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Interview Questions

Traditional Interview Questions
  • Describe your educational background.
    • Highlight the parts of your education most relevant to the job opportunity.
  • Why did you choose Walden University?
    • Do your homework (e.g., Walden’s social change mission, emphasis on scholarly research and practical application, rigorous curriculum, faculty, etc.).   Refer to the guide below for additional talking points:
       Benefits of Being a Walden Student
  • What were your major achievements in your past jobs?
    • Choose achievements that are most closely related to the challenges of the job you are seeking.  Describe your achievements in terms of a challenge you addressed, your action, and the specific results.
  • Which job have you enjoyed most/least and why?
    • Keep your answers positive.  Emphasize what you learned from the job you enjoyed least.
  • Have you ever been fired?  Why?
    • If you have been fired, avoid the temptation to criticize your former employer.  Stay objective and positive.  If it was not the right fit, state what you learned from the experience.  Be sure to provide positive references who can speak to your abilities and accomplishments in other positions.
  • Why are you interested in this position?
    • Do substantial research so that you can make a convincing case for your interest in this specific employer and position.
  • What is your ideal job? 
    • Your interviewers are interested in whether your ideal job shares common ground with their position, so tie your ideal job back to their opportunity.
  • What are your short/long term career goals?
    • The employer is wondering if your long-term goals fit with the organization.  It is acceptable to have a general long-term goal, such as "to master this position, to build a stronger professional network in my field, and to get an article published."
  • Why should I hire you over other candidates?
    • Summarize three relevant qualifications that make you stand out from the crowd.
  • Tell me about yourself.
    • Briefly explain your educational and professional background relevant to the position.  You may also illustrate two or three professional accomplishments.
  • What is your major strength/weakness?
    • Typically, a desirable job is one that plays to your major strength and does not often test your major weakness.  Share a weakness that is not detrimental to successfully carrying out the job, and state how you have improved in that area (e.g., through taking courses or joining Toastmasters).  If your major weakness will be tested quite often in this job, you may want to consider whether it is the right opportunity.   
  • What causes you to lose your temper?
    • Leading negative questions are challenging.  One strategy is to give an example of an aggravating situation and how you dealt with it in a calm, constructive manner.  Another strategy is to state how you handled a situation, what you learned, and how you would handle it differently next time.  In other words, always pull something positive--either how you acted or what you learned--out of a negative.
  • How do you cope with working under pressure and meeting tight deadlines?
    • State the best way you diffuse stress and manage your time.
  • Tell me about your current boss.  What was the strongest compliment you've received from him/her?  What was the strongest criticism?
    • Make your description of your boss positive. It may be easy to think of a compliment, but be sure to include criticism also, sharing how you used it to improve your performance.  If you do not mention criticism, the employer will wonder if you are a coachable employee open to feedback from others.  
  • What is your minimum salary?
    • It is best to delay discussion of salary and benefits until you have an actual job offer; you will be the desired candidate and will have the greatest bargaining power.  However, be prepared for this question earlier.  If the salary was not stated when the job was advertised, research salary information before your interview.  Try to obtain the company’s pay scale, the fair market value for the position, the industry average, and your region’s average.  Research salary information using
Behavioral Interview Questions

A behavior-based interview question seeks to discover past behavior, as it is the best predictor of future behavior.  Common questions are “tell me a time you had to work as a part of a team,” or “give me an example when you made a significant contribution to an employer.” 

Behavior-based questions may ask you to describe a situation when you

  • demonstrated leadership
  • solved a problem
  • made a good/poor decision
  • handled change in your organization
  • handled criticism
  • worked as part of a team
  • met/missed a deadline
  • disagreed with a decision made by your supervisor or upper management

For additional strategies to prepare for behavioral interviews, watch the 15-minute Preparing for Behavioral Interviews video from Beyond B-School.

