Cornell University

Interview Questions

Prepare answers to typical interview questions to increase your confidence and potential for success. The following are examples of questions an employer might ask you. Understanding the employer’s goal in asking these questions will help you prepare effective responses.

Knowledge of Personal Qualities and Goals

Employer’s Goal: To determine your drive, motivation, and goal orientation.

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why did you choose to study at Cornell? Why did you major in ...?
  • What are your goals for the next three (or five, or ten) years?
  • What would you do if you saw someone cheating on an exam or assignment?
  • What adjectives would others use to describe you?
  • Describe a project or initiative that you consider particularly successful.
  • Tell me about a time when you were involved in a conflict. How did you resolve it? What was the outcome?
  • Give me an example of a leadership role you’ve held and what you accomplished.
  • Discuss a big risk you took and tell me how it turned out.\
  • Knowledge of the Organization

Employer’s Goal: To determine what you’ve learned about the organization and the specific position.

  • Why do you want to work for our organization?
  • What do you think it takes to be successful here?
  • Why are you interested in the position?
  • In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our organization?

Knowledge of Abilities and Achievements

Employer’s Goal: To assess your fit and ability to succeed in the position.

  • Give me an example of a time when you gained the support of others who had differing points of view.
  • What achievement has been most satisfying, and why?
  • What is your work style in a fast-paced environment?
  • Tell me about a particularly challenging problem that you’ve faced. How did you respond? What did you learn?
  • Describe a time when you successfully balanced several competing priorities.
  • What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
  • Give me an example of a time when you were given an ambiguous assignment. How did you handle it?
  • Describe a situation in which you had to take a risk. What did you learn from the experience?

Knowledge of Transferable Skills and Experience

Employer’s Goal: To assess your understanding of the relationship between the experiences you
presented on your resume and potential responsibilities.

  • Tell me three significant things you learned from your experience at _______.
  • What is the best job you ever held? Why?
  • What did you enjoy most or like least about your experience at ________?
  • How do you plan and organize a major project?
  • What experience do you have working on a team?
  • In what extracurricular activities are you involved?