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Part of Western Governors University

November 6, 2019

Student Success , Business

Common interview questions and how to answer them.

Two women doing job interview

So, you’re about to graduate with a business degree. You may be wondering, “now what?” Earning a degree from WGU is a crucial first step to changing your career by giving you skills and credentials. But it’s not the only step. After you get your diploma, there’s still work to be done so you can land your dream job. But we’re here to help you with that part as well! Here at WGU, we have a wide variety of alumni resources to help you network and find professionals in your industry. It helps you connect to these other alumni, learn about jobs, get interviews, and more. 

Once you’ve networked and gotten that crucial job interview, it’s important to be prepared to knock the socks off of the hiring manager. This guide will help you prepare for job interviews by going over common interview questions, and detailing how you can get ready to answer them. Getting a job after getting a diploma doesn’t have to be stressful, here at WGU we want to help you get your dream job and have plenty of resources to make sure you’re ready for it. Take a look at these common interview questions so you’re ready to impress the person doing the hiring.

Hand extended for handshake during job interview


1. What is your leadership style?

  • What this question means: This interview question is asking how you work with others on your team, especially lower-level employees. The hiring manager is trying to understand if you will fit into their company culture, how the employees working under you will be valued and accommodated, and if you will be successful as a leader in their organization. 
  • Best ways to answer: There are a variety of leadership styles that you might employ. Usually the best leadership styles use accountability and high expectations, coupled with empathy and avoiding micro-managing. The best way to answer this interview question is honestly, but researching and understanding the best kind of leadership styles will help you understand what you should aspire to as a leader, and guide you in your answer.  Don’t go on about how managers are the only way that employees get work done and that you have to be hyper vigilant to ensure that every detail is perfect. Interviewers don’t want negative atmospheres in their workplace, and often want their current employees to be trusted.

2. When was a time where you completed a work project? What was your role?

  • What this question means: This interview question is trying to get information about your past work experiences, and how you’ve worked to help accomplish something. The person doing the hiring is trying to gauge how you work within a team, how you set goals and work to achieve them, and how you find success at work.
  • Best ways to answer: Before your interview it’s a good idea to think about some recent work projects you enjoyed and can speak to. Pick a project where you were a vital part of a team and can explain how you set goals and worked well with others to meet your deadlines. Showing your passion for a project, how you worked with other team members, and your overall style when it comes to work is a good idea. Don’t be overly negative, sharing things about team members who caused problems or how much of a mess it was. Focus on the positives to show the interviewer that you’re a positive person. 

3. How do you stay current in management trends?

  • What this question means: This common interview question means that the interviewer wants to know how you work to stay involved in your industry. They want to make sure that you aren’t stuck back in the past with outdated ideas and trends. An organization wants to know that a potential candidate is invested in the present and future, and will help their organization succeed as time goes on.
  • Best ways to answer: Different industries have their own publications, podcasts, and websites that report on the current trends. It’s important that you subscribe to these kinds of informational materials so you can talk about their impact on your style. It’s also a good idea to read books by thought leaders before your interview to learn about new findings in management and psychology. Answering an interviewer and telling them all the different ways you stay involved with management and your industry is sure to impress them. Don’t make things up, because if the interviewer asks a follow-up about something you’ve made up, you’re in deep in a lie and it can cause a huge issue .

4. What role did you play in your last position?

  • What this question means: This leadership interview question means the employer wants to know about the most recent job a potential hire has had. They want to understand what your responsibilities were as a manager and how you handled the day-to-day operations of your job. From big picture to small details, this interview question is addressed to figure out how your past job can lend itself to this potential new job.
  • Best ways to answer: Talk about your leadership responsibilities and how they were integral to the company as a whole. With this kind of discussion it’s vital to talk about how your past directly connects to this new position. Make it clear that you were a needed team member and that you can do the same in this new position. Don’t try and paint yourself to be the only valuable asset in your last position. This comes across as a big brag and you don’t want the interviewer to think you’re not a team player. 