Illegal Interview Questions

You should never be asked personal questions about your age, religion, political beliefs, or personal life. If asked an inappropriate question, do not overreact; the interviewer may not realize that the questions are inappropriate or illegal.  You can respond by asking the interviewer to restate the question.  Otherwise simply state that you are uncomfortable answering that question.

Salary Questions

You want to be prepared to discuss salary requirements, but let the employer bring up the subject. If the employer asks for your required salary, keep in mind that naming a figure early in the process will make it difficult to renegotiate the figure later. There are several ways you can answer this question.  You can state the salary is negotiable and you would like to consider the salary in the context of the job's benefits package and promotion potential.  You can then ask for the salary range for someone with your qualifications.  If you are pressed for a figure, it is best to state that you have researched the fair market value for the position and give a salary range. 

Preparing for Interviews


Questions to Ask When Invited For an Interview

When contacted for an interview, gather the names and titles of your interviewers, find out how long the interview will last, and learn whether additional documents are needed. Ask for any additional information about the job, such as a more detailed job description.

Research to Prepare for Your Interview

To prepare for your interview, research the job and employer to analyze how your specific qualifications best meet the employer’s needs. The goal is to become an expert regarding the following: 

  • The employing organization, including its mission, size, culture, strengths and weaknesses, competitors, and any available information on your interviewers.
  • Trends in your career field.
  • The duties and challenges of the job and its relevance to the employer's mission.

Once you gain substantial knowledge in these areas, you will be well-equipped to showcase how you can add value to the organization.  In other words, you will demonstrate how your education, experience, and technical and interpersonal skills make you the best candidate to meet the employer's specific hiring needs.

Additional Research Tips

Start with the employer’s website to learn about their mission, goals, products, services, history, culture, financial status, organizational structure, competitors/peers, and locations.

Visit the employer’s LinkedIn page and search for people you may be connected to within the organization.

Research professional associations and read journal and newspaper articles in your field to obtain more detailed information.

Additionally, you may uncover items of interest by searching the employer's name on the sites below, which feature information on the corporate, nonprofit, and federal, state, and local government sectors:

Business Week
Guidestar (Nonprofits)
Library of Congress (State and Local Government Information)
Newspapers of the World - Newslink
US Government Agencies


Practice Common Interview Questions

The Interview Prep module, included in the SkillsFirst system, is a great resource with over 12,000 sample interview questions for you to practice answering, along with a mock interview coach for guidance.  Log into the SkillsFirst system using your Walden credentials to start practicing your interviewing skills. 

Prepare Questions for the Interviewer

As much as the interviewer is making sure you are the right fit, be sure to ask questions to learn whether this employer is the right fit for you.


Dress Appropriately

Choose an outfit that is professional, reflects your brand and personality, and fits with the culture of the company. This outfit should make you feel confident and comfortable while discussing your qualifications. Consider these suggestions when deciding on your attire, as they may vary by profession or cultural background.

Business formal attire options:

  • A pant or skirt suit with a matching blazer and a blouse or;
  • A suit with matching blazer and a solid dress shirt with a complementing tie. Dark, solid colors are recommended for the suit.

Business casual attire options:

  • Even if the company allows jeans, wear a pair of dress pants with a blouse or dress shirt, sweater, or blazer.

What to Bring to the Interview

Display strong organizational skills during your interview by bringing a folder or hard portfolio that includes resume copies, references, paper, and a pen.

Interviewing Best Practices

Communicate Your Value

Face-to-face Interviews

If your initial interview is face-to-face, the interviewer will ask basic questions to gauge your fit for the position.  You want to display strong communication and interpersonal skills.  To prepare, research the company and person interviewing you, familiarize yourself with the job description, and review common interview questions.

Highlight Your Qualifications

Review the job announcement and take note of the qualifications sought.  Brainstorm and list all parts of your background that relate to the employer's ideal candidate.  Compile relevant stories about your accomplishments that relate to the employer's specific qualifications.

The CART Technique

After you formulate relevant stories to highlight your qualifications, be ready to communicate them to the employer.  The CART technique will help you stay on track when answering questions, and ensure your answer is relevant.

