Interview Questions DatabaseRecruiting Resources for Search Committees
This page is dedicated to providing resources for developing interview questions and best practices on the interview process.
General (for any position)
- Why did you decide to apply for this position? What appeals most to you about it? Least?
- What aspects about this position would cause you to consider leaving your current position?
- What three characteristics best describe you?
- What traits do you value most in others?
- What are your short-term and long-term career goals?
- What type of work environment and pace of work do you prefer?
- What aspects of your current position do you enjoy the most?
- What professional accomplishment has given you the most satisfaction?
- Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond to get a job done.
- Tell me about two memorable projects, one success and one failure. To what do you attribute the success and failure?
- Tell me about a situation in your professional career that did not work out as you had hoped and what you learned from it.
- Please provide examples of professional situations in which you have had to exercise judgment and independently make business decisions.
- Please describe a work situation in which you recognized a need for change and how you dealt with it.
- What kinds of professional development efforts have you made in the past? What do you have in mind for the future?
Specific to Position
- Please summarize those aspects of your training and career that qualify you for this position.
- What areas of this position’s responsibilities are you most qualified for? Least qualified for?
- Describe your skill levels when it comes to working with automated tools: analytical and quantitative software, spreadsheets, databases, word processing, electronic mail, mainframe systems….?
- Tell us about a complicated project you completed in the last year. What made it complicated and how did you approach it?
- Describe your experience with… and please provide examples… (use this type of question to compare the specific experience a candidate has with what you need for the position).
- Situational or hypothetical questions that do not have one correct answer but instead elicit responses that provide insight into the candidate’s approach or thought process.
- What distinguishes you from other highly qualified applicants for this position? OR What unique experience or qualifications separate you from other candidates?
- For supervisory/management positions Describe your supervisory/management experience and style. Describe a difficult personnel issue you have faced and how you dealt with it.
- Describe a time when you were able to adapt your communication approach so that you could interact more effectively with a person who came from a perspective, background or culture that was very different from your own. What did you do to find common ground?
- Sometimes there is a belief that a commitment to diversity conflicts with a commitment to excellence (i.e. we will have to lower our standards to achieve or accommodate diversity). How would you describe the relationship between diversity and excellence? What kinds of leadership efforts would you undertake to encourage a commitment to excellence through diversity?
- Could you please share a project or situation from your own work history that you found challenging because of competing interests, viewpoints, and priorities for constituent groups? Describe how you managed the situation, including the specific options and strategies you chose to use? What factors did you consider when weighing the various diverse and conflicting viewpoints and priorities?
- Provide an example of what you have done in a higher educational setting to improve success for students of color, economically disadvantaged students, and LGBTQIA+ students. Please provide an example of how you do this in your daily work.
- The University of Wisconsin values employees with diverse viewpoints and backgrounds. What has been your experience in working with people of culturally, ethnically, or other diverse backgrounds?
- How has your [education] [previous work experience] prepared you for [working with] [teaching] a diverse population?
- How has your background and experience prepared you to be effective in an environment [that values diversity] [is committed to inclusion] [where we see awareness of and respect for diversity as an important value]?
- What is your past experience or training in [working with] [teaching] _____ populations?
- What specific experiences have you had addressing concerns of diverse [communities] [students] [populations] at your current or previous institution? What role have you taken in addressing those concerns?
- Please tell us about an instance when you have demonstrated leadership or commitment to equity in your work.
- What were you prepared to tell us that we did not ask?
- What will your references tell us about you?
- Do you have any questions for us?
The following table has been added for your convenience and summarizes inappropriate questions for potential employees. As a reminder, ALL applicants interviewed for a position must be asked the SAME questions.
|Subject||Should NOT Ask|
|Address||Inquiry into foreign address that would indicate national origin. Names or relationships of persons with whom applicant resides. Whether applicant rents or owns a home.|
|Age||Applicant to state age or date of birth or to provide proof of age. (This information can be obtained after hire.)|
|Arrests||About arrests because the person is not judged guilty by an arrest.|
|Birthplace/National Origin||Ancestry/birth place of applicant or spouse, parents or other relatives.|
|Citizenship||Whether the individual is a U.S. citizen, as a basis for exclusion from employment.|
|Convictions||About convictions unless the information bears on job performance. Note: Do not make indefensible assumptions about future behavior based on conviction.|
|Credit Ratings or Garnishments||About credit ratings, financial status, car or home ownership, since they usually have little or no relation to job performance. NOTE: It is a civil rights violation to refuse to hire a minority on the basis of a person's poor credit rating, unless business necessity for doing so can be shown.|
|*Education and Experience||*About education or experience that is not related to job performance. Inquiries specifically asking the nationality, racial affiliation or religious affiliation of the school attended. (Requirements should not be higher than needed for job; that discriminates against poor and/or minorities with less opportunity for education.)|
|Family Status||About family planning, number and ages of children, child care arrangements, spouse's employment, salary, travel schedule, whether applicant is "head of household."|
|Gender/Gender Identity/Gender Expression||About applicant's gender, gender identity, or gender expression.|
|Language Skills||About language skill unless it is a necessary job requirement. In limited circumstances,
questions can be asked about ability to speak, read or write English or a foreign language but ONLY if the job requires.
|Marital Status||Whether a person is married, single, separated, divorced, widowed or engaged.|
|Military Record||Type of discharge from military.|
|Name||Whether a person has worked under a different name. Questions that force a candidate to divulge marital status, ancestry or national origin, or transgender identity.|
|Organizations||About all organizations the person belongs to; organizations which indicate race, color, creed, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, or national origin.|
|Photograph||For photo before hiring.|
|Physical/Mental Disabilities||General questions about whether person is disabled or the severity or nature of the disability: questions soliciting information that is not job related.|
|Pregnancy||About medical history concerning pregnancy and related health matters. Do not reject applicants because of pregnancy alone.|
|Race or Color||Applicant's race.|
|References||Do not ask for a mere listing of unchecked references. Requesting references is fine if you as the employer actually check with the requested references for employment suitability.|
|Relatives||Name or address of any relative of adult applicant. Information about friends or relatives working for an employer is not relevant to an applicant's job performance.|
|Religion||About religious denomination, affiliation, religious holidays observed.|
|Sexual Orientation/Sexuality||About applicant's sexual orientation/sexuality.|
|Whom to contact in case of emergency||Do not ask for this information before hiring.|