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Performance Based Interview Questions April 30, 2008

Posted by Coolguy in IT Career.
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Research shows that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. With PBI the interviewer defines the skills needed for the job and structures the interview process to elicit behavioral examples of past performance.

Here is a rather long list of questions that map to various behavioral competencies relevant for a position. This list is not for the faint hearted and some Q’s may be repeated / re-phrased. I will continue to refine and update this list and would welcome any inputs.

Due to the sheer number of Q’s, it may not be wise to try and prepare for all these possible scenarios. I described a technique to tackle performance based interviews here.

Communication

  1. Tell me about a time when you had to use your presentation skills to influence someone’s opinion
  2. Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully communicate with another person even when that individual may not have agreed with your perspective.
  3. Give me a specific example of a time when you had to handle an angry customer. What was the problem and what was the outcome?
  4. Tell me about a time when you and your current/previous supervisor disagreed but you still found a way to get your point across.
  5. Tell me about your efforts to “sell” a new idea to your supervisor.
  6. How do you make your feelings known when you disagree with the views of your staff?
  7. Tell me how you kept your supervisor advised of the status on projects.
  8. How have you assessed your behavioral messages and what have you learned about yourself as a result?

Listening

  1. What do you do to show people that you are listening to them?
  2. How often do you have to rely on information you have gathered from others when talking to them?
  3. What kinds of problems have you had? What happened?
  4. Give an example of a time when you made a mistake because you did not listen well to what someone had to say.
  5. When is listening important on your job? When is listening difficult?
  6. What have you done to improve your listening skills?

Written Communication

  1. What kinds of writing have you done? How do you prepare written communications?
  2. What are the most challenging documents have you done? What kinds of proposals have you written?
  3. How have you persuaded people through a document you prepared?
  4. Tell me about a time in which you had to use your written communication skills in order to get an important point across.

Oral Communication

  1. What have you done to improve your verbal communication skills?

Presentation

  1. What kinds of oral presentations have you made? How did you prepare for them? What challenges did you have?
  2. How do you prepare for a presentation to a group of technical experts in your field?
  3. Tell me about the most effective presentation you have made. What was the topic? What made it difficult? How did you handle it?
  4. How would you describe your presentation style?

Analytical Skills and thinking

Analysis skills

  1. What kinds of data and technical information do you review?
  2. How do you disseminate the information to other people? How do you decide what’s important? How do you use this information?
  3. Tell me about a time when you recognized a problem, an opportunity, when other people were not aware of it? What was the situation? What did you do? How did you see the opportunity?
  4. Have you ever done a research paper? How did you go about putting it together?
  5. How do you learn about a product or a process?

Evaluating Alternatives

  1. What are some of the major decisions you have made over the past (6, 12, 18) months?
  2. What alternatives did you develop?
  3. How did you assemble the information?
  4. How did you review the information? What process did you follow to reach a conclusion?
  5. Who made the decision?
  6. What kinds of decisions are most difficult for you? Describe one.
  7. Have you ever had a situation where you had a number of alternatives to choose from? How did you go about choosing one?
  8. When a number of different people come to you with ideas about solving a problem, how do you do about using their information? Please give an example.

Judgment / Problem Solving

  1. How do you go about developing information to make a decision? Give an example.
  2. When you have to make a highly technical decision, how do you go about doing it?
  3. Everyone has made some poor decisions or done something that just did not turn out right. Has this happened to you? What happened?
  4. What kinds of problems have you had coordinating technical projects? How did you solve them?
  5. How do you go about deciding what strategy to employ when dealing with a difficult customer
  6. Describe an instance when you had to think quickly to free yourself from a difficult situation.
  7. Tell me about a politically complex work situation in which you worked.
  8. Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
  9. Give me an example of a time when there was a decision to be made and procedures were not in place? What was the outcome?
  10. How do you go about solving problems at work?
  11. Tell me about a specific time when you eliminated or avoided a potential problem before it happened.
  12. What types of problems do you most enjoy tackling? Give me some examples of such problems you faced. What did you enjoy about them?
  13. To whom did you turn for help the last time you had a major problem and why did you choose that person?
  14. In some aspects of work it is important to be free of error. Can you describe a situation where you have tried to prevent errors? What did you do? What was the outcome?
  15. Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem
  16. Give me an example of a time when you had to make a split second decision.
  17. Give me an example of a time when you used your fact-finding skills to solve a problem.
  18. Tell me about a time when you missed an obvious solution to a problem.
  19. Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems and developed preventive measures.
  20. Tell me about a time when you were forced to make an unpopular decision.
  21. Please tell me about a time you had to fire a friend.
  22. Describe an instance when you had to think on your feet to extricate yourself from a difficult situation.
  23. How do you go about developing information to make a decision? Give an example.
  24. When you have to make a highly technical decision, how do you go about doing it?
  25. Everyone has made some poor decisions or done something that just did not turn out right. Has this happened to you? What happened?
  26. What kinds of problems have you had coordinating technical projects? How did you solve them?
  27. How do you go about deciding what strategy to employ when dealing with a difficult customer
  28. What are some of the problems you have faced; such as between business development and project leaders, between one department and another, between you and your peers? How did you recognize that they were there?
  29. Have you ever been caught unaware by a problem or obstacle that you had not foreseen? What happened?
  30. When was the last time something came up in a meeting that was not covered in the plan? What did you do? What were the results of your judgment?
  31. Tell me about a time when you did something completely different from the plan and/or assignment. Why? What happened?

