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10 Common Job Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

  • Vicky Oliver

essay interview questions and answers

Use this guide to stand out from the crowd and land the role you want.

Interviews can be high stress, anxiety-driving situations, especially if it’s your first interview. A little practice and preparation always pays off. While we can’t know exactly what an employer will ask, here are 10 common interview questions along with advice on how to answer them. The questions include:

  • Could you tell me something about yourself and describe your background in brief? : Interviewers like to hear stories about candidates. Make sure your story has a great beginning, a riveting middle, and an end that makes the interviewer root for you to win the job.
  • How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations? : Share an instance when you remained calm despite the turmoil. If it’s a skill you’re developing, acknowledge it and include the steps you’re taking to respond better to pressure in the future.
  • What are your salary expectations? : Before you walk in for your first interview, you should already know what the salary is for the position you’re applying to. Check out websites such as Glassdoor, Fishbowl, or for salary information. You could also ask people in the field by reaching out to your community on LinkedIn.

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Resignation numbers have remained abnormally high in the U.S. between July 2021 and October 2021, with millions of Americans quitting their jobs  — which also means there are millions of new openings up for grabs. If you’re entering the market for the first time, or just looking to make a change, use this guide to prepare for your next interview.

essay interview questions and answers

  • Vicky Oliver is a leading career development expert and the multi-best-selling author of five books, including  301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions , named in the top 10 list of “Best Books for HR Interview Prep.” She’s a sought-after speaker and seminar presenter and a popular media source, having made over 900 appearances in broadcast, print, and online outlets.    

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Write an A+ Interview Paper Using Our Tips and Examples

06 September, 2021

13 minutes read

Author:  Josh Carlyle

You will quickly find yourself with your back to the wall once your teacher assigns you an interview paper. Studying is often a headache by itself, and now you have to conduct interviews. Worse yet, you probably have no idea how you can do this. Luckily, we will tell you how to write an interview paper step by step in this comprehensive guide. So prepare your favorite drink and learn how to write a top-notch interview paper.

how to write an interview paper

What is an Interview Paper?

An interview paper provides an expert opinion on a specific issue. In essence, it is an interview transcript inserted somewhere between the introduction and conclusion of an academic piece.

How long should it be? It depends on the topic and the length of your interview, but most papers are within the length of 2,000 – 5,000 words. What things should you consider before writing an interview paper in the first place? Let’s check them out below.

General Aspects of Writing an Interview Paper

Academic papers require you to provide arguments based on studies, research pieces, statistics, etc. But an interview paper is different – for this type of essay, you will develop assumptions around an expert’s opinion.

Let’s imagine your essay question reads the following: “Should we ban abortions?” If you write an interview paper, you should ask someone high-powered for their consideration. Let them be an executive director of the American Gynecological & Obstetrical Society.

You would reach them via email or phone or whatever communication channel you prefer and conduct an interview. Afterward, you would put all your findings on paper.

how to write an interview paper

But in practice, writing an interview paper involves many more complexities and challenges, like planning, topic research , drafting, etc.

Let’s speak straight facts: nobody will reschedule their week to meet you because you need to do some homework. You’re one of the millions of students, and the local governor or a famous scientist won’t give you an interview nine times out of ten.

So you would want to target someone less busy, like professors from other faculties of your college or some researchers within your academic environment. Hunting a bigger fish is pointless unless you’re a well-established journalist working for a popular media channel. If you struggle to find someone within your college/university, you can contact people from your circle.

Writing Outline and Structure of an Interview Paper

 As you know, a typical paper consists of three parts:

  • Introduction. This part includes background information, the hook, the thesis statement, and the transition.
  • Body. It is the longest part of the paper consisting of several paragraphs. It should contain the actual interview.
  • Conclusion. The final part summarizes the considerations and insights of your essay.

The question is: ‘where should you put an interview transcript and how do you do this?’

To answer this question, you need to come up with the interview papers format in the first place. There are several of them:

The narrative format implies that you can use either direct or indirect speech when referring to your interviewee. If you choose this path, you can stick to a 5-paragraph essay structure, retell the considerations of your interviewee, and cite their words here and there at your discretion.

You can also choose this format if you contact several people. Check what a narrative interview paper structure looks like when you reach out to several people:

  • Introduction.
  • Paragraph #1 – the first interviewee’s perspective.
  • Paragraph #2 – the second interviewee’s opinion.
  • Paragraph #3 – the third interviewee’s thoughts.
  • Conclusion.

Alternatively, you can dedicate each paragraph to a particular idea of one person.

“Question and answer” will suit your needs perfectly if you interview one person. It is the simplest format used in online magazines, news reports, and other media. Your interview paper outline will look like this:

  • Introduction
  • Question #1 – Answer #1
  • Question #2 – Answer #2
  • Question #3 – Answer #3
  • Question #4/5/6/etc. – Answer #4/5/6/etc.
  • Interview analysis. You may include your thoughts on the subject matter.


Conversational style is informal, and you can use either first-person or second-person narrative and follow a typical 5-paragraph paper structure. But writing interview papers in this lousy style might be perplexing, especially if you deal with this task for the first time.

We advise you to try the Q&A format because it’s the simplest one and takes the least time. Just imagine how much time your paper writing will take if you decide to interview three or five people.

How to Start an Interview Paper?

If you have no idea how to start an interview paper, choose the topic first. Selecting a topic for your interview paper is not a big deal, but you should keep in mind that you may not find appropriate interviewees for it.

Let’s imagine you want to explore whether the government should force people to get vaccines. This topic implies that you need to contact authorities. It might be a local lawyer, governor, or executive director of a local hospital. Well, the chances are these people will politely refuse to give an interview for your homework.

But if you choose to investigate how lockdown impacts intellectual workers, you can contact your friends or family members who work at home. In other words, it’s better to choose topics that reflect the experiences of ordinary people rather than the opinions of untouchable experts.

Asking people for their opinion about well-known facts like the Earth’s shape is a bad idea. You would want to choose high-profile debatable topics you can actually discuss.

Establish the Goal of Your Interview Essay

You have to establish the goal of your essay before researching the topic. For this, ask yourself: “What message should your interview essay deliver?” Sometimes, a topic of your choice might already explain the purpose of your essay.

Conduct Research

Interviewing someone implies that you should ask questions. But you will fail to do so if you know little to nothing about your topic. So read some case studies, news, articles, etc. Once you get the picture of your subject matter, you will come up with dozens of interview questions.

Get to Know Your Interviewee

A good interviewer always refers to the life and experience of their interviewee. If you’re lucky to work with someone you can read about on the Internet, find out as much information about them as possible. If your interviewee publishes any books, articles, or studies, you will better know them as well.

The more you know about the person, the more interview questions you can come up with. You can ask them whether the Internet tells their true story: “Is it true that you, Mr. Interviewee, support flat earthers?”

Draft Your Interview Questions

If you want a person to share their in-depth vision of the topic, you need to ask both open-ended and close-ended (“yes/no”) questions. However, you may struggle to prepare interview questions. Many students get stuck during this stage. To overcome this block, you need to learn some types of interview questions:

  • Opinion – What do you think of this topic?
  • Behavioral – What would you do in this situation?
  • Experience and knowledge – What do you know about the subject?
  • Background – How are you connected to the subject? What is your age, occupation, etc?
  • Emotional – How do you feel about the subject?
  • Sensory – What does the subject taste and feel like?

You can also think of the questions following the interviewee’s “yes” and “no” answers.

Tips for Conducting a Successful Interview

These four tips will help you conduct a productive interview on the first try:

1. Plan Your Meeting

Note that you want to interview a person in a quiet place so that nobody will distract you. This might be some cozy book store or a café. Or, you can arrange an online meeting. Make sure you have at least one hour for the interview.

2. Rehearse a bit

If you will conduct your first-ever interview, you want to practice with your friends/significant other/ family in the first place. This approach will help you identify what stage of your upcoming interview may challenge you the most.

3. Record Your Interview

You will forget about 50% of the information within an hour once you finish the interview. So don’t rely on your memory − bring a recorder instead. Why not take notes? You wouldn’t want to go red while asking your interviewee to repeat what they have just said or wait until you write down their answers.

4. Talk to Your Interviewee for a While Before You Begin

Speaking to someone you don’t know might be uncomfortable. You don’t have to attack them with your interview questions straightaway. Instead, you can exchange some casual phrases or discuss the weather. This will help you relieve stress and get comfortable with each other.

5. Explain Your Interview Protocol

It’s better to explain to your interviewee how you will conduct your interview. Tell them that you will use a recorder and introduce the discussion topic.

Interview Papers Format

interview paper format

In academic writing, you have to explain the purpose of your interview and introduce your interviewee in a specific “scholarly” format. The APA format interview paper has the following requirements:

  • Use 12-point Times New Roman.
  • Write a title page.
  • Use double spacing.
  • Introduce your interviewee and provide the background information – explain why this person is suitable for the interview. Mention their name and qualifications.
  • Use direct quotes if you cite some facts provided by the interviewee.
  • Use block quotes for citations longer than 40 words.

How to Write a Title Page?

The title of your paper must include your name, your institution, department, the course name and number, the teacher’s name, and the assignment date. The rules of writing the title page are the following:

  • The title page must be numbered.
  • Capitalize all major words in your title and make it bold.
  • Place the title of the essay three or four lines down the top of the page.
  • There must be one empty line before the student’s name.

Interview Papers Examples

If you’re searching for an interview essay example – check several samples below:

  • A narrative interview essay .
  • A Q&A interview format paper.
  • An interview with a scientist.

Interview Papers Writing Tips

The following writing tips will help you deliver the first-class interview paper:

  • Write the introduction at the end. Once you finish your essay, you will likely reconsider some ideas you had before you began. They will help you frame your interview essay with a captivating introduction and conclusion.
  • Give yourself a break after finishing your final draft. This will help you look at your paper with a fresh pair of eyes once you start editing.
  • Edit one type of error at a time. For example, you can reduce logical errors first and switch to grammatical mistakes afterward.
  • Use an active voice. If active voice makes your sentence shorter, use it without hesitation.
  • Check for any sample interview paper to decide on the interview questions. Perhaps, some pieces will spark your interest.

Writing Help by Handmadewriting

An interview paper doesn’t seem that intimidating once you learn how to write it step by step. First, you have to choose the subject that allows you to interview ordinary people rather than hard-to-reach ones. Then, you need to research your topic, conduct an interview, and write a paper.

You can get an A+ for this assignment with enough effort and dedication. But a doable task doesn’t necessarily mean that you must do it by yourself. If you have plenty of other assignments to do, you can ask our essay writers to craft an exemplary interview paper for you. For this, you can place an order on our website, and we will do all the dirty work.

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How to Write an Interview Essay: Complete Guide

College and high school teachers often assign interview papers to test their learners’ planning, paraphrasing, and critical thinking skills. So, besides drafting a well-substantiated and information-packed piece, students must also organize and conduct an interviewing process.

Hence, this assignment is far from straightforward. Quite the contrary, it requires substantial pre-work before the actual meeting. Moreover, the task further complicates if you include several subjects or elaborate on a compelling theme.

What if you can’t meet an ideal candidate to elaborate on your topic? How to pose questions that reveal valuable information and present your findings on paper? How to write an interview essay introduction with attention-grabbing ideas that bring up current dilemmas or resolve an issue? There are so many trilemmas spinning around your head.

Fortunately, there’s no need to feel intimated or discouraged. This article will help you grasp the basics of an interview paper and how to write an outstanding piece. It will also discuss the steps involved in the writing process and give a few helpful tips that ensure your final product passes with flying colors.

What Is an Interview Essay?

An interview paper is an academic written piece that presents the insight the interviewer gained while interviewing one or several people. It aims to expose different perspectives on a particular topic once the writer gathers relevant data through research. Typically, the essence of the paper will rest upon your findings from the interviews.

The presented viewpoints will depend on the respondent. So, for example, if your paper interview focuses on social media, you might consider talking to an influencer. Conversely, if you’re elaborating on a burning social issue, you may want to speak to a local authority. Or set up a meeting with a scientist if you’re exploring natural sciences.

The interview paper must help the reader understand a concept backed by relevant statements. Unlike definition essay writing , where you paraphrase and cite trusted sources like scholarly books, the interview paper will stem from authoritative individuals in the respective field.

Finally, you can reap a lot of benefits from drafting interview essays. More specifically, those interested in becoming broadcast journalists, newspaper reporters, or editors will learn to pose thought-provoking questions. Similarly, HR managers will polish their screening ability and hire excellent candidates. Even prospective detectives and inspectors can gain from writing an interview essay. They will formulate a variety of engaging questions to get honest and accurate answers.

Outline and Typical Structure of an Interview Paper

Most essays follow the template of a basic 5-paragraph paper. Yet, the length can vary according to your subject and data availability. A standard interview essay from a custom writing service can range from 2,000 to 5,000 words or up to ten pages. Individual works are usually shorter.

The interview essay format will have an introduction, body segments (perspectives grouped under different subheadings), and a summary. Here’s an overview of what to put in each part.

Introduction . The writer needs to create an atmosphere of uncertainty and urgency to stimulate the audience to keep reading. It should also provide background information about the theme and the interviewee. Furthermore, the initial part can list statistics or what society thinks about the respective topic. Finally, your intro must contain a thesis that transitions into the main section.

Body . This part will present the pillars on which you conceptualized your research. If you get stuck while drafting the body, you might hire an online service to write an essay for you and incorporate the gathered data. They will isolate the main points and help you frame the perfect timeline of events.

Moreover, the body should reflect important facts, life periods, and considerations of your interviewees. For instance, you might split your paper into infancy, adolescence, university, marriage, and golden years. Or you might divide your segments according to different discussion questions.

Conclusion . Use the ending part to summarize the interviewee’s thoughts and your insights into the matter. You might also compare the available data to the facts collected during the meeting and verify their validity. The bottom line must leave a lasting impression on your audience.

interview paper structure

Steps for Writing a Successful Interview

Below is a detailed description of the paper composition journey. Consider each step carefully and be consistent in your approach.