5. How would you address going about a project on a small budget?

  • What this question means: Here the interviewer wants to know how you can work inside the box. If you have restrictions, how can you be creative inside of them. An organization wants to know that a potential employee understands boundaries like budgets, and can find a way to create something great even with those restrictions. It's a test of the leadership skills of a hire to find out how they will work with restrictions.
  • Best ways to answer: When answering this leadership interview question, focus on the idea that a budget doesn’t have to mean a dull project. Talk about free or inexpensive options that can be utilized. Focus on using the team’s assets and existing materials to make a project great even with a low budget.  Don’t make it sound like a low budget is an issue. Some organizations only have small budgets, and if you sound like you’ll be annoyed to work within a smaller budget, they may not react well.

6. What was it like working with your last manager?

  • What this question means: In this part of the interview the employer is trying to see how a hire will fit into the current organization, and how they'll work with the potential new boss. They want to get a feel for how you respond to management and leadership, both the things you like and the things you dislike. This is a test for how you work as a follower and employee. 
  • Best ways to answer: An organization doesn't want someone who always contends with managers. Talk about situations where you got along with a manager and what made that relationship work well. If there were negative elements, share how you learned from them and how you’ve worked to improve yourself so the situation wouldn’t happen again. Don’t focus on negatives however. Talk about the positive interactions and the things you appreciate in a leader and manager instead. It’s important to show the interviewer that you can work with all kinds of people and find positives in any situation.

7. How do you manage stressful situations?

  • What this question means: Every organization will face stressful times and it’s important that potential hires can handle stress well. This interview question is trying to gauge how you respond to stress when in leadership positions. Workers need a manager who can be calm and collected during stressful situations, steering the ship to calmer waters. 
  • Best ways to answer: It’s ideal to have a situation you can explain that demonstrates how you manage stress. You want to be able to show that you are capable of dealing with deadlines, budgets, and more. When you talk about how you deal with stress, don’t be afraid to acknowledge the ways in which stress can be uncomfortable or overwhelming. This will show that you’re being honest and sincere in your answer. Don’t make the mistake of acting like stress isn’t really an issue, or that you never worry about stress. This doesn’t seem accurate and the interviewer may think that you’re just telling them what they want to hear. Don't be afraid to show that you do have weakness, but make sure you explain that you have the skills to cope and overcome.

8. How do you take criticism?

  • What this question means: Nobody wants to work with someone who can’t acknowledge when they’re in the wrong. This part of the interview demonstrates that you can take criticism and can always work to improve. When you're asked about how you handle criticism, what they really want to know is how willing you are to acknowledge your faults and be ready to get better. 
  • Best ways to answer: The best way for you to answer this interview question is to talk about how you appreciate criticism and overcoming your own weakness. Criticism is vital for growth, and telling the interviewer how much you appreciate opportunities for growth is key. When interviewers understand that you want to improve and get better, they see that you have the potential to enhance their organization. Don’t spend your time talking about how criticism won’t be necessary for you or how it’s unfounded, this only makes it seem like you’re unwilling to learn and grow. They know that every person has a weakness, and they want to know that you're willing to acknowledge yours. Conversely you need to make sure you don't focus on your weakness only, but show that you have many more strengths.

9. How do you monitor the performance of your employees?

  • What this question means: This common interview question is going over your management style. In this part of the interview, they want to know if you’re going to micromanage workers, how you’ll motivate them, etc. Interviewers care about the people you’ll be in charge of, and they want to know how you’ll monitor them and work with them. Managers who don’t monitor performance well will end up with workers who aren’t working in the most efficient way. By contrast, managers who spend too much time worried about performance lose the trust of their workers.
  • Best ways to answer: It’s important to be honest in this leadership interview question, but understand the best way to monitor workers as well. Have examples of your specific performance monitoring systems. This can be software, one-on-one meetings, emails, etc. When you have specific systems in place and can explain them to an interviewer, they’ll see how you can work as a manager in their organization. Don’t make it seem like you look down on others or the employer will be concerned that their organization will suffer under your leadership. You want to demonstrate that you appreciate what workers bring to the table, that you trust them, and that your monitoring is to help them be efficient.