C- Challenge.  Reflect on the challenge or situation.

A- Action.  Showcase the action you took.

R- Result.  Highlight the result of your action.

T- Tie-In.  Describe how this situation applies to your future role.

"I developed a consulting practice focused on diversity training and cultural awareness.  My clients included several Fortune 500 companies.  I conducted detailed needs assessments that included interviews with staff at managerial and frontline levels.  The training was highly participative and interactive and included a peer mentoring component to foster strong working relationships among participants.  Six months after the training, a follow-up assessment indicated staff morale was up and productivity had improved by 10%."

Phone Interviews

A phone interview is typically an initial screening to determine if you are a potential fit for the position.  To prepare, research the company and person interviewing you, familiarize yourself with the job description, and review common interview questions.

Prepare a space that is free from interruptions.  Use a land phone line if possible, or make sure your cell phone has strong service.  Have a pen, paper, and copy of your resume nearby. Once it is time for the interview, sit up tall in your chair, have a smile on your face, and answer questions confidently.

Virtual Interviews

A virtual interview uses web-based video conferencing instead of a face-to-face meeting.  Virtual interviews are becoming more popular in our increasingly digital world because they save on time and travel expenses—especially if the job is not near you.

Virtual interviews add extra challenges to the interview process such as managing video technology and conveying a positive image through a virtual space.  To ace your virtual interview, consider the following tips:

Technology and Environment

  • Familiarize yourself with the virtual platform. Whether your interviewer asks you to use Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, or another system, test it before the interview.  You may need to install the software on your computer or familiarize yourself with system functions.
  • Check your computer and internet connectivity.  A reliable internet connection, working microphone and speakers, and functioning webcam will help you avoid technology glitches.  If you are using a headset, make sure it is plugged in and working properly.  Finally, close all other computer applications during your interview.
  • Set your stage.  Find a neutral background and add extra lighting to enhance your video image.  Unclutter your desk, organize your notes, and choose a quiet space to minimize distractions.

Presentation and Delivery

  • Focus on professionalism.  Check how you appear in front of the camera.  For example, multi-color patterns and shiny jewelry may be especially distracting on video.  Instead, select neutral colors and professional business attire.
  • Pay attention to body language. To make a positive impression, look straight at the camera, remember to smile often, and remain still without fidgeting.   

Practice Virtual Interviewing Using SkillsFirst

  • Record virtual interview questions.  Did you know that SkillsFirst offers an Interview Prep module that you can use to practice interviewing skills in a virtual environment?  Use this tool to record your video and review your responses.  Do you come across as confident, knowledgeable, and friendly?  Build your virtual interviewing skills for a flawless delivery.

Refer to these additional virtual interviewing tips by VidRecruiter to learn more.

Panel Interview

To prepare for a panel interview, ask for the names and titles of those interviewing you, and research those people along with the company.  Familiarize yourself with the job description and review common interview questions.  During the interview, the interviewers typically have prepared questions to ask and will go down the list without much conversation in between.  This can be intimidating, so we recommend practicing various interview questions in advance.

Ending the Interview

Questions to Ask the Interviewer

Towards the end of an interview, employers typically ask if a candidate has any questions.  An interview is a valuable two-way exchange of information, so use the time to uncover whether the job opportunity is the right fit for you.  We recommend you develop a list of at least five questions for the employer.

Possible questions to ask the employer: 

  • How is success measured in this position?
  • What resources (time, money, staff, and technology) does one employ in reaching the goals of this position?
  • Where does this position fit within the organization?
  • What qualifications are most important for this role?
  • What long-term expectations do you have for this position?
  • What is the management style of my future supervisor?
  • Who does a person in this position work with and how?
  • What are the toughest challenges the person will face in this position?
  • Tell me about promotions, advancement, and opportunities for professional development.
  • Six months after this person is hired, what three things would you like him/her to have accomplished?