Define the Paper’s Objective

Writing an interview paper urges you to establish the overall purpose. You will have to specify the message you plan to deliver. For example, if you want to verify a public opinion, you’ll have to question several subjects. Alternatively, proving a natural phenomenon will require a conversation with an expert in the field.

Explore the Subject

Find and prepare printed and virtual materials related to your research. Previous interviews and works by the interviewee are also vital. Unlike rebuttal essays , your primary goal is to gather details supporting your claims. Therefore, brainstorm any note you found based on your predefined criteria.

Pick an Interview Format

Your sample form will depend on the specific theme. Most students decide to buy a literature essay online due to their lack of formatting skills. Here are the various formats you can choose when presenting your findings.

This format implies using direct or indirect speech to analyze the storyline. Consider retelling the considerations of the interviewee and citing the original wording. The narrative format is also advisable if you talk to a few interviewees. The structure should contain an intro, a body (each paragraph can describe a particular idea of a single person), and a summary.
Question-and-answer essays are ideal when interviewing one person. Most magazines and news reports prefer this type because it is the simplest. Your interview paper will have an intro, different parts for each question and answer, an analysis with your perspective, and a summary.


Also known as conversational or personal, these papers are informal and take first or second-person narration flow. However, writing in a dialogue form might be confusing and perplexing for an untrained eye.

Formulate the Questions

Make a thorough list of all the aspects you want to discuss and cover in the interview paper. Ask close-ended (yes/no) and open-ended questions that require in-depth responses. If you struggle with your questionnaire, consider the following suggestions:

  • Share your core values
  • What would you change in the world if you had a superpower for a day?
  • How did your childhood impact your personality?
  • What is the recipe for success?
  • What is the best aspect of your job?
  • How do you overcome your deepest fears?
  • Define happiness with examples
  • What object do you hold most dear and why?
  • What is the most significant challenge in our society?
  • How do you imagine the world’s future?

Get in Touch with the Respondent

Make an effort to contact your interviewee/s and be professional when arranging the meeting. You might need to use several communication channels to reach your target person. Focus on scheduling a time that works for everyone involved in the project.

Facilitate the Interview

Choose a peaceful and quiet place without any distractions. Always arrive on time for the meeting. Alternatively, consider setting it up in an online format, if finding a physical location isn’t viable. Most importantly, allow the speakers enough time to share their thoughts and maintain an impartial attitude to avoid miscommunication.

Interview Essay Writing Tips

Here’s some additional advice for writers taking the first steps toward interview writing.

Stick to Your Teacher’s Instructions

Your professor will probably mention the paper structure. For instance, if you receive a classification essay writing guidelines , don’t experiment with other formats. Moreover, rehearse the face-to-face meeting with a family member to avoid possible deadens. Here, you might come up with a follow-up question that clarifies some vague points.

Quote and Paraphrase Your Sources

Organize all the details on the background, education, and achievements before interviewing itself. When referring to the topics discussed, cite them properly and give credit. Also, explain the protocol to the respondent and the purpose of the research.

Consider Recording the Interview

The longer the meeting, the more details you’ll forget once you finish it. Avoid over-relying on your memory, and bring a recorder. Taking notes is also essential. However, don’t record unless the respondent gives prior approval.

Mind These Formatting Rules

Use a font size of 12 in Times New Roman with double spacing. Don’t forget to write a title page, too. When including citations longer than 40 words, use block quotes.

Edit and Proofread

Don’t expect the first draft to be the best. Reduce grammar mistakes and typos by polishing your initial wording. The final version must be logical, easy to read, and plagiarism-free.

Bottom Line

As intimidating as the interview paper might seem at the onset, these guidelines will help you stay focused and organized. Above all, pick an important topic with questions that affect ordinary people. This way, you can set up and develop the interviews more quickly. Undoubtedly, an A+ grade takes dedication and perseverance to research and write your paper.

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How to answer essay questions for a job interview.

Some employers use essays during the job interview process to assess an applicant's writing skills and ability to communicate effectively. They also show how an applicant works under pressure and time constraints. Job interview essays are often only one or two paragraphs long and usually require you to write about subjects pertaining to that particular job. A good essay can be the difference between getting the job and the employer pursuing other candidates.

Read the essay topic or question. Make sure you completely understand what you need to write about before you begin the essay. Ask the interviewer for clarification if necessary.

Introduce the topic with a strong sentence about how much experience you have in the subject of the essay or an interesting bit of personal or professional information about the subject. This grabs the reader's attention and makes them want to read the rest of the essay. Do not write "This essay is about (blank)" or any other simple introduction.

Give an example of how you handled a situation that pertains to the subject of the essay in a previous position. Be specific about how your skills helped you overcome the situation and how you can relate that experience to the new job.

Keep the essay concise to make sure you get your point across while staying within the space provided on the page. Do not add information that does not pertain to the subject of the essay, even if it pertains to other aspects of the job.

Read the essay when you are done and revise for spelling, punctuation, grammar, clarity and length.

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Lauren Treadwell studied finance at Western Governors University and is an associate of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. Treadwell provides content to a number of prominent organizations, including Wise Bread, FindLaw and Discover Financial. As a high school student, she offered financial literacy lessons to fellow students.

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Choose Your Test

Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 7 real sample interview questions and answers.


If you’ve arrived at the interview stage, then you’ve already made a good impression with your resume and cover letter! How can you keep the positive vibes going and impress the hiring manager face to face?

The key to rocking your interview is preparation, and this guide’s here to help you along the way. Read on for the do’s and don’ts of answering seven of the most common interview questions, along with real sample responses to guide your thinking.

Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

The seven questions in this guide are some of the most common ones that interviewers ask. Even if you don’t get these questions exactly, you’ll likely get variations of several of them.

Typically, hiring managers will start with some open-ended questions aimed at getting to know you, your work experience, and your professional qualifications. Then they might move onto behavioral questions , which ask you to provide specific examples of accomplishments, challenges, conflicts, or even failures. Some hiring managers also like to throw in curveballs to get a sense of your personality, creativity, and ability to think on your feet.

Below you’ll find seven common interview questions, advice for answering them, and a sample response for each one. For a comprehensive list of the 100 most common interview questions, check out this guide ! For now, let’s consider one of the most common openers that interviewers use to get the conversation started.

Question 1: Tell Me About Yourself

This opener's a common icebreaker question. It’s so open-ended that everyone can think of something to say. Hiring managers often use this prompt or something like it to invite you into conversation and help ease the normal job interview anxiety.

The open-ended nature of this kind of prompt can also be challenging, though. While you can definitely think of something to say, you also want to be strategic and not say too much. Below are some pieces of advice for answering this question, as well as some tips for what not to do!

There are two important guidelines to follow when preparing to answer this question:

Tailor your answer to the job and organization.

Structure your answer in a clear way.

For the first guideline, you should highlight your skills and experiences as they relate to the job description and organization. Stick to what’s professionally relevant , and consider what qualities are essential for the new role.

To help you do this, you might rephrase the prompt as, “Tell me about yourself as I consider you for this role.” Your aim is to show the interviewer that you have the desired skill set and would bring value to the position.

As for the second point about structuring your response, you might start in the present, bring in the past, and then talk about the future. You could describe what you’re doing now and then go into what you did in your work history and education to get there. Then you could discuss where you’re aspiring to go and why (i.e., in this new job and organization).

You might bring in a specific example here if you feel it illustrates your skills. Pinpointing an important moment in time can be helpful if you tend to speak in vague or jargon-filled ways. This approach isn’t totally necessary yet, though, as you’ll have a chance to share anecdotes in response to behavioral questions.

Tailoring your response and structuring it in a clear way are important guidelines for preparing your response to the classic “Tell me about yourself” prompt. That being said, are there any mistakes to avoid here?

“Well, I swim everyday, I love musicals, and I have two cats and a French Bulldog. I’m an Aquarius, and I love long walks on the beach and candlelit dinners…”

Ok, that sample response started to veer into personal ad territory. But the point is that you shouldn’t be overly personal in your response. While you can share some insight into your personality, you mainly want to remain professionally relevant.

Not only should you avoid irrelevant and overly personal details, but you also shouldn’t go on and on about your whole life story. If you find yourself starting with, “First, I was born on a cold December night,” then you’ve rewound too far.

Keep your answer concise, clear, and structured, and consider what main qualities, or “core competencies,” the job description calls for. For instance, the sample response below is a strong one if the hiring manager’s looking for strong interpersonal skills and a positive attitude.

Sample Answer to Question 1

In this sample response, the applicant’s applying for a customer service job in a retail company. The job she seeks calls for strong interpersonal skills and an upbeat, optimistic attitude.

I’ve always loved interacting with people and feel I have strong interpersonal skills.   I studied Communications at University X, and that gave me a whole new set of skills to work with people and help them get the information and support they need. After graduating, I sought out a position on the customer experience team at Dubspot, where I’ve been working since. In this position, I communicate with dozens of customers everyday over the phone, by email, and through instant chat. I help resolve any issues with the software and lead trainings for new clients. I enjoy helping people resolve issues and aim to continue on in a customer-centric role. Since I’m passionate about the fashion industry, I’m looking to move into a customer experience in a retail, rather than software, company. I’m a huge fan of your products and am a long-time customer. I find helping people to be very gratifying, and I’m really excited to contribute my interpersonal skills and positive attitude in this role.

If the applicant wanted to add a specific example to illustrate her love of working with customers, she might say something like this:

Last week, to share one example, I got a complaint from a customer about a number of issues with the software. Sensing her frustration, I invited her to call me so we could troubleshoot over the phone and she could feel her concerns were heard. We spent 45 minutes addressing her concerns. At the end of the call, she was very happy and sent a long email thanking me for my help and attention. She even referred two new customers to the company.

Again, honing in on an anecdote can be a useful approach if you tend toward vague language, but it’s not necessarily expected at this early stage of the interview. Now let’s take a look at two more classic questions that ask about your strengths and weaknesses.


Are you ready to talk about your personal superpowers?

Question 2: What Do You Think Are Your Greatest Strengths?

If you only prepare one talking point for your interview, it should be the strengths you’d bring to the role. While the hiring manager might not ask you this exact question, she’ll probably use some variation of it, like,

  • What are you good at?
  • What skills would you bring to this role?
  • What would you contribute here?
  • What would your manager or coworkers say are your greatest strengths?

In essence, she wants to know why you think you’re qualified for the job. Below are some tips for how to prepare your answer, along with some don’ts to avoid when talking about your key strengths.

As you go through this guide, you’ll notice a common theme start to appear, and it’s this: you should tailor your answers to the job and organization at hand. Talking about your strengths is no different.

Consider what strengths the new hire should have to succeed in this role, based on the job description and your research into the company. Then consider how your own skills align, and choose to discuss the ones that match up. This way, you’re still being accurate and authentic while also targeting the job description.

You may also benefit from bringing in a specific example , even one that uses data if relevant. If you’re talking about your skill in sales, you may talk about a particular client acquisition, your numbers from last quarter, or selling in the top 10% of your peers.

Finally, choose your words carefully and  avoid cliches. Rather than talking about your people skills, for instance, you could home in on a strength like clear communication or productive collaboration. Some phrases have gotten so common that they don’t mean much, so aim for specific language and ideas that will help you stand out.

While you should tailor your answers to the job description, you shouldn't  claim competencies if you can’t back your statement up with specifics. The hiring manager may well ask you to elaborate on a strength or give an example. If you don’t have one, then your claims of being organized or creative or collaborative might ring false.

Another mistake to avoid here is highlighting too many strengths and thereby diluting your message . Picking out two to three of the most important and relevant ones is a good approach. Similarly, you probably won’t see much pay off from delving into strengths completely unrelated to the position at hand.

While lots of people might shy away from talking about their strengths, others run the risk of appearing too overconfident. Make sure you talk about your qualities in a meaningful, assured way without sounding braggy or arrogant !

Below is one sample answer to this question of, "What are your greatest strengths?"

Sample Answer to Question 2

Here’s a sample answer from someone applying for a managerial position in a restaurant. The new job wants someone who’s willing to take on a number of responsibilities.

I’d say my greatest strength is a willingness to take on a wide range of responsibilities. While I was technically a server at Solera Restaurant, I also helped plan large events, do event set-up, process payments, and bus tables. I work hard and try to contribute where I can, especially when things get busy or people seem overwhelmed. Not only does this help ease the burden on others, but I get to learn about different aspects of the industry firsthand. I support my fellow workers and get the chance to expand my skills at the same time. 

This response targets the job description by highlighting the applicant’s willingness to wear a lot of professional hats. He proves that he has his strength by talking about his duties in his last restaurant position and desire to help his coworkers.


I know you're steady, but I've also heard you're quite slow. Can you speak about this weakness a bit?

Question 3: What Would You Say Are Your Greatest Weaknesses?

If you’re not prepared to talk about your weaknesses or "growth edges," then this question could seriously trip you up in an interview. You’re focusing so much on showing that you’re the best person for the job, so how can you shift to talking about weaknesses in a strategic way?

Some variations of this traditional question might be:

  • What are some areas that you need to develop?
  • What are some skills areas that you could grow?
  • What would your manager or coworkers say are your greatest weaknesses?

Read on for the do’s and don’ts of tackling this question.

Be honest! But also strategic. If one of the core competencies of the new job is attention to detail, for instance, I would avoid choosing that as your greatest weakness. You might subtly choose the opposite - "Sometimes I get caught up in the details and need to remind myself to step back and see the bigger picture" - or choose a weakness that wouldn’t impact your performance very much in the new job.

As with the greatest strengths question, you should prepare a specific example. You should focus not just on your weakness, but on the steps you’ve taken to overcome it. You can acknowledge the weakness, talk about what you learned from it, and expound on the steps you took the overcome it.

Just like with any of your responses, make sure to prepare for follow-up questions. Here, the hiring manager might ask how this weakness could limit your effectiveness in the new position. Be ready to speak at length about what you’re doing to learn and grow.

