Interview Questions

Most popular interview questions in UN, UNDP and other NGOs.


Tell me about that last time you were faced with professional or ethical dilemma at work (in the recent past).
Ø What was the specific situation?
Ø How did you feel?
Ø How did you resolve the dilemma?
When have you been asked to ‘bend the rules’ by a colleague or client?
Ø How did you manage the situation?
Ø What pressures were you under?
Ø What factors did you have to consider?
Ø What was the outcome?
Describe a time when you have had to choose between admitting a mistake and maintaining credibility to a superior or client.
Ø What did you do?
Ø How did you decide what to do?
Ø How does your approach compare to colleagues (others) who have faced this situation?
Ø What would you differently next time?
Tell me about a time you have observed others working in an unprofessional or unethical manner.
Ø What was unprofessional or unethical about their behavior?
Ø What did you specifically do about their behavior?
Ø What were the implications of taking action?
Ø How did you deal with the possible consequences?
In most organizations there are rules, regulations and principles that have to be adhered to and some that can be interpreted
more flexibly. Give me an example of a time where you have interpreted the rules with more flexibility.
Ø What was the specific situation?
Ø What made the situation ambiguous?
Ø What did you do well in handling the situation?
Ø What else could you have done?
Give me an example of when you have had to defend an organization’s decision to others who did not agree with the viewpoint.
Ø What was the specific situation?
Ø Why did you defend the decision?
Ø What did you say or do that was particularly effective?
Ø In hindsight, what would you have done differently?
Professionalism
Give me an example of when it has been important for you to appear knowledgeable about your area of specialty.
Ø Why was it so important?
Ø How did you go about establishing credibility?
Ø When has your approach been less successful?
Ø What would you do differently?
Give me an example when you have experienced a setback.
Ø Describe what happened.
Ø How did you react to the problem?
Ø To what extent did others see how you were feeling?
How do you define success in your current role/previous work?
Ø Can you give me an example of when this has occurred?
Ø What specifically do you wish to achieve?
Ø How do you know when you have achieved success?
Give me an example of when you have set yourself an ambitious target.
Ø What made it so ambitious?
Ø How did it compare with other targets you had set yourself?
Ø How well did you do?
Tell me about a time when you worked especially hard in your current role/work?
Ø Which aspect of the situation motivated you to work hard?
Ø Which feedback did you have on your performance?
Ø What kinds of professional concerns motivate you?
Cultural Awareness
What experience have you had with working with people from diverse backgrounds?
Ø Describe a specific situation where you have had to relate to others from a different background from yours?
Ø How could you improve how you interact with people from different backgrounds?
Describe an occasion when you found it difficult to work with someone from a different background.
Ø What caused the problems?
Ø How did you respond?
Ø What was the outcome?
Ø What would you do differently next time?
Give me an example of a situation where you have pursued a course of action, which had to take into account the sensitivities
of external (different) parties.
Ø What were the issues?
Ø What did you specifically do to handle these?
Ø What was the outcome?
What opportunity have you had to examine your own biases and behaviors when dealing with people?
Ø What observations have you made?
Ø Describe an example of when you have attempted to avoid a stereotypical response.
Ø What feedback did you get from the person/people?
Ø How could you be more effective in this area?
When you are liaising with colleagues or others from different cultures, what sorts of issues do you need to take into account?
Ø When did this knowledge help you get your job done more efficiently?
Ø When did you overlook something?
Ø How did you handle this?
Communication
How would other people describe your communication skills?
Ø What development areas have been highlighted for you (e.g., speaking skills, listening skills?)
Ø Compared to others, how would you rate yourself as a communicator? Why?
Ø What could you do to become better at communicating with others?
Give me an example of when you had to explain something difficult to someone who did not have your background/ knowledge?
Ø What did you consider when explaining the concept?
Ø What was the most difficult aspect about giving the explanation?
Ø How did you ensure that they understood?
Ø What would you do differently next time?
Tell me about a time when it was important to involve someone in a conversation.
Ø Why was it important to involve them?
Ø How did you go about involving them?
What kind of correspondence have you had to prepare in the past?
Ø What experience have you had in writing formal communication?
Ø How effective is your writing technique?
Ø How could you improve the quality of your writing?