10. What changes do you recommend for our company's management style?

  • What this question means: Interviewers want to know that you’ve looked into the company and have insights for its future. When you’re invested in a company, you spend time thinking about how it can be better and how you can use your influence there. Interviewers want to know how you would bring your own unique spin to the organization. Improving your organization should be top-of-mind for every manager.
  • Best ways to answer: Start with outlining things that you think are working well, and then give one or two suggestions for improvement. You could share things that have worked well for you in the past at other organizations as a suggestion. This would show that you have successfully managed in the past, and it is something you could repeat in their office.  Don’t rip the current management apart, rather give gentle suggestions on the things that could be done. You need to find the fine line between making suggestions, and making it seem like everything is perfect and you don’t think there needs to be any changes. 

 11. How do you define success?

  • What this question means: Employers ask this interview question because they want to know what’s important to you in the business world. When they understand how you define success, they understand where you’re coming from and what motivates you. By finding out when you feel successful, the interviewer can know what goals you’ll be working toward and make sure they’re in alignment with the organization. 
  • Best ways to answer: The best way to answer this leadership interview question is honestly! Think about what makes you feel successful and what goals you’ll be working toward. When you talk about success, it’s best to avoid talking about salary. While salary is an obvious element of success, when you talk about it to a potential employer, they can worry that the salary is all you care about. Talk about feeling fulfilled in your work, being paid for doing something you’re passionate about, or meeting goals and deadlines as part of your recipe for success.

 12. How do you influence/encourage your employees?

  • What this question means: The interviewer wants to understand how you will work with others to make them feel passionate about their job. Leaders who can encourage others in positives ways are more likely to retain workers, get efficient work, and create a company culture that’s inviting and rich. Interviewers want to know that you’re going to care about their current workers and work to make sure they feel inspired. 
  • Best ways to answer: The best way to answer this is to express care and concern for others that will be working under you. You want to show that you’ll work hard to create a positive work environment where workers feel encouraged and cared for. Specific examples of how you’ve motivated workers in the past can help you here. When you can demonstrate things that have worked for you in the past that could be implemented here, the interviewer will feel confident in your abilities. 

 13. Are you willing to work with others and accept new ideas?

  • What this question means: Here the employer is really trying to feel out how you’ll contribute to the company culture. Organizations want people who are team-players, who are willing to look at new perspectives and try new things. They don’t want leadership who always have to be right, who steam-roll others, and who aren’t willing to listen. Potential hires are asked this to immediately show how you feel about working with other people and if you seem like you’re receptive to others. 
  • Best ways to answer: The best way to answer this is to be positive and excited about the prospect of working with others. This is a mark of strong leadership. Share how much you enjoy learning from other members of the team and how they can greatly enhance everything in your organization. When you speak positively about working with others and can even share how members of your team have presented great ideas, you’re clearly showing that collaboration is important to you. 

 14. How do you delegate responsibilities among your team?

  • What this question means: Employers want to be sure you’re not going to do all the work yourself, or not do any work at all. They want to know you’ll find a balance between letting workers focus on their own thing and delegation. Really what the interview is asking here is how you’ll be as a manager, and how the those working under you can expect to be treated and worked with. This is your opportunity to demonstrate good leadership qualities.
  • Best ways to answer: The best way of answering this is to present actual scenarios of how you’ve delegated in the past, or how managers delegated to you that you enjoyed. Show that you have the needed leadership skills to help create success. With real-life examples you get past the vague answers and get into the nitty-gritty details that are crucial for success. Talk about how important it is that everyone on the team feels vital, and how you plan to strike a balance between delegating and collaborating. 

 15. Why do you want this position?

  • What this question means: This is a huge, vital question for interviewers to ask. They want to know what is the driving force behind your applying for the job. They are trying to feel out if you’re just looking for any job to make some money, or if you’re looking for this specific job. They want to know if you’ll fit in well with the organization because you are passionate about the company and the position you can have there.
  • Best ways to answer: The best way to answer this is to show how excited you are about this specific company, their mission, and your place there. Do your homework about the company so you can explain why it fits with your values and vision for your future. Being passionate about what good things you can bring to the position, and similarly how the organization will be a benefit for you will help the interviewer see that you’re a great fit. 

There’s no reason to be nervous when you’re heading to a job interview! Your WGU degree has given you the credentials and skills you need to land the interview, and you can prepare to wow the interviewer and show them how bright you can shine in their organization. Get ready for a bright future with your WGU degree!

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