First off, don’t evade the question . The interviewer wants to see how you self-reflect and are honest about your weaknesses, so don’t respond with, “I don’t have any.” Similarly, don’t go with an obvious cop-out answer like, “I work too hard” or “I care too much.”

A second mistake would be to choose a weakness that would seriously inhibit your ability to succeed in the position. If the position wants someone who keeps clear records and notes, then talking about your lack of organization and poor record-keeping skills probably won’t help you get the job.

Finally, avoid playing the blame game by attributing your weakness to external factors. Don’t say that you showed this weakness due to previous job circumstances, like the work environment, your boss, or your coworkers. The interviewer wants to see that you can own your weakness and show a proactive approach to improving your skills.

Sample Answer to Question 3

Here’s one sample answer to the "Tell me about your greatest weaknesses" prompt:

I’ve struggled for a long time with public speaking. This weakness was a big challenge in college, where presentations were a major part of several of my classes. I realized early on that I needed to improve in this area, so I started by meeting with my advisor about resources for improving public speaking. We talked about techniques like challenging myself to participate at least once in every class and calming nerves with breathing. I also took a public speaking class recently that helped me improve a great deal. A couple months ago, I gave a presentation in front of about 60 students and parents, and it went really well. My nerves are still there, but I feel like I’ve come miles from where I was freshman year of college. Working on my public speaking is a skill that I actively continue to work on and try to improve.

Assuming that public speaking isn’t a major part of the new job description, this answer is a strong one to the "Tell me about your weaknesses" prompt. Notice how the applicant focuses on the proactive steps she’s taken to improve her public speaking skills. Your answer will probably look quite different, but you can similarly choose a strategic weakness and talk about what you’re doing to improve.


Why do you want this job, anyway? What makes you think you're qualified?

Question 4: Why Do You Want This Job?

This question wants you to explain why you’re pursuing the position and why you think the organization should hire you. Presumably, you’ve done some thinking about this before applying. Now it’s time to form an answer that won’t just share what you want, but will also show the manager that you’d make a great hire.

How can you answer this interview question, and what mistakes should you avoid?

This question's the perfect opportunity to showcase your enthusiasm for the new job and show why you'd excel in the role. Make sure to give specific reasons for wanting the job . Show that you don't just want any job; you want that specific job. If you have any particular connections to the company - maybe you use its products or know someone who works there - then you could bring that up here.

Of course, the interviewer wants to hire someone who's not just enthusiastic, but who's also qualified. In your answer, then, don't just talk about your  aspirations. Talk about what you could do for the organization. Demonstrate a thorough understanding of the organization's mission, and show that it aligns with your own professional goals. 

You don't want to be too practical in your answer here. "Because I need money for rent, food, and Netflix," while true, isn't an ideal response.

You also don't want to be too generic or vague by saying something like, "I heard this company's an awesome place to work." Aim to be much more specific than that. 

Check out a sample response to this question below that's specific, shows enthusiasm, and incorporates both the speaker's goals and the organization's mission.

Sample Answer to Question 4

This applicant’s applying to a programming position in a start-up in the environmental sphere. The job description wants someone who’s willing to take on a range of responsibilities, cares about its environmental mission, and knows CSS, Java, and Ruby.

I’m drawn to start-ups because I’d love to be part of building a company from the ground up. I really appreciate its culture of a small, close-knit team of passionate people who are ready and willing to wear many hats. With my versatile skill set in computer programming and experience building websites, I feel my interests and skills are perfectly aligned with this position of web developer. I would use my knowledge of CSS, Java, and Ruby to build out the company website and grow our online presence. I also share this company's commitment to sustainability. I’m extremely motivated by your environmental mission and could immediately start taking steps to meet your short-term and long-term goals.

This sample response sounds honest and authentic, while also bringing in some core skills of the jobs.


Don't evade this next question about a time that you failed, but make sure to shift focus onto the personal and professional growth that followed.

Question 5: Describe a Time That You Failed

This question is a  behavioral one, because it asks you to talk about a specific example that illustrates something meaningful about you as a professional.

Some variations of this question might ask you to talk about a conflict at work, a challenge, or a behavior that negatively impacted your team. So how can you describe a failure while still leaving a positive impression of your skills and abilities?

Just like with the weaknesses prompt you read about above, you should focus on the failure as an opportunity for growth. Be honest about your past mistake, but then shift focus to talk about what you learned from it, how you changed, and what you would do differently next time. This not only shows that you’re willing to acknowledge when you mess up, but it also shows that you’re continuously seeking to improve.

Again, you should probably avoid choosing a failure or conflict that arose because you lacked a core competency of the job. Just as with all your other answers, you can be strategic about what you choose to talk about here.

While talking about failures can be uncomfortable, you shouldn’t evade the question. Nor should you speak in vague language about lacking a certain skill or knowledge. This behavioral question wants you to share a specific example, so make sure you have one to fall back on.

You also shouldn’t focus too much on the negative aspects of your example . As mentioned above, you should talk about what happened and its context, but otherwise focus on the growth and learning that came from it.

Below is a sample answer that does this well.

Sample Answer to Question 5

In this sample answer, a teacher talks about a mistake she made with a summer course she taught. Notice how she talks just as much about what she learned as about the failure itself.

The first class I taught was a four-week essay writing course for high schoolers over the summer. Due to the short-term nature of the course, I jumped right into the material without setting aside time to talk about behavioral expectations. Issues later arose, like students showing up late, talking over each other, and using cell phones in class, that could have been prevented, or at least reduced, if I’d taken the time to lay the groundwork. That course was a huge learning experience for me, and since then I always take time on the first day to discuss classroom norms. To make students feel more invested and accountable, I also elicit ideas from them on what they need from me and from each other in their ideal learning environment. That mistake in my summer class taught me a lot about the importance of proactive behavioral management. I can always loosen the reins as I go, but it’s much harder to rein them back in once they’re out.


Don't be shocked if you interviewer throws a curveball question at you, like, "If you were an animal, what animal would you be?"

Question 6: If You Were an Animal, Which One Would You Be and Why?

Ok, so chances are you won’t get this exact question. But lots of interviewers like to throw in random curveballs that shake you out of your comfort zone and call for some imagination and quick thinking.

Beyond offering a chance for some lighthearted humor and creativity, these seemingly random questions may represent one more way that interviewers try to gauge your cultural fit.

Instead of asking about your spirit animal, a hiring manager might ask what you would change about the last five years of your life, what the name of your debut album would be, or what your personal motto is. You can find more examples of curveball questions here, including some that were asked by big companies like Dropbox, Hubspot, and Whole Foods.

So is there any way you can prepare for the unpredictable? Check out the advice below, as well as a sample answer to this question.

Show your personality! Have fun with these questions. They’re opportunities to spark a connection with your interviewer and say something memorable.

You may still have the chance to tailor your answer to the job description. Someone applying to a customer service type role, for instance, might choose a dog in answer to the animal question. Dogs are loyal, friendly, and supportive, so they could link well to the job description.

If you’re totally thrown, you might buy yourself some time by saying, "That’s a great question. I’ll have to think about that for a second..."

Depending on your rapport with the interviewer, you could even ask her what her answer would be to that same question!

Don’t overthink these questions too much. They’re typically meant to be more lighthearted and fun. At the same time, don’t dismiss them as entirely silly ; some might be aiming to learn more about how you deal with unpredictability in the workplace, or instance.

In answer to the animal question specifically, you should also avoid choosing something with largely negative connotations for the sake of trying to be unique. I’d probably avoid the snakes and vultures, unless you can think of a really ironclad reasoning for going this way!

Sample Answer to Question 6

This might be a good answer for a job that calls for a lot of teamwork and collaboration. 

I’d be an elephant. They’re smart, loyal, and work well in groups. Plus, the elephant was my beloved college mascot.


Make sure to save a few great questions for the end of your interview. They could start with any of the five W's, but don't be afraid to think outside of the speech bubble.

Question 7: Do You Have Any Questions for Me?

Finally, almost all hiring manager ask this final question at the end of the interview. Even if you’ve asked questions throughout, you should have two or more good ones saved for the end.

Ask questions! You might ask about what the day-to-day is like or if the interviewer could give more insight into the culture. You could ask the interviewer to elaborate on something you discovered through your research, as this is one more way you can show the effort you put in to learn about the company.

Ask questions that show you want to know more about what you can do for the organization and are genuinely interested in learning more about the workplace and its values.

Don’t say, "No, I’m all set. All my questions have been answered.” You should absolutely ask questions at the end of your interview.

Besides declining to ask questions, another mistake would be to ask easy questions that you could easily answer through research on the website . You want to show that you’re knowledgeable about the company, so don’t ask anything too obvious, like, "So what exactly do you do here?"

A first interview might also be too early to ask about schedule, benefits, and salary . At this point, you’re trying to show the hiring manager all the value that you could bring to the role and company, so continue focusing on what you could do for them. Similarly, I’d also avoid asking when you can expect to get promoted!

Below are some possible questions to ask your interviewer. If you can think of questions in the back of your mind based on what you’ve discussed during your interview, all the better!

Sample Questions to Ask:

  • Could you tell me about a typical day here at the company?
  • What sort of training could I expect for the position?
  • How do you evaluate performance here? Do the expectations change at all over time?
  • What directions do you see the company going in in five years? Ten years?
  • Could you tell me a little more about the team members I would be working with?
  • How would you describe the work environment here?
  • Would you say that people work more collaboratively or more independently?
  • What do you love most about working here?
  • What would you say are the most important qualities that the person in this position should have?
  • What qualities do your best performing employees share?
  • How does the organization help its employees succeed?
  • What could I do to go beyond expectations in the first 30 or 60 days?
  • If I were to start in the role tomorrow, what would be my first priority?
  • Are there opportunities for more training or education?
  • What are the next steps in the interview process?

The hiring manager might ask you all sorts of questions, but several are likely to be a variation of the common ones you see above, if not those questions themselves. You’ll talk about your strengths, weaknesses, goals, and background, all the while tailoring your answer to the job description and company mission.

You might have noticed some similar themes pop up in terms of how to prepare your responses. Below, you’ll find four steps that will help you answer just about any job interview question.


Beyond the specific questions above, let's consider some universal steps you can take to answer any interview question.

How to Answer Job Interview Questions: 4 Key Steps

Doing well in a job interview isn’t just about presenting all your strengths and skills. It’s also about strategically convincing the hiring manager that you’re the candidate she’s looking for.

So how can you be strategic about each of your interview responses? Read on for four steps that will help you answer any interview question.

Step 1: Deconstruct the Job Description

Before you interview, if not before you apply, you should take some time to understand exactly what the company is looking for. What responsibilities does the job description entail? What skills would you need to be successful in the role? What kind of person does the company hope will join its team? What does your interviewer do in the company, and what connection could you make with her?

Your mission is to show that you have the skills and experiences to contribute in the role. You want to show that you’d bring value and make a strong cultural fit. As you research the organization, you might also look for any “pain points,” or problems that it needs solved.

Once you’ve deconstructed the job description and have a thorough understanding of the role and organization, you can reflect this awareness in your answers to interview questions.

Step 2: Come Up with Specific Examples

Hiring managers often look to your past behaviors to get a sense of your future behaviors. They also want to see how your skills and experiences express themselves in concrete actions.

To prevent your answers from seeming overly vague, you should be ready with examples. To help you brainstorm, you might consider the STAR framework, which stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result.

You start by describing the situation you were in and the task that you had to do. Then you talk about  what you did and how you did it , and finally elaborate on what happened as a result of your actions. You could talk about an impact that your action had on your team or what you might improve for next time. 

To prepare for the various types of behavioral questions, you could  collect stories that have to do with a time that you succeeded, failed, faced a challenge, handled conflict, demonstrated leadership, and impacted your team in some way.

Make sure that all of your examples, even the ones that point out a conflict or mistake, are success stories. Even if you failed in some sense, you learned from it and improved for next time.

If you don’t have directly relevant professional experience, you should still root out examples from other jobs, your education, or even personal life that illustrate your qualifications.


Don't look now; you're being followed! Your interviewer's likely to follow your lead and ask follow-up questions based on your responses. 

Step 3: Prepare for Follow-Up Questions

Beyond the initial interview question, your interview may ask you to elaborate on something you said or dig deep into a certain aspect of your answer. Most interviews are more like a conversation than a question-and-answer session. Your interviewer will likely be actively listening to what you say, reflect your words back, and follow-up with a related question.

As such, your answers and examples should be substantial enough to speak at length about. As you prepare, you might imagine yourself in the shoes of the interviewer. What aspects of your answer would stick out? Which ones would be intriguing and warrant additional discussion?

Don’t expect to answer every question in one go and go on to the next. Be prepared to dig into your responses and branch into new directions .

Step 4: Customize your Answers

Finally, the theme that’s pervaded this whole guide is that you should customize your answers to the job and organization. As you prepare, consider what qualities the organization and hiring manager are looking for.

Your answers aren’t just about you and what you want. They’re also very much about the organization and what it wants.

Most hiring managers have a clear idea of the skillset and other qualities they’re looking for in a new hire. Show that you possess those core competencies in each of your answers. If you can also offer something beyond expectations, all the better!

While you should be authentic and allow your personality and goals to shine through, you should also be strategic about what you say. Everything you share could ideally go on the hiring manager’s list of reasons to hire you for the job!

What’s Next?

You’ve just considered seven of the most common job interview questions. Now check out our full list of the top 100 questions that hiring managers ask in an interview !

Beyond preparing your responses, what else can you do to get ready for interview day? Check out our top tips to help you feel prepared and confident to rock your job interview .

One of the first steps to applying for a job is putting together a great cover letter. Our cover letter template helps guide you through the writing process, step by step . Plus, you can read six samples of excellent cover letter samples for jobs ! 

Rebecca graduated with her Master's in Adolescent Counseling from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has years of teaching and college counseling experience and is passionate about helping students achieve their goals and improve their well-being. She graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT.

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How to Answer 30 Popular Scholarship Interview Questions

What’s covered:.

