Interviewing Applicants

Examples of Interview Questions

In drafting interview questions, it is important to review the key selection criteria and requirements of the position. The following can be used as a guide in determining what questions to ask.

Click on the competency below to view some example interview questions:

Presentations

It can be useful in senior positions, or positions which involve presentations to clients, for the selection panel to request a short presentation from the candidate on a particular topic (5-10 minutes). This topic is provided to the candidate prior to interview so they have time to prepare, and may involve providing audio visual material. It is important to communicate the aims and the time frame for the presentation to the candidate.

More information about presentations here.

Example Questions

Introductory Questions

  • Why have you applied for the position? What attracted you to this position?
  • What skills do you think you can bring to this position?
  • What would you describe as your strongest/weakest skills?
  • Whatdo you understand the role and responsibilities of the (position title) to be?
  • What do you see as being the key challenges and opportunities of the role in delivering a range of services for the University and Division?
  • What would be your major priorities in the first few weeks in the position?
  • Why are you the best person for the job?
  • What’s the place of the ___ unit within The University of Melbourne? Challenges, priorities? With reference to the University’s strategic plan?
  • Anything to add in support of your application?
  • How does this position fit in with your career plans and do you have a leaning towards a particular area (if role includes various components).
  • Describe an example of when you worked the hardest and felt the greatest sense of achievement?
  • What do you like most about your current position?
  • What do you like least about your current position?

Interpersonal & Liaison Skills

  • As you can see from the Position Description, this position requires liaison with staff at different levels of seniority. Can you describe a time when you have had to liaise with staff at different levels, what the project was, how you handled this, and what the outcome was?
  • What skills do you believe are important for dealing effectively with customers? Describe an example when you displayed/utilised these skills. What was the result?
  • Please describe a situation where you chose to involve others to help solve a problem. What was the problem and how did your action help?
  • How do you go about developing rapport with customers, suppliers, people from other parts of the organisation etc?
  • We all work at times with people whom are hard to get along with. Tell me about a time when you found your self having to work with a particularly difficult person. How did you handle it?
  • Have you ever had to persuade someone to accept your point of view or proposal? Can you give an example of how you did so?
  • What steps do you take to ensure clients comprehend the information provided by you?
  • Can you tell us an example of when you had to provide an instant response which required you to think on your feet in a situation that really counted?
  • In this role, relationships internally and externally will be vital. Describe how you go about establishing and building relationships and if there is any difference in style required for different client groups. Why?
  • In implementing a strategy, some areas of the University may have some strategies in place already, but others will not. Describe some examples of how you have bought buy in from a reluctant group or from a green field site.
  • What experience have you had in tailoring and developing a training program and in the delivery of that program?

Confidentiality

  • The position calls for confidentiality to be maintained at all times. Can you describe a situation when confidentiality was threatened, and how you overcame this? (If not, what measures do you take to maintain confidentiality.)

Finance

  • What experience have you had dealing with assisting in the management of accounts, in particular, monitoring expenditure against budget?
  • What experience do you have with generating financial reports? What do they contain? How often do you have to prepare them? How are they used?
  • Can you describe a situation where you have had to analyse statistical data?
  • Have you ever been in a position of having to reduce expenditure to
  • operate within a constrained financial climate?
  • Describe some examples of strategic planning and budgeting that you have undertaken in previous roles. What is the largest budget you have managed? How do you determine priorities if the allocation of resources is insufficient to carry out all functions in your area of management responsibility?

Attention to Detail

  • Take us through the steps that you use to ensure that your work is as accurate as possible.
  • We’d like to hear about the way you ensure close attention to detail in your work. What sort of checks and balances do you utilise to ensure accuracy in your written work and in data entry?

Computer Literacy

  • What level experience have you had with web design/maintenance? Provide an example of a project you have worked on in relation to web site maintenance (what your specific role was/ task to be completed/ outcome)
  • What computer systems do you / have you dealt with in previous roles? What systems would you use on a day to day basis? Are there any systems you would like further development in?