Leadership

Initiative

  1. Give me an example of a time when you played a leadership role in an event, an activity, a department or work unit, or a project. Describe how you led the efforts. Tell me how people responded to your leadership.
  2. Tell me about a time when you accomplished something significant that wouldn’t have happened if you had not been there to make it happen.
  3. Tell me about a time when you were able to step into a situation, take charge, muster support and achieve good results.
  4. Describe for me a time when you may have been disappointed in your behavior.
  5. Tell me about a time when you had to discipline or fire a friend.
  6. Tell me about a time when you’ve had to develop leaders under you.
  7. Give an example of a time in which you felt you were able to build motivation in your co-workers or subordinates at work.
  8. Give an example of your ability to build motivation in your co-workers, classmates, and even if on a volunteer committee.
  9. Have you ever had difficulty getting others to accept your ideas? What was your approach? Did it work?
  10. Have you ever been a member of a group where two of the members did not work well together? What did you do to get them to do so?
  11. What is the toughest group that you have had to get cooperation from? Describe how you handled it. What was the outcome?
  12. What are 3 effective leadership qualities you think are important? How have you demonstrated these qualities in your past/current position?
  13. Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to approach things your way. At what level was the person you had to persuade?
  14. Tell me about your efforts to “sell” a new idea to your supervisor.
  15. Describe a leadership situation that you would handle differently if you had it to do over again.
  16. What one experience proved to you that you would be a capable manager?
  17. What have you done to develop the skills of your staff?
  18. Tell me about a time when you were able to provide a co-worker with recognition for the work they performed. What did you do?
  19. Tell me about a time when you reached out for additional responsibility.
  20. Tell me about a project/suggestion that you initiated. Explain how you communicated the project/suggestion.
  21. What have you done in your present/previous job that goes beyond what was required?
  22. When was the last time you successfully proposed a change ?
  23. Give me an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead.

Development of subordinates

  1. Give me an example of a time when you helped a staff member accept change and make the necessary adjustments to move forward. What were the change/transition skills that you used?
  2. Tell me about a specific time when you had to handle a tough morale problem.
  3. Tell me about a time when you had to take disciplinary action with someone you supervised.
  4. Tell me about a time when you had to tell a staff member that you were dissatisfied with his or her work.
  5. Tell me about a time when you had to handle a highly emotional employee.
  6. Discuss a work situation in which you felt you successfully directed the work of others.
  7. Tell me about a time when your department was going through long-term changes or working on a long-term project. What did you do to keep your staff focused?
  8. What have you done to improve the skills of your subordinates?
  9. What was your biggest success in hiring someone? What did you do?
  10. What have you done to develop your subordinates? Give an example.
  11. How do you coach an employee in completing a new assignment?
  12. What was your biggest mistake in hiring someone? What happened? How did you deal with the situation?
  13. How do you let subordinates know what you expect of them?
  14. How do you go about setting goals with subordinates? How do you involve them is this process?
  15. What performance standards do you have for your unit? How have you communicated them to your subordinates?

Delegation

  1. Do you consider yourself a macro or micro manager? How do you delegate?
  2. Tell me how you go about delegating work?
  3. What was the biggest mistake you have had when delegating work? The biggest success?
  4. How do you make the decision to delegate work?

Vision

  1. Describe what steps/methods you have used to define/identify a vision for your unit/position.
  2. In your current or former position, what were your short and long-term goals? How long ago did you set them? Who else was involved in setting them? Which ones were achieved?
  3. How do you see your job relating to the overall goals of your present/previous organization?
  4. Tell me about a time when you anticipated the future and made changes to current responsibilities/operations to meet future needs.

