Interviewing Questions


Preparing for an interview includes knowing what types of questions might be asked and practicing your responses. While you won’t know the exact questions that are going to be asked in your interview, these are the most common types to help you prepare:

Ask for help - at any stage, whether you are looking for more information on possible interview questions or need some practice. Career Development is here to help you! Call (507-933-7575), use Handshake, or stop in to schedule an appointment or drop in during the academic year to meet with a Peer Career Advisor.

The Elevator Pitch

The Elevator Pitch is your response to “Tell me about yourself,” the most common first question in any interview. “Tell me about yourself,” or other versions of this question, is not meant to be a trick question. It’s really meant to get you warmed up and talking. But, there are some rules to how to answer this question:

  • Focus more on your involvements and experiences as they relate to the position.
  • This is not the time to tell really personal information (siblings, where you grew up, favorite color, pets, etc.)
  • 30-60 seconds of content is what you should aim for
  • Avoid asking “What do you want to know?”
  • PREPARE! Don’t wing it. Know what you want to say and practice
  • Use a conversational tone; it shouldn’t sound overly rehearsed or scripted

Basic Questions

There are questions that are common to many interviews. It is expected that you will have answers prepared for questions like:

  • What do you know about our organization AND/OR Why did you apply for this position/program?
  • What are your goals?
  • What are your strengths AND/OR What are your weaknesses?
  • How would your supervisor/professor describe you?
  • What has been your most significant accomplishment?
  • Why should we select you?

Behavior Based Questions

Many organizations are using behavioral interview questions. This style of questioning is geared towards learning more about your past experiences and how you handle situations. Instead of speaking in general, you will need to have very specific examples that come from your past work, extracurriculars, courses/projects, volunteer/service, or other types of relevant experiences.

Behavioral interview questions typically start with “Tell me a time when…” “Describe a situation where…” “Give an example of…” 

To respond to these questions use the STAR technique: This stands for

  • Situation or Task - the event or circumstances or goal you were working toward - provide the jist of it, not a history. Aim for a positive example, unless specifically asked otherwise.
  • Action taken - focus on your specific role even in group settings, your answer should highlight you.
  • Result - what happened AND how it relates to the question asked.

Video on how to answer Behavior Based Interview Questions

Updated 7/27/22 JV