Just Life

10 great interview questions.

…hummm, when the topic isn’t simply fun (remember favorite childhood games?), they’re typically timely (like roadtrip tips and advice for a college freshman) – so I’m thinking someone must be looking for a job. of course as I type this, I realize someone is always looking for a job. my second cup of coffee hasn’t kicked in yet and I’m still a bit slow.

an enthusiastic client
that’s me on the far left, at a time one of my teams made a client happy – see #2 – and we celebrated with a photo

in any event, this topic intrigues me because I actually have a lot of experience asking interview questions. over my 27 year career in benefits consulting, I hired dozens to fill all sorts of roles; I must have interviewed three or four times that many candidates. that’s a lot of questions! here are ten of my tried-and-true favorites:

1. tell me about a time you made a big mistake. what caused it? what did you to do recover? what did you learn from it?

2. tell me about a time you made a customer really happy.

3. …and a time you made one really unhappy.

4. things change so quickly in our industry. how do you stay abreast of new developments?

5. tell me about a big project you managed. how did you keep the team on track?

6. what would your manager say you did really well on that project? and what could you improve?

7. what would your team say you did really well? and what could you improve?

8. which of your skills are a great match for this position?

9. where do you think you’ll have the steepest learning curve?

10. what’s your favorite excel function? (this one is more just for fun, but I’d probably be swayed to hire an analyst who loved pivot tables more than one who didn’t have a clue!)

I hope these questions help anyone out there who’s looking for a job. or anyone who’s hiring!


  • Honoré

    Many of these questions we can all ask ourselves, job- hunting or not. I certainly think it would be interesting to hear some of the responses you heard over the years.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Kym

    Great list, Mary! I think I've asked (or been asked) all of those questions somewhere along the way — except the one about Excel functions!

  • Anonymous

    ugh. interview questions to me = stress. what about the popular "where do you see yourself in five years?"

    don't you look pretty in the picture!!

  • Anonymous

    Ohh, I love that even though you are "retired" and knit full-time 🙂 you are still my number one resource for things like interviews and "how the hell do I get this pivot table to work right?!" or "the vlookup function isn't working!" 🙂