Human Resources

Supervisor Policies and Procedures Manual

II. Hiring a new employee

Q. Sample interview questions

The best predictability of future behavior is past behavior. Ask questions related to experiences and problems candidates have dealt with in prior positions and it will likely be how the candidate will handle similar experiences in future positions.

Past work experience in general

  1. Please describe your present responsibilities and duties.
  2. How do you spend an average work day?
  3. How has your current position changed from the day you started until now?
  4. Describe the most complex problem you had to solve in your last (current) position.
  5. Discuss some of the problems you have encountered in past positions.
  6. What do you consider to be your most important accomplishment in the last three positions you have held?
  7. What were some of the setbacks or disappointments you experienced in the last three positions you have held?
  8. Why did you leave your last employer/why would you consider leaving your current employer?
  9. What would you want in your next job that you are not getting now?
  10. Describe your involvement with committees, your role on the committees, and what you learned from each experience.
  11. In previous positions, how much of your work was accomplished alone and how much as part of a team effort?
  12. What was the most radical idea you ever introduced to an employer, and what was the result?
  13. Give me an example of a time when you questioned a policy or procedure when it might have been better or easier to go along with it.
  14. What kinds of policies and procedures have you created, and to whom did you take them for approval?
  15. Describe the most difficult interpersonal challenge you have been faced with, and what you did about it.
  16. What experience have you had in public speaking, what audience, and what was the purpose: selling, informing?
  17. Give an example of a potentially volatile situation or individual that you successfully calmed down and how you went about it.
  18. Describe a time when you went "beyond the call of duty" to accomplish a task.
  19. Describe the most difficult person you have ever worked with and how you handled it.
  20. Describe a situation in which it was necessary for you to mediate or negotiate a solution or compromise.
  21. What kinds of work pressures do you find the most difficult to deal with?
  22. Describe what you mean by "on the job stress."
  23. Describe a time when you felt you "lost your cool" on the job, and what was the result?
  24. Describe the best boss you ever had.
  25. Describe the worst boss you ever had.
  26. Tell me about a failure in your working life and why it occurred.
  27. What could your last employer have done to keep you?

Relevant education and training (do not ask for dates which could lead to age-related information)

  1. Why did you choose the particular college you attended?
  2. What determined your choice of major?
  3. How do you think college contributed to your overall development?
  4. In what way do you believe your education and training has prepared you for this position?
  5. What special training do you have that is relevant to this position?
  6. What licenses or certifications do you have that are relevant to this position?
  7. What professional affiliations do you have that are relevant to this position?
  8. Can you perform the essential functions of this position; if not would you need any accommodations because of a disability, and if so, what accommodations could you suggest?

The college's vacant position

  1. In what way does this position meet your career goals and objectives?
  2. If you were to obtain this job, in what areas could you contribute immediately, and in what areas would you need additional training?
  3. What changes and developments do you anticipate in your particular field that might be relevant to this position?
  4. What are your salary expectations if offered this position?

Attendance and punctuality

  1. What do you consider to be good attendance?
  2. What do you consider a legitimate reason for missing work?

Clerical/secretarial work

  1. Describe the kinds of telephone and receptionist duties you have had, being specific about the number of calls and walk-ins you received in a typical day.
  2. Describe your past experiences in scheduling appointments.
  3. Give me an example of a task you performed that required attention to detail, and what you did to ensure accuracy?
  4. What are some of the more unusual assignments you have been given?
  5. What kinds of filing systems have you used and/or created?
  6. What decisions could you make on your own, and what did you refer to your boss?
  7. What kinds of reports did you develop, create, or produce?
  8. What volume of mail do you typically process in a day?
  9. What kinds of correspondence have you written on your own initiative?


  1. Describe the positions in which you have had supervisory responsibility: how many people supervised, what kinds of positions, hiring/firing authority?
  2. Give an example of a time when you were disappointed in the lack of accomplishment of an employee(s) and what you did about it.
  3. What are the generally accepted steps in progressive discipline?
  4. What kinds of things have you found worked to motivate an employee?
  5. Describe what you mean by "problem employee."
  6. Describe a "sticky" situation with an employee and what you did about it.
  7. Describe an innovative way you handled a conflict with two or more of your subordinates.
  8. What kinds of things can a supervisor do to create a positive environment?
  9. What training and experience do you have in "listening skills"?
  10. Approximately how many people have you personally hired in your career?
  11. Describe an effective performance planning and review process.
  12. What communication methods have you found most successful with subordinates?
  13. What recognition and reward systems have you found most effective with subordinates?
  14. What is the role of a supervisor, in your opinion?
  15. What are the major responsibilities of a supervisor, in your opinion?
  16. What is an effective training and orientation program for a new employee?
  17. Describe the most serious complaint an employee brought to your attention, and what you did about it.
  18. Give an example of the most novel idea an employee presented to you, and what you did about it.
  19. What is a "protected class" under civil rights law?
  20. What is the difference between an exempt and non-exempt employee under wage and hour law? 


  1. What was the level of your decision-making authority in past positions?
  2. Describe a decision you made in which you were ultimately unhappy with the result.
  3. Give me an example of a decision you made that backfired, and what you did about it.
  4. Give an example of a decision you made that turned out better than you believed possible.
  5. Describe a time when you made a decision where there was no clear policy regarding the issue.
  6. What experience have you had where political pressure interfered with your getting the job done?
  7. Describe your experience with setting goals and objectives.
  8. Describe your experience in developing and monitoring budgets.
  9. What fiscal authority have you had in past positions?
  10. Give an example of a situation in which a budget overrun was necessary in order to accomplish a goal.
  11. What is the most effective method for setting priorities, in your opinion?
  12. If we were to ask your current (past) employer about your ability to organize your work, what would your employer respond?
  13. Describe a time when your goals conflicted with the goals of the organization, and what you did about it.
  14. What is the most innovative thing you have ever accomplished?
  15. What is the most creative idea you have had that was turned down?
  16. What experience do you have with writing?
  17. What have you done in the past five years to improve your writing skills?
  18. What have others said about your writing ability?
  19. What experience have you had with public presentations? For what purpose, what visual aids did you use, what kinds of notes do you use?



last revised: 2/20/2012

last reviewed: 2/20/2012

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