10 Minute Read

A few years back, I compiled a long list of interview questions from some of my current and former students. The list ranged from behavioral questions and case studies to those mind-twisting stumper questions. Over the years I posted this list on number of blogs and shared this list with my students, but somewhere along the way it got lost. I dug deep and found the file and I am resurrecting it in its new permanent home on The Art of Advice.  Feel free to add your best (or worst) interview questions in the comments below.

Behavioral Questions

  • Tell me a time when you had to motivate people on your team.
  • Have you ever had to switch directions in the middle of a project? How did you deal with that?
  • Tell me about a time when you failed? How did you respond / handle the situation?
  • How has your program prepared you for the work our firm does? What has been the highlight from a learning / job preparation perspective?
  • What skills have your extracurricular activities taught you that are relevant to this job?
  • How do you persuade/sell your ideas?
  • How do you manage your time? Tell me about the busiest time of your career, how you handled it and how it affected you.
  • How do you manage and motivate those you delegate work? Provide a specific example.
  • Tell me about a time when you dealt with a large amount of ambiguity ‐ how’d you handle it?
  • Tell me about a failure. How’d it impact you?
  • What have you found to be the most significant obstacles to getting people to take action? How have you handled these obstacles?
  • How do you build relationships? Tell me about a relationship you’ve built in the past.
  • Tell me about a time that you had schedule conflicts (school/work) and how you addressed it.
  • Tell me about a time that you were involved with a group in which one of the members was not performing as expected and how you addressed the issue.
  • Tell me about a time where you were asked to solve a problem in an area that you were unfamiliar with.
  • Tell me about a time that you had to deal with a difficult client or customer.
  • What do you think is your key learning from your career so far?
  • What would your manager from your previous job tell me about you if I called him/her?
  • Describe the toughest analytical problem that you have ever faced
  • Describe a situation in which due to a crunch deadline, you ensured that you did a particular task ahead of time than you usually take
  • How do you handle ‘Change’? Do you take a slow approach or a drastic one?
  • What are your thoughts about Micro Management?
  • What do you understand by the term ‘Global Experience’?
  • Describe a time when you were forced to make an ethical decision. What was the problem and how did you go about solving the problem?
  • With so many tasks in a day (classes, capstone, work, etc), help me understand how you manage your time and what do you do to help manage your time? Have you ever had a fall back on your time management? If so, what did you do to recover from your fall back? Briefly describe the scenario.
  • Tell about a time when you had conflicts with your manager. How did you resolve them?
  • Tell me of a manager with whom you did not like to work? Why?
  • Tell me about a time when you faced an ethical dilemma at work and had to handle it.
  • Tell me about a time when you had completely opposite opinions as opposed to some much higher authority and you chose to stress on your point and made efforts to convey it.
  • Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.
  • Tell me about an occasion when you had to bend the rules. Why and how did you do it? Is it alright to bend the rules?

Behavioral Questions (By Competency)


  • What have been your experiences in making presentations or speeches to small or large groups? What has been your most successful experience and why?
  • Describe a challenging time when others relied on you to interpret information or a message for them.
  • What types of experiences have you had in talking with customers/clients? Specifically, tell me about a time when you had to communicate under difficult circumstances.
  • Tell me about the most complex information you have had to interpret. To what extent did this test your comprehension skills and technical knowledge?
  • Tell me about the most complex report or document you had to supply to a client. How did you ensure it was easy to comprehend?


  • Tell me about a situation in which you aggressively capitalized on an opportunity and converted something ordinary into something special.
  • Many people have good ideas, but few act on them. Tell me how you’ve transformed a good idea into a productive business outcome.
  • Tell me about a time when you anticipated an opportunity or problem and were ready for it when it happened.

Continuous Learning

  • Think of something you did that was successful because of how you had stayed informed of emerging industry practices or trends. How did you stay informed?
  • Describe an effort you undertook to pro‐actively identify your own weaknesses and areas of opportunity.


  • Great yet radically new opportunities are sometimes realized only because somebody championed their cause. Describe a time when you did this successfully.
  • One of the key benefits of long‐term goal setting is its impact on shorter‐term planning and action. Describe a time when you invested resources into realization of a long‐term goal, even though the primary benefit would be at least several years in the future.