What experience have you had speaking formally in front of the others?
Ø Describe a talk or presentation, which you have given recently?
Ø How did you tailor the discussion to suit the audience?
Ø How did the audience react?
Ø What feedback did you receive?
Tell me about a time when you have chosen not to disclose information to others.
Ø What was the situation?
Ø When are you less likely to share information with others?
Ø What are the main issues you consider when deciding whether to share information with others?
What do you see as being the key to successfully putting an argument across orally?
Give me an example of a situation when it was important for you to communicate a strategy or organizational objective clearly
to others.
Ø Why was it important?
Ø What did you do to prepare your communication?
Ø What did you do that was particularly effective?
Ø What factors did you feel were important to address?
Ø How did you make sure you were understood?
Teamwork
Tell me about the last time you worked as part of a team?
Ø What was the purpose of the team?
Ø What did you like about working in the group?
Ø What did you dislike?
Ø How did you get the team members to cooperate?
When have your personal objectives been at odds with those of the team?
Ø How did you react?
Ø What was the outcome?
Ø How do you balance competing personal and team goals?
Describe a time when you worked in a really effective team.
Ø What made the team so effective?
Ø What was your particular contribution to the team?
Ø How did your colleagues relate to you?
Give me an example when you had to support others in the team?
Ø Why did they need support?
Ø What did you do to support them?
Ø How did that change things?
Describe an occasion when you had difficulties working with a team.
Ø What caused the problems?
Ø How did you respond?
Ø What was the outcome?
Give me a specific example of when you have encouraged a cooperative approach in a team.
Ø What did you do that was particularly effective?
Ø What were the disadvantages of this approach?
Ø What did not work so well?
Ø How did you ensure that you made the best use of people’s ideas?
Ø How did you go about making decisions in that group situation?
How well do you work with people? Do you prefer working alone or in teams?
Have you ever been in a group project where there were difficulties? How were these issues resolved?
Planning and Organizing
Tell me how you personally organize yourself when you have a lot of work.
Ø Where do you start?
Ø On what basis do you make your decisions?
Ø What do you do to ensure that it all gets done?
Describe an occasion when you had to prepare in advance for a meeting or project?
Ø What did you do?
Ø How much time did you have to prepare?
Ø What could you have prepared better?
Give me an example of when you had to work to an important deadline.
Ø What did you do to ensure that the deadline was met?
Ø How would you organize you activities differently next time?
Describe the last time you missed a deadline.
Ø Why did this happen?
Ø How responsible were you for this?
Ø What did you do to try to overcome this problem?
Tell me about the last project plan you had to produce (piece of work or event you had to organize).
Ø What did you do specifically that was effective?
Ø How did you prepare or plan for it?
Ø What timescales did you set?
Ø What could you have done to be more effective in your planning?
Describe a recent situation where you had to set clearly defined objectives.
Ø How did you go about setting you objectives?
Ø What areas do you think you need to work on in terms of your objective setting?
Ø What do you see as being the key to setting realistic objectives?
Using a recent example, describe how you have developed actions for achieving an objective.
Ø How useful were your actions when it came to achieving your objectives?
Ø What would you like to improve on in terms of your action planning?
Ø What do you think are the key things to remember when developing action plans?
Accountability
Give me an example of when it has been particularly important for you to produce high-quality work.
Ø Why did the work have to be of such high standard?
Ø How did you ensure that these standards were met?
Ø What would you do to improve the quality of your work?
Give me an example of when time pressures prevented you from spending a lot of time on a task.
Ø What implications did this have for the quality of your work?
Ø How did you ensure that the task was done properly?
Ø What would you do differently in the future?
Describe a time when you did not meet your usual standards of work.
Ø What altered you to do this?
Ø How did you overcome this problem?
Describe a time when you failed to complete a task on time.
Ø Why was this?
Ø What steps had you taken to avoid this?
Ø What lessons did you learn?
Describe a time when you delegated a task to another person.
Ø How did you enable them to carry out the work?
Ø How did you follow up with them?
Tell me about a time when it was particularly important for you to take responsibility for your actions.
Ø What had you done that you had to take responsibility for your actions?
Ø Why was taken responsibility so important?
