. Have you discovered any shortcuts?  How do they work?
  3. Describe your experience with the following tools and equipment. (Interviewer, list job related tool).
  4. Walk me through the procedures you would follow to_______________.
  5. What equipment have you been trained to operate? When/where did you receive that training?
  6. What equipment did you operate in your job at ___________________?
  7. Describe your experience performing the following tasks. (Interviewer, list job related tasks).
  8. What job experiences have you had that would help you in this position?
  9. How do you follow the prescribed standards of safety when performing (task)  _________________?
  10. Have you ever identified potential malfunctions of equipment? How did you discover the potential malfunction?  What did you do to correct the problem?
  11. On a scale of one to ten, ten being you are a perfect technical match or this position, where would you rank yourself?
  12. What would you add to or subtract from your technical background to make you more qualified for this position?



Following is a list of questions designed to gather information relating to a person’s ability to work and get along with others.

  1. We’ve all had to work with someone who is very difficult to get along with. Give me an example of when this happened to you.  Why was that person difficult?  How did you handle that person?
  2. When dealing with individuals or groups, how do you determine when you are pushing too hard? How do you determine when you should back off?  Give an example.
  3. From time to time, all of us are confronted by someone who wastes our time at work. Tell me about some situations like that. What did you do?
  4. How do you go about developing rapport (relationships) with individuals at work?
  5. Give me some examples of when one of your ideas was opposed in a discussion. How did you react?
  6. Describe a situation when you found yourself dealing with someone very sensitive. What happened?
  7. Describe some situations when you wished you had acted differently with someone at work.
  8. Tell me, specifically, what you have done to show you are a team player at ______________.
  9. We all have ways of showing consideration for others. What are some things you’ve done to show concern or consideration for a co-worker?



 Following is a list of sample questions designed to gather information relating to an individual’s communication skills.  This section also includes observations to be made during the interview.

Interviewer’s Observations

  1. Consider if the applicant is able to express himself/herself effectively and in a well-organized manner.
  2. Observe whether the applicant has good eye contact.
  3. Consider whether the applicant’s grammar, sentence structure, etc. are appropriate to the requirements of the position.

These questions should be customised to fit your position.  Normally, only two or

three questions would be used:

  1. We’ve all had occasions when we misinterpreted something that someone told us (like a due date, complicated instructions, etc.) Give me a specific example of when this happened to you.  What was the situation?  Why was there a misinterpretation?  What was the outcome?
  2. What kind of reports/proposals have you written? Can you give me some examples?
  3. What reports or presentations that you have prepared are the most challenging and why?
  4. What different approaches do you use in talking with different people? How do you know you are getting your point across?
  5. What is the worst communication problem you have experienced? How did you handle it?



Following is a list of questions designed to gather information relating to an individual’s utilisation of appropriate interpersonal styles and methods in guiding individuals or a group toward task accomplishment.

  1. Tell me about a time you had to take a firm stand with a colleague. What was the situation?  What was difficult about their behaviour?  What was the firm stand you had to take?
  2. Describe how you instruct someone to do something new. What were you training them to do?  Walk me through how you did it.
  3. Tell me about a time you had to win approval from your colleagues or manager for a new idea or plan of action.
  4. Describe any supervisory or leadership training, schooling, or work experience you have had and its relevance to this position.
  5. Give a specific example of something you have done that demonstrates you are a team player.
  6. What leadership skills and experience do you have that would qualify you as an effective leader? Be specific.



Following is a list of questions designed to help identify an applicant’s motivation to do the type of work the position requires. The intent is not to see if they had good motivation/satisfaction in their previous jobs, but to see if the types of things they enjoy doing will be available in this position.  For example, if a person said he enjoyed his last job because he liked to work outside and with people doing different things all of the time, a desk job in accounting would probably not provide high satisfaction.


  1. What do you like best (least) about your job as a _______________________ ?
  2. What were/are your reasons for leaving _________________________________?
  3. Give me some examples of experience in your job at ________________that were satisfying? Dissatisfying?  Why?
  4. What gave you the greatest feeling of achievement in your job at ______________? Why?
  5. Give me an example of when you worked the hardest and felt the greatest sense of achievement.
  6. All jobs have their frustrations and problems. Describe specific job conditions, tasks, or assignments that have been dissatisfying to you.  Why?
  7. What are some recent responsibilities you have taken on? Why did you assume these responsibilities?
  8. Tell me about the most boring job or task you have had. Why was it boring?  What did you do about it?  How did you handle the boredom?
  9. Why did you originally choose this (career, type of work)?