  • Describe one of your accomplishments that was due to your relentless pursuit of continuous improvement in procedures, systems, etc.
  • Tell me how you’ve accomplished something important by breaking out of a structured mindset and intuitively playing with concepts and ideas.

Customer Focus

  • In our environment, no two customers are alike and no two service deliveries are alike. Describe something you’ve done that shows your commitment to ensuring customer satisfaction, regardless of the service you’re providing.
  • How we deal with service failures can have significant impact on customer retention and loyalty. Describe a great success you had with turning a service failure around.

Commitment to Task

  • Describe a situation in which you took full responsibility for actions and outcomes. How did you act on this?
  • Tell me about a project you worked on that required you to persist in overcoming a series of obstacles.


  • Describe a situation in which a crucial deadline was nearing, but you didn’t want to compromise quality. How did you deal with it?
  • In our business, some errors that are small at first glance are truly catastrophic. Describe something you’ve done that shows your commitment to getting something right the first time.

Conflict Management

  • A good manager might view controversy as an opportunity for improvement. Describe when you have been successful at this.
  • Team conflict often involves a blend of legitimately competing priorities and sensitive emotional issues.
  • Tell me about a sensitive conflict you resolved and still maintained your objectivity.


  • Describe a time when you chose to cooperate with others on a non‐essential project even though it would require a sacrifice on your part.
  • Tell me about a time when you provided full support for a team decision, even though you didn’t agree with it.
  • Tell me about a time when you thought you knew how to handle a situation, yet chose to solicit opinions from other team members.

Resource Management

  • Describe a situation in which you had to determine and provide manpower needs for a new project or engagement. How did you handle it?
  • Most of us have been in the position of having seemingly impossible goals considering the budgets we have to work with.
  • Describe something you’ve done that shows your skill in handling this.


  • Think of a situation or project in which you had no formal position authority, yet still assumed a clear leadership role. Walk me through how you demonstrated leadership.
  • Describe something you’ve done that shows your skill in delegating.
  • Describe a work situation when your example served as a model for others.

Influence & Persuasion

  • Describe a challenge you had in persuading an individual or group on a certain course of action.
  • Describe a challenge you had in overcoming a co‐worker’s or customer’s objections. How did it work out?

Case Study Questions

  • We’re a large oil company. We need to develop some geographical mapping software to help us with finding (predicting) oil reserves. How can we go about doing this?
  • We’re a niche‐market consulting firm, and we are considering expanding. Walk me through our options.
  • We’re dealing with a client that has unrealistic expectations and you have to confront him ‐ how would you do it?
  • You’ve been tasked with designing the performance review for the firm ‐ how would you do it?
  • These are some of the more memorable questions that I was asked during recruiting season.
  • Company ABC is a retail company located in the southern portion of the United States. It has x number of stores and y number of distribution centers located in city W and Z. The company’s projected budget for the year followed one line on a given graph and the actual budget followed another line on the same graph that was much higher. What caused the difference in the actual and the projected budget?
  • Company XYZ wants to purchase and ERP system and needs help selecting the best one. How would you go about selecting the most appropriate system?
  • A client is looking to build a data warehouse from data that they have stored in multiple systems. The quality of data is poor and most users don’t trust the data from these systems. Management fears that the project of implementing a warehouse may fail because the users may not trust the data warehouse. How will you convince them otherwise?
  • The client you are working for is not technologically savvy, and your strategy involves a lot of technology implementation?
  • How do you plan to go about that? What’s the roadmap of your implementation strategy?
  • Pick an industry that you like. This industry serves a specific market and client. The company that serves this industry is [Company x]. They are currently having some problems with customer service. It seems, the customer is not receiving the correct billing statements. If you were brought in as a consultant, what would be your first steps in helping the client solve their customer service problems? Please walk me through your steps, actions and recommended resolutions.
  • Based on the scenario above‐‐ The Company is now entering a new market space where they have new clients. What can the company do to ensure that they are off to a good start in terms of customer service?
  • We have a client who owns a distribution center on the East Coast. They have now extended operations to the West Cost.
  • They would like your help to determine if they should setup a new distribution center on the West Coast or use the old one for both operations.
  • An offline business wants to go online, what is your advice?
  • A company finds out they are still going at a loss, in spite of increase in revenues. Why do you think so?
  • A financial services firm is trying to cut costs and you have been hired to look at the cost cutting opportunities in the IT department. You are going to have the very first meeting with the CIO. How will you prepare for the meeting? what questions and details will you ask? What will you already know about the firm?

