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Illegal questions

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Always be prepared to ask questions at the end of your interview. Being unprepared to ask questions shows a lack of interest and enthusiasm for the job and the company you are applying to. This is also your opportunity to interview the interviewers so to determine your own fit for the position.

Questions to ask the employer

Always be prepared to ask questions at the end of your interview. Being unprepared to ask questions shows a lack of interest and enthusiasm for the job and the company you are applying to. This is also your opportunity to interview the interviewers so to determine your own fit for the position.

Researching the company ahead of time can help you develop questions and avoid asking questions available on their website or company literature. Be sure to prepare at least 10 questions as some of them may be answered during the interview.  Below are some sample questions to ask at the interview.

 

Company/Organization:

  1. How would you describe the culture here?
  2. What types of people seem to do well in this department/organization?
  3. What opportunities exist for advancement?
  4. Do you most often promote internally or externally?
  5. What are the opportunities you see for this department in the next year?
  6. What are the greatest strengths of this organization?
  7. What would you change about this organization if you could?
  8. How well do departments interact with each other?
  9. Will the organization continue to be competitive? How?
  10. How does your organization react to adopting new technology? New ideas?
  11. What type of growth do you foresee in the next few years? Why?

Position Specific:

  1. What is a typical day like in this position?
  2. Is there anything else I should know that would help me  understand the position?
  3. Why is this position available?
  4. How many people have held this position in the last three years? (If there has been high turnover, ask for an explanation.)
  5. What are the typical hours of this position? Will overtime, night or weekend work be required?
  6. What new tasks or responsibilities do you see someone in this position taking on?
  7. What type of supervision would I receive in this position?

Personal Experience:

  1. What do you like best about working here?
  2. How does this organization encourage personal and professional growth?
  3. How did you start with the organization?
  4. What do you like about working for this organization? How would you compare it to others you have worked for?
  5. Where in the organization do you hope to be in five years?   (A good way to sense potential growth.)

Behavioral based interview questions are the most popular among recruiters. The purpose of behavioral questions is to identify how a potential new employee would act in future situations. Behavioral questions are often open ended, leaving the interviewee to fill in the blanks. To answer these questions in the most effective way, follow the STAR method. Remember to spend most of your time talking about the Result-that is what employers are most interested in hearing.

STAR Method

During the interview, your responses need to be specific and detailed. Tell them about a particular situation that relates to the question, not a general one. Briefly tell them the situation, what you did specifically, and the positive outcome or result (i.e. what did you learn). Your answer should contain these four steps: Situation, Task, Action, and Result.

Situation
Set up the situation in which you had a positive outcome or result that relates to the question asked. For example, it can be something from class, an internship or a volunteer experience.

Task
What goal were you working toward?

Action
What did you do specifically to make an impact? What was your role?

Result
Describe what happened as a result of your actions. What did you learn? The result is what they are really looking to hear in your response, so spend the most time talking about the result.

Example Question
Tell me about a time when you took on a difficult project. What were the results?

Example STAR Answer to the Above Question

Situation
During my internship last summer, I was charged with managing and improving events.

Task
I noticed attendance was dropping each summer and wanted to improve attendance and event quality.

Action
I designed a new marketing campaign and focused on social media and other free venues. I surveyed focus groups to hear what our target population would like to see changed with our events and made recommendations to the event manager.

Result
We utilized some of the ideas we gathered and promoted things daily.  Our attendance grew by 80% last summer, and this resulted in more money raised. Our board of directors was very pleased with this increase.
 

Sample Questions about You

  • Tell me about a time when you had a list of things to do and your supervisor/instructor came to you and said “I need this project/assignment completed by 5 o’clock”. How did you handle the situation?
  • Give me an example of a time where you failed to meet a goal. What did you fail to do? What were the consequences? What was the outcome?
  • Describe a time when you were assigned a task but were provided little direction about how to complete the task. What steps did you take to complete the task? What was the outcome?
  • Tell me about how you keep yourself organized so to meet deadlines or goals.

Sample Questions About Working With Others

  • Give me an example of a time when you had to deal with a difficult co-worker or fellow student on a project.
  • How did you handle the situation? What were the outcomes?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to make a difficult decision that affected those with whom you worked. What was the outcome?
  • Describe a time when you were a team leader. Who was on the team, and what did you do to help your team be successful?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to persuade someone to see your point of view. What tactics did you use? What were the outcomes? What did you learn?
  • Give me an example of a time when you used creativity to complete a project, work with someone else, or develop a new idea. How did you communicate your idea and how was it received?
  • Tell me about a time you were involved in a project with a group.
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to supervise someone.
  • Describe a time when a co-worker approached you and criticized your work. How did you handle the situation? What was the outcome?
  • Provide me with an example of a time when you had to motivate others. What were the outcomes?

Preparing for your interview will make your interview more successful. Before your interview, take the time to review questions that you could be asked. It is not necessary to have prepared answers memorized, but be prepared to talk about yourself, your skills, and your experiences. The following questions can serve as a guide to prepare you for an interview.

Personal:
These are intended to help the employer understand how you best function and what your strengths are.

  • Tell me a little about yourself. (Keep your answer career oriented).
  • What are your strengths?
  • What causes you stress and how do you handle it?
  • Give me three adjectives that describe you.
  • What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
  • What do you like to do in your spare time?

Career Goals:
These are intended to help the employer understand how well you plan and what your ambitions may be.

  • Where do you see yourself in five years? (Again, focus on your career goals).
  • How do you define success?
  • What type of supervision do you prefer? What do past supervisors say about you?
  • What type of steps do you take to stay informed of new developments within your career field?
  • How do you feel about working nights and weekends for special events/activities?

Employer Information:
These are intended to let the employer know how much you understand about the organization, and about your preparation and enthusiasm for the position and organization.