Information Provision / Advice / Communication

  • Describe a situation where you have had to clarify a rule or policy for a client.
  • Describe a situation where you have had to develop policy information. What was the policy, what was your role, what was developed? (Separate questions)
  • What examples can you offer of instances where you have drafted correspondence, minutes or reports?
  • What are some of the most difficult writing assignments you have been given or have taken on yourself? Explain.
  • Have you ever written any procedures or rules for use by a client/customer or by your own organisation? Explain.
  • What are some of the most important reports you have written? What reactions did they get? How hard were they to write and why?
  • What are some of the biggest or most demanding groups you have made presentations to? How do you alter your presentations to fit the required audience?
  • What are some of the most complex policy or procedure interpretations you have had to explain to other people?
  • What reports have you recently prepared that were the most challenging and why.
  • What are some of the most important reports you have written? What reactions did they get? How hard were they to write and why?
  • The ability to communicate an unpopular decision is always difficult, especially when you do not personally agree with the decision. When have you had to do this and what was the outcome?
  • Describe any significant projects, ideas etc. you have conceived within the past year. How did you know they were needed and would work? Were they used? Did they work?
  • What kinds of guidelines/procedures have you written? Do you have any rules that you follow in writing these? What are they? How do you implement them?
  • Can you describe some examples where you have drafted correspondence, minutes or reports?
  • What measures do you have for monitoring client/customer feedback?

Problem Solving

  • Give an example of a complex problem that you have had to solve. What happened? What was the result?
  • Describe a situation where you have had to source information for a client. What avenues did you take to find the information?
  • Describe how you approached a particularly challenging or difficult problem you had to solve. What did you do? How did you do it?
  • The area this position is located constitute a small team, but with that said, individuals are required to be proactive. Can you think of an occasion when you’ve taken the lead on an issue, or problem and what was the outcome?

Planning

  • Describe a situation where you have had competing demands placed on you. How did you deal with the situation so all parties were satisfied? What was the outcome?
  • Please describe any significant projects, ideas etc. you have conceived within the past year. Were they used? Did they work? How did you know they were needed and would work?
  • Have you planned a large meeting or conference? Walk me through the steps you took? What was the outcome?
  • Did you develop your unit’s operational plans or goals? How did you go about doing this? How useful are they on a day-to-day basis?
  • Can you walk us through a major project you have been responsible for and tell us how you planned the activities and how the schedule worked out?

Time Management

  • Describe how you set about ordering your activities each day/week. How do you determine priority in competing demands?
  • Can you walk us through a major project you have been responsible for and tell us how you planned the activities and how the schedule worked out?
  • How have you determined what constitutes top priorities in scheduling your time? Give examples.
  • Take us through the steps that you use to ensure that your work is as accurate as possible?
  • Describe the system you use for keeping track of multiple projects. How do you track your progress so that you can meet deadlines? How do you stay focused?

Adaptability

  • Tell us about some situations in which you have had to adjust quickly to changes in organisational priorities? What was the impact of the change on you?
  • Tell us about a time in your job at ___ where you had to abruptly change what you were doing. What did you do? How did it affect you?
  • I see you have moved a number of times. What are the most difficult problems you have faced in moving?
  • Describe a situation in which your initial attempts to gain someone’s support or cooperation failed. Did you try again? What approach did you use the second time?
  • What do you do when your time schedule is upset by unforeseen circumstances? Give an example.
  • It seems there is a great deal of difference between working for ___ and ___. Can you tell us about those differences? Did they present problems for you? How did you overcome these problems?
  • We have all had occasions when we just couldn't get everything done on time. When and why has this happened to you? To what extent did this impact on your accuracy?
  • There are times when we are all faced with implementing a policy decision, which might lie outside our personal comfort levels or might be in conflict with our values. Please describe a time when this has happened to you, how did you handle it and what, with hindsight, would you do differently?
  • Describe a time when you have been trying to do something and have come up against difficulties because of policies and procedures. What did you do and how did you bend the rules? What was the outcome and would you do this again?