Stumper Questions

  • How much does a 747 weigh?
  • You’re walking down a road and come to a fork. You meet twin sisters, and find out that one of them always lies and the other always tells the truth. Unfortunately, you don’t know who is the liar and who is truthful. You’re trying to find out which way to go to get to your final destination, and you know that both twins know the answer. How can you find out?
  • You’re downstairs in the basement, where there are three light switches. The regular (not energy efficient) lights are upstairs, and you need to know which switch goes with which light upstairs. You can only go up the stairs once. How can you figure out which light goes with which switch?
  • How many gas stations are in the state of Indiana?
  • How many McDonalds are there in Indiana?
  • How many gas stations would you say there are in the United States?
  • You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and your mass is proportionally reduced so as to maintain your original density. You are then thrown into an empty glass blender. The blades will start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?
  • Explain a database in three sentences to your eight‐year‐old nephew. How many fish are there in the sea ?
  • How would you count all the red cars in Nigeria
  • If there was a man without any hands, hearing ability and who was dumb, how would you design a computer for him?
  • How many languages are spoken in the world?
  • There are two plain jars in front of you. One is 5 gallons and the other is 2 gallons. I would like exactly 4 gallons of water. How can you provide me with this?
  • Do humans swim slower in syrup than in water? Explain your rationality to this question.
  • How many steps did you climb while coming up here?
  • Without looking back, tell me what is the color on the wall in this room.
  • Prove to me that the sum of any two even numbers in always an even number.
  • What is your life philosophy?

Get to Know You Questions

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are you passionate about?
  • Why did you choose Indiana University (or whatever university you are attending)?
  • If you could do college over again, what would you change?
  • What criteria are you using to evaluate the company for which you hope to work?
  • What was the last book you read and why?
  • Are you a competitive person? If so, give an example. If not, describe yourself and give an example.
  • Do you have any hobbies?
  • What was the last book that you read?
  • If you were a car, what type of car would you be?
  • How do you plan your day when you have a lot to do?
  • Who has been your biggest influence so far?
  • Which was your most and least favorite subject in class and why?
  • Which city would you like to visit if given a choice and why?
  • You have earned five days off from your workplace, maybe as a reward, and this was sudden, how would you like to spend it?
  • Where have you traveled recently? What did you do at this place?
  • What is your most favorite class right now? Why do you like it so much as compared to other classes?
  • Which technologies do you closely follow?
  • If you had to live your life again, what one thing would you change?
  • What has been your most rewarding accomplishment?
  • If I were to ask some of your friends in the program, ‘What’s special about you?’ what will they tell me?
  • Who is your role model, and why?

Other Good Interview Questions

  • What is your greatest & weakest technical strength?
  • Why are you interviewing with this firm? Why are you interviewing with this firm as opposed to…?
  • Who else are you interviewing with?
  • Why should I hire you over the rest of your classmates?
  • Why do you think you’re qualified for this job? You’re missing X, Y, Z.
  • Why consulting? Why do you think you’d be good at it or enjoy the lifestyle?
  • Why are you a good fit for this firm?
  • Tell me about yourself (aka give me your personal elevator pitch).
  • Walk me through your resume.
  • Tell me about a time when you failed at something.
  • How would you ensure that you strike a balance between personal and professional life?
  • Tell me something about yourself which is not in your resume.
  • There is a project on which you worked for a long time, but the management decides to scrap it, how would you go about it?Would accept it or do something to save it?
  • Can you tell me a time when you made an impact to someone’s life? Who was this individual and what did you do to provide this impact?
  • So what value has been added to your resume over the past 6 months?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to make a split second decision.
  • What qualities do you feel a successful manager should have?
  • What are your greatest weaknesses? What have you done to make sure your weaknesses do not cause you to fail?