  • What do you know about our company/organization?
  • What do you know about this position?

Education:
These are intended to help the employer understand how your education fits with the job and also your level of self-reflection about it. 

  • How did you decide on your career/field/major?
  • What classes have you enjoyed the most/least during college and why?
  • How have the activities that you have been involved with during college influenced you?
  • Do you have future plans of furthering your education?
  • What electives did you enjoy the most? Why?

Experience:
These are intended to help the employer understand how your experiences have given you the needed skills and relevant experiences related to the position for which you are interviewing.

  • How would your co-workers/supervisors describe you?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to influence someone to accept your idea.
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to make an important decision and how you came to that decision.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult person and how you handled it.
  • Tell me about your position with ___________ and the valuable skills you learned.
  • Please give me an example where you have demonstrated the ability to be an effective member of a team.
  • Give me 3 reasons why I should hire you.
  • Is there anything you would like to add?
  • What did you like the most and the least about your last place of employment?

Atypical Questions:
These are intended to help the employer understand how much you think on your feet, understand your decision making process or address how creative you may be. There are no correct answers. 

  • If you were a fork, knife, or a spoon, which would you be and why?
  • Why are manhole covers round?
  • Sell me something in this room, anything.
  • What did you do poorly in your last position or on your last project?
  • If you had to choose, would you be an elephant or a giraffe? Explain why.
  • Create an argument for one of these statements: salt is better than pepper or pepper is better than salt.  
  • If you had to pick a title for an autobiography about your life (at this point in time), what would you name the title?
  • If you were a type of food, what type of food would you be and why?
  • If you could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be and why?

Potential Interview Questions

Getting to Know You

  • Why did you decide to become a teacher?
  • Why are you the best/most qualified applicant for this position?
  • Describe a personal experience which had an impact on your teaching.
  • What is your favorite aspect of teaching?
  • What are your interests outside of teaching?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses as a teacher?
  • List 3 adjectives that describe you professionally.
  • Why are you interested in our district?
  • Briefly describe your personal teaching philosophy.

Interpersonal Skills

  • How would you plan to facilitate collaboration between home and school?
  • Can you describe how you have or how you would communicate with students’ parents?
  • If confronted by an angry parent (or perhaps colleague) on an issue, how would you respond?
  • How important is it for you to be well liked by your students?
  • How would you respond to a student who asked for your advice on a difficult personal situation?
  • What kinds of things do you do to get to know students on a personal level?
  • How would you address bullying in school?

 

Instruction

  • Describe a typical class period.
  • What instructional strategies have you found most effective?
  • What are the components of an effective lesson plan?
  • What research-based teaching methods have you used?
  • What specific strategies would you use to help students who are struggling with reading?
  • Explain what differentiation looks like in your classroom. Give a specific example of a time when you have modified your instruction to accommodate the unique needs of a particular student.
  • How do you incorporate state and national standards into your curriculum?
  • What do you do to actively engage your students?
  • How would you motivate a reluctant learner?
  • What would you do with students who continually fail to complete their homework?
  • Describe a specific skill or concept that students typically struggle with in your classroom. How do you overcome that challenge?
  • How do you integrate technology in your classroom?
  • What kinds of multicultural activities promote diversity in your classroom?]
  • Describe your most successful unit and what made it successful.
  • How do you communicate your learning objectives to the students?
  • How do you make real-world connections in the subject area you are teaching?
  • How do you transition from one activity to the next?
  • How do you measure student success?
  • How do you know whether your curriculum is appropriately matched to your students’ needs?

 

Classroom Management and Environment

  • What type of classroom management plan would you implement?
  • How would you set up and communicate your rules and expectations to your students?
  • How do you handle students who are difficult to manage?
  • Describe the toughest discipline situation you have encountered and how you handled it.
  • If you were having classroom management difficulties, when and who would you ask for help?
  • Success in school is proven to be influenced by a child’s physical, social, and educational environment. Describe that environment in your classroom – how are these factors at play?
  • Describe the layout and environment of your classroom?
  • How do you build a community with your students?
  • What does a productive and collaborative classroom community look like?

 

Personal/Reflection

  • Describe the qualities of a highly effective teacher.
  • Identify 3 significant challenges that educators face today.
  • If you had been in charge at your last work place, what changes would you have made and why?
  • Describe the characteristics of the students you like to teach.
  • What did you find the most challenging during your student teaching experience? (Or, for veteran teachers, most recent teaching experience).
  • Describe a time that you were in a difficult situation and explain how you resolved it.
  • If you were doing something for students that you knew was right and your principal told you to stop, what would you do?
  • Describe in detail your best and worst days in the classroom.
  • Describe the best lesson you ever taught and explain why it was great.
  • What are your long term goals?
  • What new ideas would you bring to our school and/or district?
  • Give an example of a time you went above and beyond to accomplish a task.

Near the end of an interview, often candidates will have an opportunity to ask questions. This is a chance for you to learn more about the school as well as demonstrate the depth of your knowledge of the school and the position. You should prepare 5-7 questions in advance while researching the school and district, however you may generate a few more from information you receive during the interview. Be prepared but flexible. Try to avoid any negative or salary/benefit questions. You will have the opportunity to ask financial and benefit questions when the position is offered. Here are several questions to consider:

  • What are you most proud of about your school?
  • What would faculty, students, and parents say are the strengths of your school?
  • What were your school’s goals this year?
  • How do teachers integrate technology into the classroom?
  • What priorities would you have for me as a new member of the team?
  • Do you offer a mentoring program for new teachers?
  • How does the school district support professional development?
  • What extracurricular activity opportunities might be available?
  • What is an example of a challenge that the district/school is facing?

 

*To practice interviewing skills, check out mock interviews offered by the Pomerantz Career Center!