Types and samples of interview questions

Types of interview questions

Open-ended questions are basic to any effective interview because they ask candidates to relate information and ideas that they feel are important. Example: “Tell me about your supervisory experience.”

Accomplishment questions ask the candidate to identify important accomplishments and what skills were used to execute them. Example: “Tell me about your most recent important accomplishment in your job. What did you do and what was the outcome?”

Situational questions ask candidates how they handled or would handle job-related situations, to evaluate their ability to recognize important aspects of situations, analyze them, and provide reasonable options. Example: “Describe a situation where you had two assignments with conflicting priorities and how you handled it.”

Sample questions

In addition to specific questions related to the job skills necessary for the position, you may consider asking some variation of the following:


  • An experience where you turned a problem or difficult situation into a success
  • A time when you provided good service for a customer or your supervisor
  • A time you identified a problem and presented several solutions to your supervisor
  • A time you went beyond your supervisor’s expectations to get a job done
  • A work situation where things went wrong – how did you cope and get back on track?
  • A time you had to handle an emergency situation during the course of your daily tasks
  • A work situation where you demonstrated honesty and integrity
  • A work situation where your organizational skills were crucial
  • A time you took initiative
  • An assignment you handled creatively
  • A time you were able to overcome objections to something you wanted done, but others didn’t think necessary
  • The ideal person to work for
  • (for higher-level positions or those who will manage others) Your leadership style
  • (for higher-level positions or those who will manage others) How you handled a situation in which layoffs were necessary, or a termination was required

Additional sample questions:

  • What do you think you do best in your current (or last) position?
  • How have you contributed to successful implementation of a project or idea?
  • How do you handle a situation where a team member is not performing a task correctly or is unproductive or uncooperative?
  • How do you demonstrate reliability and dependability?
  • How would you describe your communication and interpersonal skills?
  • How would you describe your work habits?
  • How do you think your current supervisor would describe your strengths and limitations?
  • What is the greatest achievement of your career thus far? Your greatest frustration or disappointment?
  • What do you think would be most challenging in this position?
  • What interests you most about this position?
  • How does this position fit into your overall career goals?
  • Why do you want to work for USC?