  • Getting To Know You Questions
  • Questions About the Opportunity

Closing Remarks

Enter the collegevine scholarships.

When applying for college scholarships, you may be invited to interview if you make it past the initial screening round. The interview may feel nerve-wracking, but being offered one is great news!

Not sure how to prepare? Here are 30 popular scholarship interview questions and example answers to help you to think about your responses. Use these examples as a stepping stone for brainstorming and drafting your own unique responses. You can apply this same formula to many other scholarship interview questions as well.

Getting to Know You Questions

1. tell us about yourself..

This is the most popular among all scholarship interview questions. It’s often used to “warm up” the interviewee. It’s also a very general question that can cause those unprepared to answer to ramble or waffle in their response.

A good answer is concise, provides a brief bio, and highlights why you’re the right person for the scholarship. Use your answer as an opportunity to spotlight the achievements, personality traits, skills, and experiences that make you an ideal candidate for the scholarship.

Example: I’m a sophomore at Carlsbad High School. I’ve been passionate about technology and its impact on human life since my early childhood days. Over the past few years, with the help of my parents and teachers, I managed to explore this passion by taking extra courses in programming languages such as C++, Android app development, and graphic design. My hobby is to help fellow students with their Android apps and program games for them.

See more examples in our guide about responding to “tell me about yourself” in college interviews .

2. Were you involved in any activities at school or in your community?

Interviewers use this question to better know an interviewee’s interests outside of their application and gain an understanding of their involvement at school and in the greater community.

This interview question is great for students with leadership roles, providing them an opportunity to talk about their experiences and involvement in clubs or sports. It’s also a chance to talk about how you contribute to your community or help people in need.

Example: I’m the editor of our school newspaper. As an editor, I manage other students who write articles for the paper and come up with topic ideas. Additionally, I’m a member of the swim team and volunteer at the historical society. I enjoy having a balance between physical, intellectual, and community activities because they keep me active in different ways.

3. Tell us about your greatest strength and greatest weakness.

Interviewers love this question, as it allows them to judge your self-awareness, honesty, and interest in personal growth. When talking about your strengths, prioritize quality over quantity and focus on two or three attributes that are relevant to the scholarship. Stories are more memorable than generalizations, so share examples of how you demonstrate your best characteristics.

It can help to reframe the second half of this question—instead of thinking of areas of weakness, they’re opportunities for improvement. No one is perfect, but you’re conscious of the areas in which you struggle and are taking steps to improve. It’s especially important to avoid cliches when responding to this question; you don’t want to be the 1,000th student to answer “I’m a perfectionist.”

Example: My greatest strength is that I can prioritize what needs to be done first today and which tasks can wait until tomorrow. Because of this, I’m efficient with my time management and able to succeed in both school and extracurricular activities. However, my greatest weakness is that I can become too focused on one task and forget about other assignments or projects which need attention. I’ve been working on this by setting reminders in my calendar throughout the day.

4. Tell us something about yourself that no one else knows.

This is another question designed to allow the interviewer to better get to know you and while it’s a personal question, it’s important to avoid sharing anything too personal or sensitive. Focus on something unique and interesting about yourself—such as an accomplishment, hobby, talent, interest, or experience—that makes you stand out from other applicants.

Example: I am proficient in sign language. This has always been a passion of mine and I wish to work with children in a clinical setting who are deaf or hard of hearing one day. I have studied sign language throughout high school and I plan to continue learning at university so that I can interact with these children without any language barrier.

5. How would you describe yourself?

This question allows interviewers to get to know you better as a person, understand how you perceive yourself, and gain further insight into your personality. Highlight the traits that are relevant to the scholarship and call attention to any relevant skills. This question is a great opportunity for students who might not have extracurricular activities related to the scholarship but have qualities that align with the scholarship.

Example: I believe my positive attitude and ability to work in a team environment contribute to my character. In my part-time job, I lead a team of baristas at my local café. The role is equal parts delegating tasks and ensuring customer satisfaction. My enthusiasm for coffee and my ability to operate in a collaborative environment left an impression of optimism on both my coworkers and customers. Regulars have even acknowledged that they visit my café specifically because of the happy atmosphere I create.

6. What are your biggest accomplishments?

This question allows interviewers to learn about your achievements while also gaining insight into your ability to set goals and achieve them. It’s a great chance for you to brag about yourself a little bit as well.

Bring up something that makes you stand out from other students, especially if it’s related to the scholarship you’re applying for! Whether it’s winning awards or competitions, being president of an organization, graduating at the top of your class, or anything else that enhances your application.

The STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) Method provides a great structure for responding to this question: provide specific details about the situation, the task or challenges you faced, the actions you took, and the results you achieved.

Example: I noticed that my high school created a lot of food waste, so I helped implement a composting program that used students’ leftovers as fertilizer for the school garden. We faced a lot of pushback at first from the school board, as they weren’t familiar with the environmental benefits of composting. After speaking at three board meetings, I was given permission to start the program. Our cafeteria was recognized by the food services director who wanted to take this idea and implement it system-wide. My team and I were then given special permission to start a “Garden Club” where we could continue to grow fresh vegetables for our peers. Since then, five additional high schools have followed suit.

7. Describe your biggest mistake.

How you respond to this question informs interviewers about your ability to take responsibility for your actions and how you learn from your mistakes. Rather than trying to appear perfect, use this opportunity to show that you can own up to your errors, learn from them, and take steps to ensure you don’t repeat them. Here, again, the STAR Method provides an outline for composing a strong answer.

Example: In my sophomore year of high school, my brother and I switched schools. My brother has always been the outgoing one and never had trouble making friends, so I failed to recognize that he was actually going through a hard transition. I had gotten so busy with my new activities that I didn’t read too much into his increased moodiness and time spent alone in his room. It was only when we got into an argument that he revealed how lonely he’d been feeling. Now, I make it a point to be more sensitive to the feelings of my friends and family, and to try to check in more regularly. I actually now have a weekly scheduled hangout with my brother where we go on a random adventure and talk about life. Last week, we went geocaching!

8. Tell me about your leadership experience.

Interviewers use this question to gauge how you build and maintain relationships, how you work with others, and how you motivate them to get something done. Highlight a time when you had to lead a team or group and how you inspired them to achieve a goal. Remember stories are more memorable than statements, so paint a detailed picture and avoid generalizations.

Example: As one of the co-presidents for my high school’s Amnesty International club , I organized and supervised the organization of all meetings and events that we attend to raise awareness about social justice topics such as refugees or endangered species. When I first joined the group, it was relatively inactive and focused mostly on letter-writing campaigns. However, in the wake of George Floyd, I rallied the group to become more involved with the Black Lives Matter movement. We attended events and reached out to local politicians to call attention to racial inequality in our community. This experience has taught me how to effectively manage a team, rally a diverse group around an issue, and organize efforts to effect change.

Do you have enough leadership experience to get accepted to your top school? Calculate your chances for free now .

9. What is your favorite book and why?

This question is asking you to show your personality and interests. It aims to get a sense of who you are so they can determine if you would be a good fit for the scholarship. Share a book that you enjoy, are comfortable talking about, is substantive enough that you can explain its importance, and aligns with your interests and passions.

Avoid choosing a book that you think will impress your interviewer—it can come off as insincere.

Example: My favorite book is Finding You by Lydia Albano. The main character, Isla, is sold into slavery, and at first, she hopes that someone from her past will come to rescue her. She doesn’t think she can escape because she’s small and not very strong. But in the end, she actually winds up saving a bunch of other girls when she creates an escape plan for them. I like this book because I would also like to work to end human trafficking. Like Isla, sometimes I feel like I can’t do anything to help, but she gives me the courage to try.

10. What subject is your favorite in school?

This is another question where you want to show your personality more than just listing off random facts about yourself. You should choose a subject that relates to the scholarship and/or one you are passionate about. You can mention how this subject makes you excited, why it’s important for you to study it, etc. Your answer demonstrates your interest in learning and in taking your education further.

Example: My favorite subject is history because I find it interesting to study how people interacted with one another over time. It’s refreshing seeing different perspectives of different cultures and studying significant historical figures. I hope to one day become a lawyer, and I know that studying history will give me the perspective, research experience, and writing skills needed to succeed.

11. What is your dream job?

This question allows the interviewer to gain a better understanding of your goals and ambitions. The position doesn’t need to be overly specific but should reflect the skills and responsibilities you hope to use. It also should tie in with the scholarship.

Example: My dream job is to work in the media industry as a producer or editor. I am passionate about sharing people’s stories and would love to brainstorm ways that we could create more awareness through reporting. This career would allow me to use my creativity to positively influence others.

12. What is a meaningful experience or class you’ve had in school?

This is a more advanced version of the question asking you about your favorite subject. Its intent is to learn how coursework has shaped your interests and shown you new perspectives on certain topics.

Example: In my senior year of high school, I took a course on Media and Society. I specifically recall the final essay assignment where we had to compare two different media elements. Analyzing the portrayal of women in video game advertisements was my topic for this project. At first, I was really nervous about the topic; would I offend some friends within my gaming circle? I didn’t want to seem like an overly sensitive female gamer. But, doing the research provided me with a better understanding of how women are often objectified in advertising, and after talking to my friends, they ended up being really supportive of my project and we have since become more aware of the kinds of media we’re consuming.

13. Who do you look up to? Who is your role model?

The expectation of this question is to see which qualities you admire, what inspires you, and who has shaped your interests or helped you become who you are today. This could be a public figure, teacher, mentor, family member, friend—really anyone. Your answer should demonstrate your values and align with the values of the scholarship.

Example: I admire Amelia Earhart because she was a women’s rights activist and broke social barriers by being the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. She was able to pursue what she wanted despite harsh criticism, which helps me feel more empowered to follow my own dreams.

14. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

This is a question to learn about your future aspirations and goals. It’s also an opportunity to show the scholarship committee that you are ready for college and beyond. You want your answer to demonstrate that you have a plan moving forward; it doesn’t have to be super specific or set in stone, but you should have an idea of what you hope to achieve. You’ll also want to speak to how the scholarship fits into your future goals.

Example: In five years, I plan to have graduated college with a degree in economics and have landed a job in financial planning where I can put both my analytical and people skills to work. I’m passionate about helping people make informed financial decisions and meeting their personal goals and this scholarship will help me gain the education I need to pursue a career in the field.

15. How do you define failure?

This question is meant to see how you respond when faced with a challenge and gain insight into your problem-solving skills. It is important not to simply say that failure means giving up, as this will show that you lack initiative and drive. The best way to answer this question is by using personal experience, demonstrating what you learned from it and how you’ve used the lessons for self-improvement.

Example: I define failure as a missed opportunity. When I first began to play rugby during my freshman year of high school, I quickly realized that our team was not very strong. At times, it felt like we were bound to lose every game. But rather than letting this bring me down, I saw the season as a chance for me to try my hardest and become an impact player on the field. As the years went by, I continued to improve and our team grew closer together. Our losses began to transform into opportunities for growth, and by senior year, I was nominated captain. I had done everything in my power to make sure my teammates succeeded—even though it meant that on the scoreboard we would inevitably lose more than we won.

16. How do you manage stress?

This question seeks to determine how you deal with difficult situations. It’s common for students to respond that they like to focus on what is happening in the present moment, but this answer will show that you do not have a strategy for coping with stressors. A better way to answer would be by mentioning a specific skill or habit that you have developed over time. Make your answer memorable by citing a specific example of a stressful time and how you handled it.

Example: Last fall I was feeling particularly taxed—I was taking two AP courses, studying for the SAT, playing varsity soccer, and preparing to apply to college. I felt a lot of pressure to get everything done and it was overwhelming. I’m a very organized person, and when I have a lot of work to do, I break it down into manageable tasks. Seeing everything that needs to be done in one sitting can be exasperating for me, but if I give myself smaller goals to meet each day then it all becomes more manageable.

17. Tell me about a time you overcame adversity.

Interviewers ask this question for a variety of reasons, including learning about your problem-solving, creative thinking, and resourcefulness. It’s also a chance to gauge your resilience and determination. A strong answer highlights something that was difficult for you, the steps you took to meet the challenge, and how the experience would help you handle adversity you might face in the future. People remember details, so be specific.

Example: Many of my friends love playing sports and were busy much of the year with after-school practices. Unfortunately, I’m not particularly athletic. I tried out for the football team but failed to make it because I didn’t have enough experience. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I decided to join the swim team and began training with one of the best swimmers in school. She allowed me to shadow her until she felt that my technique was on par with the rest of her team. By the end of my sophomore year, I qualified for state-level tournaments!

18. What motivates you?

This question is usually asked to see what motivates you to do your best, but more importantly, provides you with a chance to show off the positive aspects of your personality. Your answers should focus on something that aligns with the scholarship—was there something that jumped off the screen/page when you read about it? Equally important to what you say is how you say it; make sure your answer is positive and enthusiastic.

Example: Curiosity is my main motivator. I love learning new things, and I am constantly trying to figure out how things work—I attended a JAVA camp last summer just to learn more about how video games are designed. This scholarship will allow me to further explore coding and help satiate my natural curiosity.

19. Tell me about a time when you didn’t agree with an authority’s decision.

This question aims to gain insight into how you think through tough situations and is a test of your maturity. The interviewer wants to know if you are able to provide constructive feedback and what your approach would be when taking a stand against an unpopular decision.

Example: I was extremely disappointed when the school board decided not to purchase new science textbooks for our school library. While it made sense to save money, I decided that I needed to write a letter about my concerns. By explaining how this would impact the students’ discovery of new ideas and knowledge, I was able to convince my classmates to join me in signing an online petition. Luckily, they agreed with my perspective and the school board changed their decision.

20. Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond on a task.

This question is meant to see your dedication, motivation, and work ethic. A good answer will highlight a specific attribute you want to call attention to and use an example of a time you went beyond what was required to convey that attribute. While it’s tempting to talk about a big accomplishment, it’s important the story also focuses on a time you did more than you needed to. As always, include a specific example!