Ending the Interview

As the interview is ending, be sure that you know the next steps.  If they do not provide you with that information, it is acceptable to politely ask about the timeframe for a hiring decision, or what their next steps are.  Thank the interviewers for their time, and express your excitement about the position.

Following Up After the Interview


Follow-up After an Interview

If the employer provided you with a timeframe for a response, do not reach out prior.  If the time frame you were given has passed, you can reach out to the employer.  If an employer stated a deadline for making a hiring decision, wait to contact the organization until after that deadline.  If the deadline has passed, send an e-mail or place a call restating your interest and politely asking for an update on the hiring process.

Thank-you Letters

Thank-you Letters

Send a thank-you letter after an interview, as it shows your gratitude for the interviewer’s time and consideration. This letter should be short and to the point: Reflect on your enthusiasm for the position and briefly highlight some of the major points discussed.  We recommend sending an e-mail, as it will reach the interviewer quickly.

Sample Thank-you Letter

Dear Ms. Walsh:

Thank you for the opportunity to interview for the third grade teaching position at Smith Elementary School.  Your dedication to helping students succeed and grow is apparent in both your mission and in our conversation.  As we discussed, I believe my experience developing a successful standards-based curriculum would allow me to hit the ground running in your open classroom.  Additionally, my work on curriculum changes to facilitate grade transition and my role as track coach demonstrate my commitment to strengthening students’ education experiences both inside and outside the classroom.

I thank you for your consideration and look forward to hearing from you.


Mary Brown

Job Offers

How to Evaluate a Job Offer

Before deciding whether to negotiate salary and benefits, first determine whether you want this job. Ask yourself:

  • Do you have comprehensive knowledge of the job's duties, challenges, work environment, and how you will be evaluated? 
  • Is this role a good match for your knowledge, skills, and abilities?
  • Are your future supervisor's management style and the organizational mission and culture a good fit?
  • Is there upward mobility?  What is the career path for this job?
  • Will you have the necessary resources (e.g., budget and staff) to succeed in the job?
  • What is the financial outlook for the organization?  Will you have reasonable job security?
  • What will your commute require?  What are the work schedule/location options?

If you need more information, schedule an additional discussion with the hiring manager, recruiter, or HR contact.  If you obtain the necessary information and would still like some time to carefully consider the offer, requesting a few days or a weekend is usually acceptable.


Salary Expectations

First, put together a budget and determine your minimum salary figure, taking into account your taxes and expenses.  Second, make a list of your desired benefits.  Benefits, stock options, and other forms of compensation can be worth another 25% to 50% of your salary, so it's important to get the details on vacation and sick leave, health insurance, the retirement plan, and other benefits.

If you are wondering what similar jobs pay in your geographical area or what your salary would equate to in another location, there are websites you can research, including, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and  If the employer asks for your salary requirements, bracket your requirements by providing a salary range based on your research.  For example, "My requirements are within the range of 50K to 65K." That leaves more negotiating room if the figure they offer does not meet your salary requirements.

Negotiate Salary

If the salary offered is insufficient, there are several strategies you can use to negotiate.  If the offer is less than you are currently making in a similar or lesser position, you might state that directly: "I appreciate the offer, but it is lower than my current salary. I need to earn more than my current salary to make a move."

If the salary seems less than the fair market value for the position, summarize your research and what you have learned about the fair market value of the position in your geographical area, and negotiate from there.  The employer may arrive at a figure halfway between their offered salary and the fair market value salary you uncovered, depending on your qualifications and the demand for your skills.

Remember that other benefits count. If a salary is not negotiable, you may be able to obtain monetary awards such as a signing bonus, commission on sales, or a bonus for hitting performance targets.  Other benefits may include vacation days, tuition reimbursement, moving expenses, stock options, or profit sharing. Consider requesting an earlier performance review so your next salary discussion is moved forward.  Finally, if you decide to accept the offer, ask for the terms of the offer in writing.

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