Leadership & Management

  • Please describe an example from your previous work experience where you have been required to demonstrate leadership and direction to staff you have managed. What steps did you take and what were the outcomes that demonstrated your leadership?
  • Describe some examples of strategic planning and budgeting that you have undertaken in previous roles. What is the largest budget you have managed? How do you determine priorities if the allocation of resources is insufficient to carry out all functions in your area of management responsibility?
  • What experience have you had in developing and managing a major organisational unit operational plan or budget?
  • What experience do you have in managing large and complex projects?
  • Describe strategies you have or would employ to achieve outcomes for a new intitiative where you do not have direct control of resources.
  • Can you describe a situation where you have been asked to provide strategic policy advice to your manager? What was involved and what was the outcome?
  • What strategies might you use in this position to ensure that the School’s relationships with Faculties and Departments are optimal?
  • Can you describe a situation where you have had to make a decision that involved a high degree of risk? How did it turn out?
  • How do you successfully manage change in an environment where there may be some resistance to different approaches to work or particular tasks from some staff?
  • Describe the characteristics of a good quality assurance system for a University. What approach would you recommend for the preparation of a portfolio submission to AUQA?
  • Tell us some of the toughest groups you have had to get cooperation from. Did you have any formal authority? What did you do and what was the result?
  • Tell us about a new policy or new idea you recently implemented that was considerably different from the standard procedure. What approach did you take to get your employees to go along with it? What was the result?
  • Have you ever led task forces, committees or groups that did not report to you but from whom you had to get work? What did you do to get what you wanted from the group? What were the satisfactions and disappointments?
  • Managing resources successfully in straitened times requires innovation. We are interested in an example of how you may have re-engineered activities to achieve better outcomes and/or efficiencies and particularly how you may have employed (information technology/other staff) in this process.
  • Have you ever had problems in getting your subordinates/clients to accept your ideas of department goals?
  • Give us some examples of when your ideas were strongly opposed in a discussion. How did you react?
  • In any positions of leadership you have held, what form of reporting have you used to monitor the progress of your staff in achieving departmental goals and objectives?
  • Give me an example of a time in which you feel you were able to build motivation in your co-workers or subordinates at work.
  • What have been some recent responsibilities you have taken on in your role as___, why did you assume these responsibilities?
  • Describe a situation when you have included subordinates in your decision making. To what extent did you incorporate their input?
  • Do you have any methods to keep informed of what is going on in your area of supervision? What are they?
  • How do you set objectives for the year? What do you do to see that they are reached? How are they progressing?
  • Every manager has problems where his/her work unit and staff are not as committed to the organisations vision as you would like. Can you give an example of when your work unit experienced this problem? (Various questions: How did the lack of commitment manifest itself? Cause of it?, Who identified it?, How did you deal with it?, How did your staff react?, Were they consulted?, The result?, Are you satisfied with the result?, What would you do differently next time?, What have you learned from this? What have you put in place to prevent it from happening again?)
  • Please describe an example of where you have been required to demonstrate leadership and direction in (state particular issue applying to your position) across an organisation.
  • If you had to describe your management style, what would it be?

Staff Management

  • Every manager has had problems where his/her work unit and staff are not as committed to the organisations vision as you would like Can you give me an example of when your work unit experienced this problem? The result? Are you satisfied with the result? What have you learned from this? What have you put in place to prevent this from happening again?
  • What techniques do you use to motivate staff? Give a recent example, with the results.
  • Have you ever had to deal with a difficult staffing problem? If so, what was the problem, how did you go about resolving it and what was the outcome?
  • How do you keep your employees informed of what is going on in the organisation? How frequently do you do this? What do you do in preparation?
  • Give some examples of how you have turned around someone’s performance — how did you do it and what was the result?
  • What recent problems have you had in which you included your subordinates in arriving at solutions or approaches? What approach did you take to get them to accomplish the task?
  • It is often difficult to sell new ideas to staff who often feel threatened by the idea of change. How do you personally handle change and how do you help your staff to adjust?
  • What procedures do you use for evaluation of subordinate’s performance?
  • Part of this role will be the ongoing development of your employees. What experience do you have in this or how would you go about ensuring that staff are provided with the ongoing development and support required?