Example: Over the past two years, I’ve worked in my hometown library. While I always make sure that each day’s work gets done in a timely manner, I also try to go the extra mile. If someone comes in looking for help with an assignment, if possible, I stay late with them until everything is complete. It’s super fulfilling. I even had one of the students I’ve helped come in to tell me she’d improved her math grade from a C to a B+!

21. How would you describe a good school environment?

This is a question that allows you to visualize your ideal environment, and what your priorities would be if you were in charge. It’s also a way for interviewers to learn about your personality and preferences. If an interviewer asks this question, it may mean that they are trying to figure out if you would fit into the scholarship’s culture.

Example: I think the most important thing about school is being able to personalize your learning. I’m looking for a place where I can learn the specifics of my field, but also have the freedom to pursue different ways of learning. For example, in my Spanish class, we were learning about language and identity, and we had to write a paper analyzing the specific works we studied at the end. I asked my teacher if I could instead write a personal paper about my experiences with language and identity while incorporating the works. This reflection was super meaningful to me as a Mexican-American student. I want to attend a school where this sort of academic freedom is the norm.

22. Tell me about a personal achievement that makes you proud.

This question is meant to see what makes you proud in life and how you define success. Answering this question provides an excellent opportunity to brag about a big accomplishment and spotlight scholarship-related qualities, like perseverance and problem-solving. Make sure to credit those who helped you along the way and share what you learned from the experience. Let the interviewer know that you’re setting the bar high, not just coasting along.

Example: During my senior year, I helped plan out our high school’s first mock trial event. The debate team had been around since my freshman year, but they never considered a mock trial until my graduating year. I wanted to make a good first impression on the debate team since I intended to become team captain. To show my commitment, I volunteered to be a co-lead coordinator for our team which meant I helped recruit participants, organized our plan of action, and was one of the main points of contact for our group before and during the mock trial. Thanks to the efforts of everyone, the competition turned out to be a huge success, and it helped our high school stand out as one of the top debate schools in the Midwest. After that, I was asked to become the captain of the debate team.

23. Describe your personality in three words.

The interviewer is looking for a glimpse of your personality, to understand how you view yourself, and to see if you’re a good fit for the scholarship. Make sure to concentrate on your unique talents and skills in your response and avoid jargon along with irrelevant and pretentious words.

Example: I would say that I am resourceful, creative, and proactive. I have a way of finding solutions to problems, even when the answer isn’t clear. I believe in tackling challenges head-on and am willing to think outside of the box for solutions.

24. How do you start a project?

This question is meant to determine your process for getting something done. The interviewer wants to know if you are organized or just jumping into things.

Example: I start by making a list of all the things that need to be done. Then, I research everything there is on this topic to make sure that the project is feasible. Once I am satisfied with my amount of knowledge, I make an outline for myself before I begin anything else.

25. How did you choose your major?

Interviewers use this question to learn about your passions and interests. When answering, try to align your major to the scholarship. Highlight the attributes of the major you’re excited about but steer clear of talking about money. For example, engineering might be a lucrative major, but talking about it isn’t likely to score you any points. As always, specific examples and stories are more compelling than generalizations.

Example: My father is a doctor and my mother is a nurse, but when they were young, they were both teachers. They taught me that education is the foundation for everything, so I’ve always taken school seriously, and I especially enjoyed my science classes. I initially didn’t want to go into healthcare because I didn’t want to just “follow in the footsteps” of my parents, but after shadowing a doctor for a day, I realized that the field was right for me since it combines education with helping others. I don’t want to be a doctor or nurse like my parents, but I hope to be a biomedical engineer to help build innovative technologies and be a lifelong learner.

Questions About The Opportunity

While scholarship interviews will largely be about you, it’s common for them to also ask about the opportunity itself. Take a proactive approach and prepare yourself to answer questions about the scholarship.

26. Why did you choose to apply for this scholarship?

This question is designed to gauge your interest in the scholarship and your fit with it. Share specifics of what excites you about the scholarship and how it aligns with your college and future goals. Keep your answer positive and focus on the best aspects of the scholarship.

Example: I chose to apply to the Davis-Putter Scholarship because I’ve always been passionate about political activism. Throughout high school, I was active in the fight for women’s rights, particularly reproductive rights. I organized an event at the state capital in support of women’s rights, coordinated a letter-writing campaign at my school to encourage our local elected officials, and created and distributed a list of candidates coming up for election and their stances on women’s rights issues. I’m excited to use this scholarship to learn more about the causes I’m passionate about, meet other organizers, and help make the world a fairer, more equitable place.

27. Why should you be the one to receive this scholarship?

It’s sometimes easier to reposition this question to what makes you unique. Scholarships can receive hundreds, even thousands, of applications—so what makes you stand out and more deserving than other applicants? This is your chance to make a case for yourself and show the interviewer why you’re the right person for the award; link it to your passions, tie it to your skills, and show the positive effect the funds will have.

Example: I am applying for this scholarship because I believe my work ethic and determination make me an excellent candidate. Last year, I helped organize the high school student council’s first blood drive in our county, which was a big success with a 100% participation rate and inspired me to do more community-focused work. This scholarship will help me acquire the education I need to pursue a career in public service.

28. How will you use the scholarship money?

This question is to make sure the scholarship will go to good use. The interviewer wants to know if you are serious about the scholarship application and will represent the scholarship sponsor in a positive light. Have a budget prepared and highlight how you’ll use the funds to further your education. If you don’t have a plan, it will be difficult for the scholarship to believe that this scholarship will be beneficial to either party.

Example: I would use this money toward my bachelor’s degree in sociology with a specialization in gerontology. Furthermore, I would use this opportunity to shadow a gerontologist and volunteer at a nursing home so that I could gain more insight into this field. Having this scholarship would allow me to worry less about finding a paid job to fund unpaid internships or shadowing opportunities and would allow me to focus more on my studies.

How you end an interview can have an enormous influence on your odds of winning an award. The goal is to leave your interviewer confident in your personality, skills, qualifications, and fit for the scholarship.

29. What questions do you have for me?

The interviewer is looking for you to display interest in the program by asking questions. Your response should be tailored to your particular interests and any concerns that you may have had throughout this interview. This is also a great chance to engage your interviewer with questions focused on their experience with the scholarship.

Examples: What was your favorite part of the scholarship program? What characteristics, goals, or accomplishments of the scholarship are you most proud of? What do students say is the best part of this program? What are the former scholarship recipients doing now, particularly those in the fields I’m interested in?

30. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

It is crucial to show the interviewer that you are serious about this program. This question gives you an opportunity to make any additional points or highlight anything that you may have not covered in your response beforehand. If you have something relevant to share that didn’t come up naturally in the interview, this is the time to mention it.

Example: I believe that I am an ideal candidate for this program because my educational background, passions, and future plans align with what this program has to offer. I am excited to be a part of this program and I look forward to hearing from you.

CollegeVine provides a quarterly, no-essay scholarship of $2,000. To sign up, all you have to do is create a free account, which allows you to see your chances of acceptance at 1,600+ schools, get your essays reviewed by a peer, ask questions in our community forum, and more. If you already have an account, just make sure your chancing profile is filled out.

Awards are paid out directly to students to help them cover any educational costs. Learn more about the CollegeVine scholarships .

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essay interview questions and answers

All You Need to Know About Interview Essay Writing

All You Need to Know About Interview Essay Writing

essay interview questions and answers

Purpose of Writing an Interview Essay

The writing process is not always smooth sailing. When it comes to the construction of interview papers, you are free to ask about myriads of issues of your interests and get a broad insight from the interview subject. Once you figure out the main thesis statement for your interview essay, you must collect relatable data in question-and-answer format. The gathered information is almost always subjective since the authoritative individuals and qualified experts are your main data providers. Interview essays are constructed based on people's biased opinions rather than books, historical records, and other sources.

Are you looking for answers on how to write an outline for interview essay? We are here to provide you with useful tips on how to write interview APA format essay. 

You might as well find this article helpful since we have prepared essay writing in interview sample at the end of it.

Format for Writing an Interview Essay

Are you on the verge of choosing an appropriate format to write an interview essay? One of the essential steps includes identifying the type of interview paper you are willing to write. The interview essay format is determined based on the style of your paper. There are three basic types of interview papers:

interview papers

  • Narrative Essay Interview - Through this type of paper, you are assigned to research a specific topic based on the conducted interview. The main thing is to accumulate all the information that the interviewed person has provided in a neat and organized manner in the form of a narrative. The story might be written from your perspective or that of the interviewee. In that case, you are free to write in the first and second person.
  • Personal Interview - Such type of paper demands you to prepare a list of witty interview questions to ask a specific person who holds a certain type of authority based on their professional occupation. The final product turns out to be an interview in essay format.
  • Question-answer Interview - Such interview questions are often asked to job seekers. This is your chance to glance through the common interview questions that the hiring managers will ask you to get a glimpse of your personality and career goals. The questions and answers can be combined in an interview paper. For more information, check out internship interview questions and answers here.

essay interview questions and answers

How to Write an Outline for Interview Essay

After you have chosen key points for your interview paper and adjusted its format accordingly, you might wonder, 'should I write an outline for an interview essay ?'. The answer is clear and direct - 'Yes, definitely!'

Good writers always prepare an outline in advance, which is a great tip to lift the burden of the time-consuming paper writing process. The basic structure of interview essay outline includes three major parts:

outline for interview

  • Introduction - As you state your paper's thesis statement, you can start writing by introducing the person or the people you interviewed.
  • Body Paragraphs - The following paragraphs should contain the subjective points of view that your interviewees provided concerning your major thesis statement.
  • Conclusion - In the concluding paragraph of the essay, restate the paper's main goal and summarize the most important points you have made so far.

Writing an Interview Essay Introduction

Once you wrap up the interview essay, outline you are ready to start the writing process. Writing a catchy lead and grabbing a reader's attention right away is not a simple task. However, there are some key elements that make up the best of the introduction part of your interview essay. The primary sentence should briefly contain the main objective behind the chosen topic of the paper. The following sentences should report the importance of your essay topic to your target audience. Finally, you can proceed with the thesis statement, which indicates the basic value of your paper. In other words, try to answer the question of what benefits the reader gets from familiarizing themself with your interview paper.

Do not hesitate to ask us to write an essay for me whether you are assigned to construct an interview essay on writing or any other given subject.

Writing an Interview Essay Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs hold the majority of the essay. Provided paragraphs support the central statement with relatable facts, details, and key points as the answers that an interviewer asks.

Some of the interviewers prefer to use a recording device, while others opt for notes to contain the important data in its entirety. They choose to include parts of the narrative later in the body paragraphs of the essay as they gather the most important and thematic points made throughout the interview process. You might as well include direct quotes or in-text citations as the sources of provided answers. However, always keep in mind to ask for written permission if you plan to paraphrase or directly copy their ideas word by word according to the issue of your interest.

Writing an interview essay can be hard, so if you are looking for further tips on how to write an essay , we can provide you with an interview essay outline example as well as the complete paper itself.

Writing an Interview Essay Conclusion

The classic format for writing an interview essay includes jotting down the main objectives made throughout the paper in a final paragraph, otherwise known as the conclusion. The last paragraph is not any less important compared to the opening one. That is why you should try and restate the crucial points that interviewees have made while answering questions provided by you. That way, you will sound even more persuasive as you provide evident arguments supported by powerful public figures regarded as influential in society.

You are welcome to conclude the essay with a respectful thank you note as well. Express sincere gratification to the reader for taking the time to read your essay and focus on your contribution to them with the source of information contained in the written interview paper.

If you don’t have distinguished skills for writing an outline for college interview essay, our experts have your back! Contact us to write papers for money and enjoy a perfectly-crafted assignment.

Essay Writing Topics in Interview

Looking for inspiration? Researching an interesting topic for the essay can be exhausting sometimes. But we are here to give you a helping hand through tough times. Our experts have gathered some of the most compelling essay writing topics in interview. You are free to take a look at them and choose one that satisfies your curiosity and challenges you to be analyzed in depth.

  • Does body language describe our mental state?
  • How important is eye contact for establishing genuine connections?
  • Are educated and qualified people obliged to give more to others?
  • Which job position is the most attractive in the 21st century?
  • Do career services help people get to their target job market?
  • Does conflict resolution hold an important place in the contemporary world?
  • What is love, and where do you feel it or experience it most often?
  • How do our family heritage and traditions influence our personalities?
  • How many hours of sleep are needed at different stages of life?
  • What kind of skills is essential to possess in order to become a good leader?
  • Should the tax system be allocated to the rich and poor accordingly?
  • Is the two-party system the guarantee of American democracy in the US?
  • Should combatting racism be an individual responsibility?
  • Should the American people restrict the amount of money spent on the electoral college?
  • How do relationships and friendships shape our lives?
  • Do your dreams and nightmares reflect real-life events?
  • How do you keep yourself from getting sick?
  • Does technology make your daily life easier?
  • Do you agree or disagree with the idea that opposites attract?
  • What does it mean to be a religious and faithful person to you?

We hope those mentioned above, as well as other essay writing topics for interview in google, will fuel your curiosity.

Meanwhile, you can always pay for papers . Our experts are capable of writing an essay for a job interview based on your individual demands that will get you closer to your dream position.

Interview Essay Writing Examples

Here is one of the interview essay writing examples to check out. We hope that the provided example will give you some kind of perspective:


According to the popular idea, leaders are born rather than made. Contrary to this belief, many real-life examples prove that people can grow into a leader type as they grow older if they want to. Any man can be a leader, but it is not an easy thing to do. You need to know yourself to set an example for others, inspire them, and give them a sense of trust to follow your steps. People are inclined toward those who know where they are going, have their own vision, and are educated enough to support their decisions with rational arguments. These traits give leaders the power to be persuasive. They have their goals set and are not afraid to firmly face any challenges that life might throw their way.