Developing Short-Long Term goals

  1. What were your long-range plans at you most recent employer? What was your role in developing them?
  2. Did you have a strategic plan? How was it developed? How did you communicate it to the rest of your staff?
  3. What company plans have you developed? Which ones have you reached? How did you reach them? Which have you missed? Why did you miss them?
  4. What were your annual goals at you most current employer? How did you develop these goals?
  5. What goals have you met? What did you do to meet them?
  6. What goals did you miss? Why did you miss them?
  7. How do you communicate goals to subordinates? Give an example.
  8. How do you involve people in developing your unit’s goals? Give an example.

Conflict Management

  1. Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully communicate with another person even when you felt the individual did not value your perspective.
  2. Tell me about a time when you and your previous supervisor disagreed but you still found a way to get your point across.
  3. Describe a time when you facilitated a creative solution to a problem between employees.
  4. Tell me about a recent success you had with an especially difficult employee/co-worker.
  5. Thinking of the most difficult person you have had to deal with, describe an interaction that illustrates that difficulty. Tell me about the last time you dealt with him/her? How did you handle the situation?
  6. Describe a time when you took personal accountability for a conflict and initiated contact with the individual(s) involved to explain your actions.
  7. Have you ever had to settle conflict between two people on the job? What was the situation and what did you do?
  8. Tell me about a time when you had to help two peers settle a dispute. How did you go about identifying the issues? What did you do? What was the result?
  9. Have you ever been in a situation where you had to settle an argument between two friends (or people you knew)? What did you do? What was the result?

Motivation

  1. How do you get subordinates to work at their peak potential? Give an example.
  2. Have you ever had a subordinate whose work was always marginal? How did you deal with that person? What happened?
  3. How do you deal with people whose work exceeds your expectations?
  4. How do you get subordinates to produce at a high level? Give an example.
  5. How do you manage cross-functional teams?

Negotiation

  1. Tell me about the last time you had to negotiate with someone.
  2. How did you prepare for it?
  3. How did you present your position?
  4. What was the most difficult part?
  5. How did you resolve it?
  6. Describe the most challenging negotiation in which you were involved. What did you do? What were
  7. the results for you? What were the results for the other party?
  8. Have you ever been in a situation where you had to bargain with someone? How did you feel about this? What did you do? Give an example.

Control

  1. How do you keep track of what your subordinates are doing?
  2. How do you evaluate the productivity / effectiveness of your subordinates?
  3. How do you get data for performance reviews?
  4. How did you keep track of delegated assignments?
  5. What administrative paperwork do you have? Is it useful? Why/why not?

Risk taking:

  1. Give and example of how you handled a strategic risk ?
  2. What risks did you take in your present/previous job? Tell me about it.

Flexibility / Adaptability

  1. Describe a change in your work you have personally had to make in the last couple years. At the time, how did you feel about making the change? What did you do to make the change? How do you feel about the change now? Would you do anything differently if you had to do it again?
  2. Tell me about the last new procedure you had to learn in your job. Tell me what specifically was the hardest aspect of learning the new procedure. Tell me specifically what you liked best about learning the new procedure. How well is the new procedure working now?
  3. Describe a situation where you were responsible for getting others to make a change. What role did you play and what actions did you take? What was the outcome? If you had to do it again, would you do anything differently?
  4. Tell me about a time when you had to deal with two very different employees that could not be treated the same way. How did you deal with each? How did you decide what you were going to do? How well did your intervention with each employee work?
  5. Tell me about a specific time when staff reductions required restructuring of the workload. How did you do the restructuring? Who specifically did you involve? How did you involve them? Why did you involve those whom you did?
  6. Convince me/us that you are an effective change agent by describing an experience or experiences from your past.
  7. Describe a major change that occurred in a job that you held. How did you adapt to this change?
  8. Tell us about a situation in which you had to adjust to changes over which you had no control. How did you handle it?
  9. Tell us about a time that you had to adapt to a difficult situation ?
  10. What do you do when priorities change quickly? Give one example of when this happened.
  11. By providing examples, demonstrate that you can adapt to a wide variety of people, situations and/or environments.
  12. Tell me about a decision you made while under a lot of pressure.
  13. Tell me about a specific time when you were given new information that affected a decision that you had already made.
  14. Give me an example of a time when there was a decision to be made and procedures were not in place? What was the outcome?
  15. When was the last time you felt pressure on a job? How did the situation come about? How did you react? What made you decide to handle it that way? What effect, if any, did this have on your other responsibilities?
  16. What are some of the things your last employer could have done to keep you?