Health & Safety

  • In your past roles, have you ever noticed a process or task that was being done unsafely? How did you come to notice it and what did you do to resolve the issue?
  • How do you keep up to date with information and policy in relation to Health and Safety?
  • Describe a safety issue that has been presented to you and how you dealt with the issue. What was the outcome?

Judgement

  • What were the toughest decisions you had to make while at ___ (company)? Tell us about them. What alternatives did you consider?
  • Have you ever made a decision that affected a department other than your own? What was the situation? What was the outcome?
  • How do event in your department affect other parts of the organisation? Give examples.
  • Give an example of a good decision you have made in the last six months. What were the alternatives? Why was it a good decision?

Initiative

  • Describe any new ideas and suggestions you have made to your supervisor in the last six months, which were accepted. What prompted the proposed idea? How did you get them accepted? What were they?
  • Give an example of a project or idea you have taken on in spite of considerable opposition or organisational constraint.
  • Can you tell us about a time when you’ve recognised and seized an opportunity? What was it, what was the process and result?
  • Please describe any significant projects, ideas etc. you have conceived within the past year. Where they used? Did they work? How did you know they were needed and would work?

Teamwork

  • What do you see as important in being a good team member?
  • What have been your greatest achievements since being in your current role in your existing team?
  • What kinds of things do you have to consider when working in a group/team? Use a recent job experience to describe this.
  • Give us an example of when you have had to work with others to get a job done. What were some of the difficulties? What were the advantages?
  • With what other departments do you frequently interface in your current job?
  • Give an example of how you have fostered cooperation and teamwork within a team you have either managed or been a member of. What was it? What was the result?
  • How do you keep your employees informed of what is going on in the organisation?
  • Have you had the experience where one team member was not pulling their weight, or there was a personality clash? How did you handle the situation?
  • Give me an example of the toughest groups you have had to get cooperation from, describe the outcome of the issue and how you handled the whole process.
  • How much independence do you have in your current role?
  • Can you give an example of when you have worked with others to achieve a successful outcome?
  • Describe an occasion when you included employees in your decision making. To what extent did you incorporate their input?
  • As mentioned, working in a small team will be an important aspect of this role. Has there been a time when you’ve worked as part of a team to achieve an outcome? Tell us about your role in the team and what you’d see as the central elements to a team’s success.

Marketing

  • What do you believe are the core determinants of a successful marketing program and describe how you have devised or improved such a program? How did you evaluate its success?
  • Set out what you believe are the key factors that are likely to determine an Australian institutions capacity to expand its international student population.

Presentations

Examples of presentation topics include:

  1. The Vice-Chancellor has asked the Division to nominate two key performance indicators which can be included in next year’s University Strategic Plan that would convincingly demonstrate that the Division’s strategic planning process is working. What two would you suggest and why?
  2. What the candidate understands the role and responsibilities of the (position title) to be:
    • What they see as the key challenges and opportunities of the role in delivering a range of services to the University and Faculty;
    • What values, strengths and experiences they would bring to the role
  3. What is your vision for a (state particular program) for a University? (include any type of program that applies to your position)
  4. Provide the candidate with a policy statement and ask them to describe the key points of the policy statement which would be relevant to considerations by the Senior Executive Group of the University, providing advice on implications, strategies and outcomes.
  5. If the position involves developing a program:
    • If you were asked to design such a program, what characteristics do you think it should have? How would you go about designing and getting approval for such a program? What barriers do you think you might encounter in putting forward such a plan? What would you do to resolve any problems you encountered?
  6. If the position involves any issues/conflict between customers and service providers:
    • If you were the head of the Centre how would you attempt to resolve such difficulties? What action would you take if the people involved continued to be involved in conflict despite your actions? What sort of factors would you take into account in dealing with such an issue?
  7. Provide the candidate with data surrounding income and expenditure, student and staff profiles, research profile, forward planning.
    • Based on the data provided and general information you are able to research,
      1. What opportunities and vulnerabilities over the next three years can you identify
      2. What additional information would you need to collect in order to be able to make confident 3 year projections on undergraduate numbers? Postgraduate numbers? Staff numbers?
  8. Provide the candidate with a key issue facing the department (Eg: improving general staff communication). Ask the candidate to consider this issue and suggest a plan for addressing it.