To support this statement, we have interviewed a Pakistani female education activist, Malala Yousafzai, who also carries the honor of being the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. She is a pure example of how one can rise from any kind of social and domestic circumstances if one has a vision and works hard enough to achieve their goals. She realized the value of education from a very young age. The latter was often inaccessible for girls of her nation due to authoritative powers in the head of the government, under which education was banned for almost all the females in the Northern Pakistani region. Malala persistently fought for her truth and raised awareness about the value that educating girls and boys could hold. She began writing articles and her personal insights anonymously to describe the intolerable circumstances that females had to face under the group of dictators, highlighting the purpose of education and its unavailability for girls of Pakistan.

Malala's example is one of a kind. She wants to be remembered as a girl who tries to help others in whatever capacity she can hold. She did everything possible to let the outer world know about the injustice that the government of her nation committed. She never backed down even after the confrontation between her and the representatives of the ruling power at the head of the Pakistani government.

Further Academic Help

We hope you gained some beneficial information throughout this article which will help you craft a top-notch interview essay for your journalism class. In case of further assistance, our expert writers are here to provide you with interview essay examples APA format at our paper service platform.

Before you go, you are welcome to take an essay writing test for interview to check how well you understood the concept of the article and implement gained knowledge into your upcoming assignment.

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8 Examples of How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself”

By Biron Clark

Published: November 16, 2023

In this article, I’m going to walk you through steps and examples of how to answer the “Tell me about yourself” interview question to impress employers and get more job offers . We’ll also cover the  costly mistakes you NEED to avoid if you want to pass this question. 

Here’s exactly what you’re going to get:

  • The most-recommended method of how to answer “tell me about yourself”
  • 8 examples of good answers to “tell me about yourself” for various industries
  • A shorter, newer method for experienced candidates
  • How to practice your answer to make sure you’re 100% ready for the interview

Let’s get started…

Why Do Interviewers Ask “Tell Me About Yourself”

“Can you tell me about yourself ?” is a common interview question that’s generally delivered as an icebreaker or pathfinder question, right at the start of an interview. It can catch you off your guard because it may seem vague, broad, and somewhat tricky. Honestly though, understanding a bit more about why interviewers ask this question (which is often framed as a command) will give you a clear insight into how to answer.

Interviewers ask this question to ease you out of those introductory jitters (that you both feel) and into the nitty-gritty of why you’re there. It’s their way of establishing a direction for the interview because it shows them how you summarize your experience and show its relevance to the job you’re applying for, which in turn tells them what to ask next. Trust me though, your answer needs to be relevant, the interviewer is likely not asking whether you’re a dog or a cat person but rather what background, skills, qualifications and experiences brought you to this interview today. 

Watch: How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself?”

Different ways of asking the same question.

I mentioned how this question can sometimes be framed as a command, i.e: “tell me about yourself,” and so on. There are numerous ways this question might be framed, but all express the same intention on the part of the interviewer, so they should all be answered the same way. Common variants include:

  • “Take me through your resume.”
  • “Tell me about your background”
  • “Describe yourself.”
  •   “Can you tell me more about why you’re here?”
  • “What brings you here today?”

When it comes to describing yourself, you may wonder where to start, how personal to be, and how far to get into it. “Describe yourself” certainly feels a little more personal than the rest. For insight into how to answer that variant, Read This Article .

How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself” in an Interview:

1. choose the right starting point for your story (important).

Your goal when answering, “tell me about yourself,” is to give a brief, concise walkthrough of your career story that will show off relevant pieces of experience. You want to start at a point in the past (like how you began working in this field), and end up in your current situation. So the first thing to decide is where you’ll begin the story… If you’re a recent graduate: Start with the fact that you just graduated, and explain why you chose this career path or field of area of study.  

For example, you might start your answer like this:

“I graduated with my degree in Economics two months ago. I chose that field of study because I’ve always been interested in finance and money, and a couple of family members told me it leads to great career options, too.”

If you have 1-8 years of experience, start with the moment you graduated and walk them through your employment experience since then.

Here’s an example of how you’d start your interview answer in this situation:

“I graduated with my degree in Industrial Engineering six years ago and immediately went to work for a small design firm in Chicago. Since then, I’ve…”

And if you have 8-20+ years of experience, you can start with a mid-point in your career. This will keep your answer from getting too long.

For example, if you’re a manager, you could start with how you first became a manager. If you’ve been working for 25 years but have only been a sales professional for 12 years, you could begin with how you got started in sales.

Here is an example of how to begin your answer to “tell me about yourself” as a very experienced candidate:

“I first started managing people twelve years ago, when I was promoted from Customer Service Associate to Customer Service Supervisor. Since then, I’ve…”

2. Highlight Impressive Experience and Accomplishments

As you tell your career story, explain key accomplishments you’ve achieved, work you’ve done, skills you’ve learned, and key career moves you’ve made.

  • Were you promoted? That’s always a great sign and worth mentioning.
  • Did you accomplish something significant like solving a big problem for your last employer?  That’s great to mention, too.
  • Did you build new skills or overcome challenges? Get specific! Tell details.

But random impressive facts aren’t enough. You should be thinking about how this ties in with the company you’re talking to.

  • You should always research the company before going into the interview . Study their job description in particular so you know what skills THEY care most about.
  • What does this particular job involve? Is there a lot of leadership? Talk about your experiences leading (no matter how small!), how it went, and what you learned.
  • Does the job involve a high level of technical skill? Talk about how you learned and advanced in that area through each step of your career!
  • You need to “tailor” your answer for, “tell me about yourself,” for their job description and their needs. Try to talk about experiences and qualifications that are relevant to this job you’ve applied for.

3. Conclude by Explaining Your Current Situation

Finally, the best way to finish your story is to bring them up to speed on your current situation. Why you wanted to apply for their job , what you’re looking to do next, etc.

For example you might end your answer by saying:

“…and that’s why I wanted to interview with your firm. This position seems like a great opportunity to advance those skills I just talked about, and continue building my career and challenging myself”.

4. Keep Your Answer Work-Related

When employers ask, “tell me about yourself,” in an interview, they usually want to hear about you as a professional. So the safest approach is to keep your answer work-related and share your career story, rather than personal details. You can show more personality as the interview goes on, but it’s risky to share too much personal info when answering, “tell me about yourself.” It could lead to your answer getting too long, or it could cause you to leave out important professional information that the interviewer was looking to know!

5. Be Concise When Answering (2 Minutes or Less!)

When they say “tell me about yourself,” it’s going to be tempting to give a long-winded answer. It’s such an open-ended question. And we covered a lot above, but there’s something just as important as any of that. You need to be concise.  Your communication and ability to stay on track with your answer are two things they are watching closely. The interviewer wants to see that you can tell your story from Point A (the beginning) to Point B (the end) without getting sidetracked, distracted, or scattered. Because it tells them how you’ll communicate as an employee… when there’s a problem, when there’s a disagreement, or when you simply need to share your knowledge or opinion. If you take this answer beyond 2 minutes you are shooting yourself in the foot. In fact, below 90 seconds is ideal. Practice at home with a timer! That’s why I recommend choosing a starting point based on your experience (Step 1 above)… because if you have 25 years of experience and you start at the moment you graduated from college, your answer will be too long.

“Tell Me About Yourself” Example Answers:

Now that we’ve covered the key steps to answering, “tell me about yourself,” let’s look at some full answer examples to this interview question .

Example Answer for Experienced Candidates:

“I graduated with a Business degree in 2010, and was offered an account management position at a telecommunications company I had interned with. I loved working with customers and managing and growing my accounts, but the industry we were in just wasn’t very appealing to me. After that, I stayed a full year and learned a ton about how to build and manage accounts successfully and  I ended up becoming a top performer in my group before leaving. I left at the 1-year-mark to pursue a very similar position within an industry I’m much more excited about- healthcare. I’ve been at this healthcare startup space for 2 years with this company and I feel ready to take my career to the next level so that’s why I’m currently looking for a new opportunity.”

That first example showed you how to answer “tell me about yourself” for experienced job seekers (at least a few years of experience). Now let’s look at an example for entry-level job seekers and job seekers with no experience .

Example Answer With No Experience:

“I graduated with a degree in Engineering two months ago. I chose that field of study because I’ve always been interested in math and physics , and a couple of family members told me it leads to great career options. One of my key accomplishments during my academic career was speaking at a conference on the topic of energy-efficient window design, based on research I had done for one of my senior-level classes. This led to an internship that I just wrapped up, so I’m actively looking for a full-time position now.”

Stand Out by “Tailoring” Your Answer to the Company

The end of your interview answer is a big opportunity to customize your answer for the company and job you’re interviewing for. When you talk about what you’re looking to do next in your career, try to mention whatever you see this company providing for your career (leadership, technical challenges, exposure to new areas, etc.) That shows them why you’re excited about their job, which will help you get hired! (I explain more about why this is true here ). Before we move on to more tips and a HUGE mistake to avoid, here’s one more example interview answer for this question.

Shorter Method for How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself” (For Experienced Candidates Only)

The method I gave you above is the standard way most recruiters recommend answering “tell me about yourself.”  It’s how I coached job seekers to answer this question for years. There’s another way you can answer, though… and it has some benefits. I’ll explain…Many experts have pointed out that if the interviewer wanted your career story, they could have looked at your resume or your LinkedIn , or asked a question like, “can you walk me through your background?” So there’s another approach for answering, “tell me about yourself,” that skips the career story and just cuts right to the chase: Why you’re awesome and why they should hire you !

Let’s look at 2 word-for-word templates that accomplish this.

After this, you’ll have two proven methods for answering, “tell me about yourself” in interviews, and in the next section, I’ll reveal how to decide which method is best for YOU.

Example answer if you’re job searching while employed:

“Well, I’m currently working at XYZ Company and I specialize in doing ___. The reason I applied for this job is I saw ___ on the job description and I think I would be able to help you ___ and ___. One of my key accomplishments in my current role was helping my employer do ___, and I’m confident I can help your team get similar results here.”

Example answer template if unemployed:

“In my most recent position at XYZ Company, I specialized in doing ___. The reason I applied for this job is I saw ___ on the job description and I think I would be able to help you ___ and ___. One of my key accomplishments in my last role for XYZ Company was helping them  ___, and I’m confident I can help your team get similar results here.”

Which Method Should You Use for Your Answer?

If you have work experience, both options we’ve covered are very good, and it really depends on what you feel most comfortable with. Choose the one you like best. They’re both excellent ways to answer the question, so don’t stress over it! However, if you are entry-level and have no work experience… or internships at the very least…  then I would go back to the top of this article and use the first, 5-step method for answering, “tell me about yourself.”

This second method we just covered is really best if you want to give a unique, concise answer and you have some relevant work experience to share in the interview!

“Tell Me About Yourself” Example Answers For Different Industries:


“After being licensed six years ago, I immediately entered a busy E.R. setting where I progressed to the point of triaging as many as 50 patients a shift. I’m skilled in patient record-keeping, stabilizing incoming patients, diagnosing injuries, administering meds, doing stitches, starting I.V.s, setting bones and offering emotional support to family members behind the scenes. I’ve adapted to the pressure but feel that, in the long term, I’d be better suited to a slower-paced environment with more focus on establishing lasting patient relationships. I’m ready to take on this post in your busy day clinic and believe that my advanced patient triage skills, along with my empathic nature, would be a great benefit to your team.”

This works because:   This answer outlines your qualifications and extensive background in incoming patient care, triage, diagnosing and record-keeping. Your honesty about long term goals is appreciated. The answer shows how your skills have progressed since you were licensed, and it inspires confidence in your ability to handle a hands-on post at a busy clinic.

Service Industry:

“Having spent eight years in the food and beverage industry, I progressed from head waiter to front of house manager four years ago. I’ve held so many posts in the industry, from runner to waiter to head waiter to manager, but my dedication to quality service has never changed. I believe in knowing my product and process inside and out, uplifting my team members and demonstrating focused positivity throughout. It’s easy to fall into the temper trap when things get busy, but I prefer to knuckle down, smile and get it done. I want my customers to come back for more!”

This works because: This answer makes an impact because of how your personality shines through. The service industry is incredibly stressful, but it’s refreshing to know that you have a proactive, positive attitude to stressful situations, backed up with strong product knowledge and professionalism.

“I’m an accredited software engineer and systems integrator with more than ten years of active development experience. I’m proficient in Ruby, Python, Java, C++ and a wide range of associated languages and frameworks. I’m a team player, and I love bouncing ideas off my colleagues and engaging with diverse perspectives. I like to stay abreast of the latest tech and I’m wildly competitive when it comes to troubleshooting. I’ve also got an eye for detail and clean design and I’m dedicated to delivering a seamless, streamlined experience to the end-user.”

This works because: From this answer, it’s clear that you’re accredited and boast a diversified programming portfolio with plenty of experience in the field. It’s noted that you’re a team player, as teamwork is essential when developing and managing systems for a busy tech enterprise. And your attitude to problem solving, as being competitive will help you find fast and effective solutions.

“I’ve been a retail cosmetic artist and sales assistant for six years and I’m passionate about making clients feel utterly gorgeous! I have a strong knowledge of retail processes, including stock-take, merchandising and sales targeting. If I have to describe my stand-out quality it’s that I love to build up the team, make my colleagues smile and get them motivated to break targets for our department. Above all though, the customer comes first and I’m dedicated to building brand and store loyalty in the customer.”

  This works because: From this answer, it’s obvious you know retail like the back of your hand and that you take pride in breaking targets and boosting the team morale. Your positivity shines through, and you highlight your passion for making clients feel special.

Practice Your Answer Before the Interview

As a final tip – make sure you go practice everything you plan on saying when the interviewer asks, “what can you tell me about yourself?” Nothing comes out perfect the first time, and you don’t want to appear nervous and stumble when they ask.  So I’d recommend grabbing a piece of paper and writing down the key points you want to talk about in your answer. I like to write them in bullet format. Then, use your smartphone’s voice recorder app to record a few practice answers and see how you sound. Don’t look at your notes as you give your answer. The idea is to try to remember what you want to talk about without reading off the paper. Then glance at the paper AFTER to make sure you covered everything. Keep practicing until you can give a smooth answer without forgetting anything important.