Innovation / Creative thinking

  1. Tell two suggestions you have made to your manager/companyin the past year. How did you come up with the ideas? What happened? How do you feel about the way things went?
  2. Tell me about a specific time when you made a suggestion to improve the quality of the work done in your unit. Tell me about a specific time when you made a suggestion to improve the efficiency of your unit.
  3. Give examples to illustrate how you have generated ideas that represent thinking “outside the box.” How were your ideas received by others? What became of the ideas?
  4. Tell me about a time when a co-worker had a good idea and you agreed but no one else was willing to listen. How did you handle the situation and what was the outcome?
  5. Explain the approach you use for performance improvement. Explain specifically how you identify problems, what strategies you incorporate to measure the impact of the problems, how you deal with the problems, and how you measure success or failure. Track one problem you have dealt with from identification to closure.
  6. Describe a creative endeavor you can take ownership for that impacted on the efficiency or effectiveness of your organization
  7. When was the last time you were involved in an innovation ?
  8. Did you ever experience an situation where your innovation was stifled?
  9. Describe the most significant or creative presentation/idea that you developed/implemented.
  10. Describe a time when you came up with a creative solution/idea/project/report to a problem in your past work.
  11. Tell me about a time when you created a new process or program that was considered risky. that was the situation and what did you do?
  12. Can you give me an example of how you have been creative in completing your responsibilities?
  13. Can you think of a situation where innovation was required at work? What did you do in this situation?

Teamwork

  1. Gaining the cooperation of others can be difficult. Give a specific example of when you had to do that and what challenges you faced. What was the outcome? What was the long-term impact on your ability to work with this person?
  2. Please give me your best example of working cooperatively as a team member to accomplish an important goal. What was the goal or objective? What was your role in achieving this objective? To what extent did you interact with others on this project?
  3. Tell me about a time when your coworkers gave you feedback about your actions. How did you respond? What changes did you make?
  4. Describe a project you were responsible for that required a lot of interaction with people over a long period of time.
  5. How have you recognized and rewarded a team player in the past? What was the situation?
  6. Tell me about a course, work experience, or extracurricular activity where you had to work closely with others. How did it go? How did you overcome any difficulties?
  7. Describe a problem you had in your life when someone else’s help was very important to you.

Metrics Management

  1. Tell me about a specific benchmark study that you assisted with and how that study was applied within your organization.

Practical Learning / Continuous Development

  1. Describe a decision you made or a situation that you would have handled differently if you had to do it over again.
  2. When you have been made aware of, or have discovered for yourself, a problem in your work performance, what was your course of action? Can you give me an example?
  3. Tell me about a time when your supervisor/co-workers gave you feedback about your work/actions. What did you learn about yourself?
  4. What have you done to further your own professional development in the last 5 years?
  5. Tell me about a job that you had which required you to learn new things.
  6. Tell me about a recent job or experience that you would describe as a real learning experience. What did you learn from the job or the experience?
  7. Tell me about a time when you were asked to complete a difficult assignment even though the odds were against you. What did you learn from that experience?
  8. Discuss the highlights of your most recent educational experience. Did you accomplish any special achievements? What were your most difficult challenges?
  9. I noticed on your resume that you attended _____________ training program. Please describe the training program. How have you applied what you learned to your current job?

Other Questions

  1. Give me a example of when you handled a complex operation ?
  2. Over your career who was the worst of the bosses you had ? Why ?
  3. Give me an example of when you have to strike a work-life balance ?
  4. Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.
  5. Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it.
  6. Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree
  7. Please discuss an important written document you were required to complete
  8. Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks
  9. What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example.
  10. Tell me about a time you were able to successfully deal with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa).
  11. Tell me about a difficult decision you’ve made in the last year.
  12. Give me an example of a time when something you tried to accomplish and failed.
  13. Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker.
  14. Give me an example of a time when you motivated others.
  15. Tell me about a time when you delegated a project effectively.
  16. Describe a time when you set your sights too high (or too low).

Source for some of these questions is here and here and also here

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Comments»

1. Preparing for behavioral interviews « Just another blog - May 5, 2008

[…] Review possible behavioral questions for the key competencies you identified, to see if your scenarios hold-up to the questions. A sample list of questions is here. […]

2. Body language for interviews « Executive in wait - May 30, 2008

[…] are some tips to improve your chances of getting that job. Here are some interview questions to get you […]


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