Note: If you’re having a phone interview , you can use notes/bullet points to help guide you through your answer. Nobody can see you on the phone, so take advantage!

Biron Clark

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Top 50 Internship Interview Questions (Example Answers Included)

Mike Simpson 0 Comments

essay interview questions and answers

By Mike Simpson

Updated 6/13/2022.

essay interview questions and answers

Everyone knows that the best way to get the job of your dreams is to have a resume that highlights and showcases relevant experience . And for college students , the simplest way to get some much-needed experience is with an internship.

Like any other job, you’ll face off against internship interview questions when you try to land a career-boosting position. If you want to make sure that you’re ready for what lies ahead, here’s what you need to know about the world of internships and intern interview questions.

What Is an Internship?

According to the University of Maryland , “an internship is a professional learning experience that offers meaningful, practical work related to a student’s field of study or career interest.” Overall, that sums it up pretty well.

Essentially, an internship is an opportunity for a student or trainee to gain valuable career experience by working within an organization, either for pay or for educational credit. Internships are an excellent way for you to gain real-world experience, network with potential future coworkers and managers, and build your resume, laying the groundwork for your career.

On top of that, many hiring managers use internships to gauge employment potential. This means you want to make sure that you are ready to nail those internship interview questions to score that invaluable experience.

Top 5 Internship Interview Question Tips

Here are our top 5 tips for preparing for an internship interview and how to answer intern interview questions:

1. Study Guide

As a student (or a recent student), this should be the easiest part of the whole process. Pretend your internship interview is a test and study ahead of time. That means making sure you have a proper resume prepared that highlights your related skills and education, as well as your accomplishments.

You also want to make sure you have done your research into the company, not only to verify that the internship being offered is legitimate but also to make sure that the company and the opportunity align with your long-term goals.

2. STAR Student

Speaking of your education and accomplishments, make sure you are prepared to talk about them and have stories ready that will help illustrate your strengths as a potential intern.

Really read the requirements for the internship carefully and then go through your own personal experiences, education, and skills and find examples that illustrate how you can fill those requirements. Finally, take those examples and craft them into great stories by using the STAR method .

3. Head of the Class

During an interview, you may have as little as 5 minutes to make a good impression. Make sure you’re ready by having business-appropriate interview clothes, showing up early, and being an enthusiastic participant in the interview process.

If you have questions about what to wear to a job interview, check out our blog article .

4. The 3 Rs

Rehearse, relax, and rhythm: the three Rs of the internship interview.

Rehearse : The best way to burn through interview nerves is to practice before the actual big day. Take the example questions from this article and have a friend, family member, or counselor conduct a mock interview (or two) before the big day.

Relax : Interviews can be nerve-wracking, and sometimes stress can make it hard to listen to those around us! Do your best to wrangle those nerves and take the time to really hear what the interviewer is saying. You need to ensure you understand exactly what they’re asking, allowing you to provide solid answers. Plus, you’ll get things during the interview like their names and informational tidbits that could help you target your answers.

Rhythm : When we say rhythm, we’re not talking about music or dancing, but about the natural rhythm of conversation. Make sure when you’re speaking clearly and calmly. Pausing between when the question is asked and starting your answer is ok, especially if it means you’re really thinking about the answer. An interviewer is going to be more impressed with an intern who takes a minute to give a thoughtful answer than an intern who fires off a barrage of information before they’ve even had a chance to finish the question entirely.

5. Teacher’s Pet

Last impressions are just as important as first impressions. Remember, as you’re wrapping up your interview, close it out on a strong note. This means making sure you’re asking your own questions (don’t worry, we’ll get to those in a bit).

Also we we wanted to let you know that we created an amazing free cheat sheet that will give you word-for-word answers for some of the toughest interview questions you are going to face in your upcoming interview. After all, hiring managers will often ask you more generalized interview questions!

Click below to get your free PDF now:

Get Our Job Interview Questions & Answers Cheat Sheet!

FREE BONUS PDF CHEAT SHEET: Get our " Job Interview Questions & Answers PDF Cheat Sheet " that gives you " word-word sample answers to the most common job interview questions you'll face at your next interview .


5 Common Internship Interview Questions With Sample Answers

Now let’s focus on the potential questions you might be asked in an internship interview. Be prepared for a wide range of types of questions, ranging from behavioral to traditional and even some situational questions.

Along with showcasing a few different kinds of questions, we’ll give you example answers you can use to help guide your own. Here are five internship interview questions that you might face, along with a great example answer for each question:

1. What attracted you to your chosen field?


“I was initially attracted to my major, statistics, because I’ve long had a talent for math. However, statistics allows me to take that further. I can use mathematics to understand various aspects of the world around me, which I find fascinating. It’s a way to reveal patterns that aren’t always clear to the casual observer, allowing me to use math to make insightful recommendations or champion change that can make a real difference.”

2. What are you most proud of?

“One thing that I’m particularly proud of was being selected as the valedictorian for my high school. I worked hard to achieve my grades, and I think that diligence will continue to serve me well throughout my life. I learned the value of hard work, discipline, and planning. Plus, it was only possible not only through my efforts but learning to work effectively on a team for group assignments, which I think was a critical lesson that will help me thrive in the workforce.”

3. How do you think an internship will help you academically? What about professionally?

“Academically, I believe an internship will give me a deeper understanding of how to apply the knowledge I gather to real-world scenarios. It’ll help me see the difference between the classroom experience and what it’s like to engage as a member of the workforce.
“Professionally, an internship lets me build a strong foundation. I’ll acquire new capabilities that will serve me well moving forward. Plus, it’ll help me keep realistic expectations while teaching me how to provide an employer with exceptional value, both of which can help me launch a successful career.”

4. What one word do you think describes you best?

“If I had to pick one word, I believe ‘responsible’ is the best fit. I’m a meticulous and organized person who is diligent about meeting my commitments. I understand the importance of accountability, particularly when it comes to meeting the expectations of others who are impacted by my work. As a result, I’ve always aimed to be responsible, not just as a student, but as a person.”

5. Tell me about a time when you stepped up.

“During a team project in one of my classes, one of the group members had a family emergency that pulled them away from their studies. Since we divided the work equally among the team members, that meant there was a portion that suddenly wasn’t being handled.
“I decided to find the solution to our problem. I reached out to other group members to assess where we all stood with our own portion of the work. Then, I helped distribute the remaining tasks, including assigning the largest segment to myself. While it meant doing more work, it was worthwhile, as we ultimately scored a 98 out of 100 on the assignment.”

45 More Intern Interview Questions You Should Prepare For

  • Why should we consider you for this internship?
  • Have you ever interned before? If so, describe your experiences.
  • What are your long-term goals?
  • What qualities will you bring to this internship that other candidates might not?
  • Tell me a little about yourself.
  • What are your expectations for your work hours? Is your schedule flexible?
  • What do you hope to get out of this internship?
  • Do you have any hobbies, and if so, can you describe how you think they could assist you in this internship?
  • Which of your accomplishments are you most proud of, and why?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • What are your expectations for the role we are discussing today?
  • Why are you applying for this internship?
  • Do your current studies align with the type of work we do? Do you see a future in this industry, and if so, in what role?
  • How do you organize your time and prioritize tasks during a busy day?
  • Are you comfortable answering and having conversations on the telephone? And what is your experience with multi-line phone systems?
  • What do you like/dislike the most about being an intern?
  • What do you plan to do after you graduate?
  • What would you say are the best skills to have in order to be successful as an intern?
  • What are your strengths, and how will you best utilize them for this internship?
  • What are your weaknesses, and what will you do to ensure they don’t affect this internship negatively?
  • Describe a time that you took a leadership role in completing a task.
  • Tell me about a conflict that you’ve had with someone you were working closely with and how you resolved it.
  • Do you prefer to work independently or in a group setting?
  • Can you describe to me any major trends that our industry has been going through over the last 3-5 years?
  • How would your classmates or past work colleagues describe you?
  • What will you bring to the table that will have the biggest impact during your internship?
  • What level of expertise do you have with traditional office software programs (i.e., Microsoft Office/Excel/PowerPoint, Slack, Salesforce, etc.)?
  • How do you handle stress? Has it been a problem for you in the past?
  • Describe a time when you had some adversity in life and what you did to overcome it.
  • Why are manhole covers round and not square or some other shape?
  • During team projects, what role do you usually fill?
  • Can you describe your ideal workplace culture?
  • What management style best meets your needs?
  • Share an example of a time when you motivated others.
  • Tell me about a time you failed.
  • If you didn’t understand how to handle a task, what would you do?
  • Why did you choose this specific college and program?
  • How would you describe your dream job?
  • What courses have you taken that apply directly to this role?
  • If you weren’t studying your current major, what degree would you pursue instead?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • Describe your previous work or volunteering experience?
  • Do you have any expectations for this internship?
  • Tell me about a time when you made a mistake. What did you learn from that experience?

Questions to Ask in an Internship Interview

Now that you’ve answered all their questions, you’ll usually get a chance to ask a few of your own. It’s absolutely appropriate for you to ask your own questions, and in many ways, it’s strongly encouraged.

An intern who asks questions is an intern who truly cares about the position and is one who is more likely to get hired. Plus, asking questions is a great opportunity for you to learn more about the internship and the company overall.

To help get you started, here are ten example questions you can ask your hiring manager:

  • If hired for this internship, what would my duties and responsibilities be?
  • What are your expectations for me in this internship in relation to my school and homework requirements?
  • How exactly will my performance be evaluated?
  • Who will I be working with if I’m selected for this internship?
  • How often do you hire former interns?
  • How many hours per week will the selected intern work?
  • Can you describe the company’s culture?
  • How would you describe the team dynamic?
  • Will I be working with other interns along with employees?
  • After interning here, what have past interns moved on to?

Putting It All Together

Just remember, an internship today is a stepping stone to a career. Treat each internship opportunity like a potential job and prepare as much as you can ahead of time so you can shine during your interview. When you answer internship interview questions, highlight your experiences and your skills, and focus on your accomplishments and the value you bring to the internship. Be calm, be collected, and be yourself.

FREE : Job Interview Questions & Answers PDF Cheat Sheet!

Download our " Job Interview Questions & Answers PDF Cheat Sheet " that gives you word-for-word sample answers to some of the most common interview questions including:

  • What Is Your Greatest Weakness?
  • What Is Your Greatest Strength?
  • Tell Me About Yourself
  • Why Should We Hire You?

Click Here To Get The Job Interview Questions & Answers Cheat Sheet

essay interview questions and answers

Co-Founder and CEO of Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at

His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes , Entrepreneur , CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan , Penn State , Northeastern and others.

Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page .

About The Author

Mike simpson.

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Co-Founder and CEO of Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes , Entrepreneur , CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan , Penn State , Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page .

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How to Write a Good Answer to Exam Essay Questions

Last Updated: March 17, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Tristen Bonacci . Tristen Bonacci is a Licensed English Teacher with more than 20 years of experience. Tristen has taught in both the United States and overseas. She specializes in teaching in a secondary education environment and sharing wisdom with others, no matter the environment. Tristen holds a BA in English Literature from The University of Colorado and an MEd from The University of Phoenix. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 644,460 times.

Answering essay questions on an exam can be difficult and stressful, which can make it hard to provide a good answer. However, you can improve your ability to answer essay questions by learning how to understand the questions, form an answer, and stay focused. Developing your ability to give excellent answers on essay exams will take time and effort, but you can learn some good essay question practices and start improving your answers.

Understanding the Question

Step 1 Read the question carefully.

  • Analyze: Explain the what, where, who, when, why, and how. Include pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses, etc.
  • Compare: Discuss the similarities and differences between two or more things. Don't forget to explain why the comparison is useful.
  • Contrast: Discuss how two or more things are different or distinguish between them. Don't forget to explain why the contrast is useful.
  • Define: State what something means, does, achieves, etc.
  • Describe: List characteristics or traits of something. You may also need to summarize something, such as an essay prompt that asks "Describe the major events that led to the American Revolution."
  • Discuss: This is more analytical. You usually begin by describing something and then present arguments for or against it. You may need to analyze the advantages or disadvantages of your subject.
  • Evaluate: Offer the pros and cons, positives and negatives for a subject. You may be asked to evaluate a statement for logical support, or evaluate an argument for weaknesses.
  • Explain: Explain why or how something happened, or justify your position on something.
  • Prove: Usually reserved for more scientific or objective essays. You may be asked to include evidence and research to build a case for a specific position or set of hypotheses.
  • Summarize: Usually, this means to list the major ideas or themes of a subject. It could also ask you to present the main ideas in order to then fully discuss them. Most essay questions will not ask for pure summary without anything else.

Step 3 Ask questions if anything is unclear.

  • Raise your hand and wait for your teacher to come over to you or approach your teacher’s desk to ask your question. This way you will be less likely to disrupt other test takers.

Forming Your Response

Step 1 Follow the instructions.

  • Take a moment to consider your organization before you start writing your answer. What information should come first, second, third, etc.?
  • In many cases, the traditional 5-paragraph essay structure works well. Start with an introductory paragraph, use 3 paragraphs in the body of the article to explain different points, and finish with a concluding paragraph.
  • It can also be really helpful to draft a quick outline of your essay before you start writing.

Step 3 Choose relevant facts and figures to include.

  • You may want to make a list of facts and figures that you want to include in your essay answer. That way you can refer to this list as you write your answer.
  • It's best to write down all the important key topics or ideas before you get started composing your answer. That way, you can check back to make sure you haven't missed anything.

Step 4 Begin your answer by rephrasing the essay question as a statement.

  • For example, imagine that your essay question asks: "Should the FIFA World Cup be awarded to countries with human rights violations? Explain and support your answer."
  • You might restate this as "Countries with human rights violations should not be awarded the FIFA World Cup because this rewards a nation's poor treatment of its citizens." This will be the thesis that you support with examples and explanation.

Step 5 Make sure that your answer has a clear point.

  • For example, whether you argue that the FIFA World Cup should or should not be awarded to countries with human rights violations, you will want to address the opposing side's argument. However, it needs to be clear where your essay stands about the matter.
  • Often, essay questions end up saying things along the lines of "There are many similarities and differences between X and Y." This does not offer a clear position and can result in a bad grade.

Step 6 Pay attention to your grammar and punctuation.

  • If you are required to write your answer by hand, then take care to make your writing legible and neat. Some professors may deduct points if they cannot read what you have written.

Staying Calm and Focused

Step 1 Stop and take a deep breath if you get too anxious.

  • If you get to a point during the exam where you feel too anxious to focus, put down your pencil (or take your hands off of the keyboard), close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Stretch your arms and imagine that you are somewhere pleasant for a few moments. When you have completed this brief exercise, open up your eyes and resume the exam.

Step 2 Use your time wisely.

  • For example, if the exam period is one hour long and you have to answer three questions in that time frame, then you should plan to spend no more than 20 minutes on each question.
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Step 3 Write as quickly as you can.

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  • Try to allow yourself enough time to go back and tighten up connections between your points. A few well-placed transitions can really bump up your grade.

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20 Good Questions to Ask in an Interview

When interviewing with a potential employer, the questions you ask are just as important as the answers you give.

Alexandria Jacobson

In a job interview , there are few things worse than responding to an interviewer’s final question, “Do you have anything to ask me?” by saying “No, I’m all set.”

According to Sara Hutchison, CEO and executive career consultant at Get Your Best Resume , not coming prepared with questions will “kill the tone” — even if it was a great interview up to that point.

“The questions you asked show whether or not you did research,” Hutchison said. “It shows that you’re genuinely interested in this organization or in the technologies.” 

Best Questions to Ask in an Interview

  • What do you do to foster an inclusive team?
  • What does career growth for this role look like? 
  • How does your company support its employees?
  • Why is this position open now?
  • What tools and platforms do your teams work with?
  • If you left this company, what is the biggest thing you would miss?
  • What is the biggest challenge facing this team right now?
  • How is performance rewarded?
  • How does your company nurture innovation?

To help you leave a positive impression in your next interview, we asked HR leaders and career advisers to provide the best types of questions to ask during a job interview. It might just be the difference between securing an offer and not.

Questions About Management and Leadership

1. what do you do to foster an inclusive team  .

A broader related question could be, “What is your company doing to encourage  workplace diversity ?”

When Ji Park, a software developer at LaunchPad Lab , first applied to work there, it was important to her to work for a company that emphasized diversity. She asked her interviewer about diversity statistics at the company, and found out that the team was mostly made up of white men, but her interviewer also mentioned that they were making efforts to make their team more inclusive . “In a case like that, I think it’s important to keep asking, ‘What are those efforts? What plans do you have to hire more diverse candidates?’” she said. 

Being intentional with your questions pushes companies to be accountable and can get them to better focus on issues like diversity and inclusion that often get overlooked.

2. What Are the Strengths and Weaknesses of the Company’s Leadership?

It’s important to have a good understanding of how the company’s leadership works because their actions ultimately affect employees at all levels of the organization. Dawid Wiacek, career and interview coach and founder of  The Career Fixer , said related questions you can ask are “How long has the leadership been in place?” “What’s their leadership style ?” “What are they really great at?” “What are their gaps?” 

“You’ll want to understand the management style of the person who can make your life great or a miserable living hell,” Wiacek said.

3. How Do You Practice and Implement Your Company’s Values?

This question can provide a closer look at how authentic company executives are in practicing what the business preaches. It also shows how effective leaders and managers are in getting employees to buy into a  company culture and abide by specific values. Strong, positive leadership by leaders at various levels of an organization is necessary for a company to have a thriving culture that everyone believes in.

4. What Excites You About the Company’s Direction? 

It’s much easier to find purpose and growth at a company where leaders possess a clear vision for where they want to take the business moving forward. Asking about the company’s direction can lead to key intel on whether a company has goals and whether these goals align with yours.

More on Interview Questions How to Use the STAR Interview Method to Land a Job

Questions About Employee Development and Job Growth

5. what does career growth in this role look like.

This question will help you determine if there are opportunities for you to grow at this company and help you envision how the role fits into your  career path . Plus, it shows that you are excited about the potential of sticking with a company for years to come.

“When people ask those questions in interviews, it suggests that they want to stay at this company in the long term, that they’re not just looking at this as a waystation, and that’s really appealing to employers,” said Erin Brown, associate director of graduate student career services at UCLA.

6. How Does the Company Invest in Training and Development?

This question will give you a sense of whether or not the company cares about nurturing its talent and growing existing employees’ skills. Another related question is, “What is manager coaching and training like?” This question is good to ask, even if you’re not pursuing a managerial role. 

“If people are like, ‘I don’t know what happens there,’ then that makes it clear the company doesn’t  invest in management , which is so critical to everyone’s experience,” said Emily Connery, senior director of people and talent at people analytics platform ChartHop . 

7. How Does Your Company Support Its Employees?

At any job, you’re going to run into challenges or snags that you’ll need help overcoming. Before joining a new company, you want to be positive that they care about their employees and will support you when things get tough.

When applying to jobs in the middle of the pandemic, Park knew that jumping into a new role while remote would be tricky. She wanted to make sure that whatever company she joined would provide her with adequate support to make the transition .

“In my interview I made sure to ask what resources the company provided to make people feel well-adjusted,” Park said. “I wanted to know that they were aware of the common challenges teammates might face and were ready to help them out.”

8. What’s the Typical Career Path for Employees in This Role?

This is a great question to explore what kind of movement is possible within a company. Perhaps employees who thrive in a role follow a specific career track within their department and receive promotions . Or maybe they’ve moved laterally to other departments, applying transferable skills to a variety of roles. 

You could also follow this up by asking what the most popular paths are that employees follow within a department. It’s a promising sign if an interviewer not only provides a detailed explanation of what employees are doing now, but also lays out a process for how the company has helped employees get to their current positions.

More on Interview Questions How to Answer ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ In a Job Interview

Questions About the Job Role

9. why is this position open now  .

While there’s a risk that this question could put the interviewer on the defensive if the last person in the role left on bad terms, asking this question can help you understand important information about the team. You could ask, “Is the role brand-new, and if so, what prompted its creation?” If you’re pursuing an established role, you might want to know how many people have held the position lately. If there’s been a revolving door of people in the role and high turnover on the team, that might be a red flag.

You could even ask, “Where did the previous person in the role go? Did they stay at the company and climb up?” Wiacek said.

10. What’s a Non-Obvious Skill That Would Make Someone a Great Fit for This Role?

This is a question that can help you stand out in a later-stage interview. You’re ultimately asking the interviewer what would be the skills that their dream candidate would have. Maybe you actually have this skill, and this presents an opportunity to talk about it. Or, if you don’t have that skill and are interested in learning , you could talk about ways you would be willing to acquire it. 

11. What Tools and Platforms Do Your Teams Work With?

If you’re applying for a software development or data science role, you’ll likely be expected to work with a variety of technology stacks, and some might be unfamiliar. Ask about what platforms or  tools you’ll need to use as a part of your role and find out what kind of training resources they offer to help you learn new technologies .

“Asking what value the customers will get from what we build shows that you’re not just myopically thinking about how to write a line of Python or build a machine learning model,” said David Fellows, chief digital officer at analytics company Acuity Knowledge Partners . “You’re actually thinking about providing solutions that people can use.”

Typically, don’t save this question until the end of the interview process, and don’t pose the question to the recruiter or someone not on the technical side . 

12. What Is the 90-Day Plan for This Role?

To understand what roadmap and support exist for a certain role, a helpful question to ask is, “What is the  90-day plan for this role?”

“It should be clear. They should really understand what the first 90 days should look like, and if it’s not, I think that tells you a lot about the level of organization,” Connery said.

Ultimately, you could ask the more common but important questions like, “How will the success of this candidate be measured?” 

“It helps you to kind of have goals for yourself for those first three to six months,” Hutchison said. “It gives them an idea of what their expectations are and how much guidance you’re going to have before they let you on your own.”

More on Interview Questions The Best Way to Answer ‘Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?’

Questions About the Company and Company Culture

13. if you left this company, what would you miss the most.

This is a way to flip around the question that candidates often hear, “ Why do you want to work at this company? ” You want to understand the best parts of the company and why employees stay. 

“This gets the person talking and loosens them up and engages them on a different level, rather than just talking about the sometimes dull job description,” Wiacek said. “It humanizes the interview experience.”

14. What Surprised You About Working at This Company?

This can elicit a positive or negative answer, but either way, it will give you important insight about the  workplace culture and company dynamics.

“It’s a surprising question and can help you be more memorable as a candidate and can help you stand out against those who ask boring questions or don’t engage the interviewer,” Wiacek said.

15. What Is the Biggest Challenge Facing This Team Right Now?

Every company has areas for improvement, and this helps you start to understand what challenges you might encounter should you be offered the role.

Stacy Ulery, assistant director for career education and engagement at UCLA Career Center, said that asking this question allows you an opportunity to showcase your problem-solving skills or talk about another similar project you worked on.

“It’s another opportunity for you first to demonstrate that you’ve done your research, that you understand the industry, you understand the company’s place in the marketplace but also what can you bring to the table to help them,” she said. 

If you’ve done advanced research or learned about a challenge in a previous interview, Lily Valentin, head of operations for North America at job search engine  Adzuna , suggests presenting a potential solution to the company’s problem.

“It’s most important to hear questions from a job seeker that really embeds themselves in the business and the business framework,” she said.

16. How Does This Company Handle Failure?

The answer to this question will tell you a lot about a company’s resiliency and how it supports people when mistakes and shortcomings inevitably happen. It’ll be helpful to learn what systems and tools of support the company offers employees to ensure success. Do you get mentorship and coaching in these instances? 

“Use this question wisely. It may not be appropriate for Type-A companies or interviewers. But if you have succeeded in previous roles and have every reason to believe you’ll give 100 percent effort in the new role, then it’s a fair question to ask of the employer,” Wiacek said. “For some of my clients, they only want to work for companies that invest in their people, and actually put their money where their mouth is.”

17. How Do You Think This Company Stacks Up Against Your Direct Competition?

This question will give you a sense of how the company perceives itself and how it is thinking about maintaining a competitive advantage against other players in the industry. 

“A weak answer might give you pause. A good answer will give you confidence that the company is proactive, transparent, honest, prepared,” Wiacek said. “You need to grill the company as much as they want to grill you.”

18. Can You Tell Me About How Communication Happens Here? 

Does the company host all-hands meetings? How often should you expect one-on-one meetings with your supervisor? Are there team meetings? You should get answers to these questions by asking about  communication . 

Another communication question you could ask is, “How does the company interact with the executive team?”

“That could be very telling in terms of how the executive team shows up. Are they like Oz behind the curtains, or are they really a part of the teams?” Connery said.

It is also helpful to learn how different teams communicate with each other, especially if you’re in a highly collaborative role. Wiacek said many of his clients in the tech industry cite challenges in communication between tech teams and nontechnical departments, so it’s a good idea to learn how the company works through communication challenges like that. 

19. How Is Performance Rewarded?

Some companies might reward excellent performance with bonuses, while others focus more on  awards or recognition . If a company doesn’t place a high value on feedback or acknowledge exceptional work at all, you could end up frustrated in your role.

“People might ask questions more about compensation or promotions but not necessarily, ‘How is performance rewarded?’ I think if people stumble in answering that question, it might not be an environment where people feel recognized,” Connery said. 

Should you be offered the role and be looking at a promotion with the company down the road, it would be helpful to have information at the start of your tenure about how leveling is determined for roles and how promotion decisions are made , so feel free to ask about that during the interview process as well.

20. How Does Your Company Plan to Keep Innovating?

Your interviewer might be excited to answer a question about how the company is innovating . This question will help you understand how the company feels about new ideas, new technologies and adapting in the ever-changing tech world.

It’s also important to understand what the vision for the company is and how the company plans to innovate for the future. Kimberly Terrill, associate director for career education and development at UCLA, suggests asking questions about how the company’s mission and focus might change in the future. What are the hopes and aspirations for the company? 

“Tech changes so quickly. Even five years is a long time in tech,” she said. 

Ask All the Logistical Questions Early

While it might seem poor form to ask about salary range in an early interview, experts are now saying it’s best to gather all of the important basic information right away. This saves everyone time if plans suddenly change or the expectations for compensation and benefits don’t align. These can be a part of the questions you ask during the interview, too. 

Make sure you have answers to the following questions from interviewers before proceeding with future interviews:

  • How many interviews are there going to be? 
  • When are you expecting to have this role filled by? 
  • What is the salary range?
  • What are the benefits offered?
  • How is the title for this role determined? 
  • What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this role?
  • How many hours a week would be spent working on certain tasks?

How Do I Come Up With Good Questions?  

Do your homework and learn about the company ahead of time, so you can get answers that are truly useful to you should you be  faced with deciding whether or not to accept the job offer . Don’t ask questions you already know the answers to or could easily find from a Google search — your questions need to be well-thought-out and specific to the company and role you’re pursuing.

“I always do a ton of research into companies that I’m interviewing with, gathering as much as I can from their website and blog posts,” said Park. “I want to get a sense of the kind of people they hire. That usually gives me an idea of questions I want to ask.”

How Many Questions Should I Ask?

Typically, you should ask between two and five questions at every interview. You may not get a chance to ask them all, but it’s better to come prepared.

“It is a huge red flag whenever a job seeker comes into an interview and has no questions,” Valentin said. “It really doesn’t matter at what stage in the interview process you are.”

Frequently Asked Questions

What are common questions to ask in an interview.

Common questions to ask in an interview include “Why is this position open now?” “What is unique about your company’s culture?” and “What’s the biggest pain point your team is facing right now?”

How many questions to ask at the end of an interview?

It’s best to prepare two to five questions to ask at the end of an interview, with the expectation that the recruiter may not have time to answer all of them.

An earlier version of this story was written by Sunny Betz.

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