Ø How did you make this known to others?
Client Orientation
How much experience have you had with clients?
Ø What do you like about dealing with them?
Ø What do you dislike?
Ø How do you look after their interests?
Give me an example of when you have put a client first?
Ø What sacrifices did you have to make?
Ø What impact did this have on your other activities?
Ø How was this seen by others?
Tell me about the last time a client made an excessive or unreasonable demand on you.
Ø What made them so demanding?
Ø What did you do to assist them?
Ø What pressure did this put you under?
Describe a time when you were unable to help out a client as much as they wanted.
Ø Why was this?
Ø What did they say about their reaction?
Ø What feedback did you have about the situation?
Ø What would you have done differently?
Give me an example of when it has been important to keep clients (people) informed of progress.
Ø How do you think you could improve your approach to informing clients?
Ø When are you less likely to follow up with clients?
Ø How do you manage the expectations of the client?
When have you considered the perspective of clients when making a decision?
Ø Why was this important?
Ø What did you specifically consider?
Creativity
Tell me about a time when you came up with a new idea at work.
Ø Why was this important?
Ø What risks did you consider?
Ø How did you get other people interested in the idea?
Ø What was the outcome?
Creative ideas may initially seem good but in practice be unusable. How often do you find this?
Ø Tell me about one such situation.
Ø How did you decide that the idea was not practical?
Ø What was the outcome of the situation?
Give me an example of a time when you used a less conventional approach to your work.
Ø Why was this necessary?
Ø Why do you consider your approach to be different?
Ø How well did it work?
In what situations are you least creative?
Ø What stops you from being innovative?
Ø How do you manage these situations?
Ø What would help you to handle these situations more effectively?
Describe a situation when you produced an imaginative solution to a problem at work.
Ø How did you generate the solution?
Ø What feedback did you receive?
Ø What would you do differently next time?
Tell me about a time when you questioned a way of working.
Ø Why did you question it?
Ø What alternative did you suggest?
Ø To what extent were your ideas used?
Tell me about a time when you took a risk with pursuing a new approach or idea.
Ø What was risky about pursuing the approach/idea?
Ø How did you handle the situation?
Ø How far did the new approach/idea progress?
Tell me about a recent time when you went about instituting improvement and change.
Ø How was it decided that an improvement was needed?
Ø How did you go about making the change(s)?
Ø What resistance was there to the change(s)?
Ø What effect did the changes have?
Which is more important: creativity or efficiency? Why?
Technological Awareness
How do you keep up with advances in technology?
Ø How much time do you spend doing this?
Ø What are the limitations of technology in your work?
Which technical issues are the most challenging for you?
Ø What are your strengths in using technology?
Ø What are your weaknesses?
Ø How important is using technology in your profesion?
Give me an example of when your technological awareness helped you to solve a problem.
Ø What brought the issue to light?
Ø What did you do?
What have you done to acquire knowledge about technology?
Ø How did you go about developing your knowledge?
Ø What opportunities have you had in this area?
Give me an example of when technology breakdown had an impact on your delivery.
Ø What did you do?
Ø What were the implications?
Ø What did you learn from the episode?
Commitment to Continuous Learning
What type of specialist knowledge have you needed to be aware of in your previous jobs/education?
Ø How are you gone about keeping your technical knowledge up to date in the past?
Ø In what areas of technical knowledge do you want to become more competent?
Which areas in your profession/occupation are the most challenging for you?
Ø What are your strengths and weaknesses in your specialty area?
Ø What feedback have you received about your specialist knowledge?
Ø How have you gone about developing these areas?
Describe an occasion when colleagues (others) sought your advice or experience.
Ø What had you done to be an authority?
Ø How accurate was your advice?
Ø What have you done since to acquire extra knowledge?
Ø To what extent could you answer all their questions?
Ø How did you know that the information you gave was up to date?
How do you keep up with advances in your field?
Ø How important is it for you to keep up to date professionally?
Ø How much time do you spend doing this?
Ø Which specialist or technical magazines or journals do you read?
Ø What other methods do you use to keep up to date?
Describe an occasion when you felt that your level of technical knowledge was insufficient.
Ø What made you think this?
Ø What action did you take?
Ø What are your current strengths in terms of your specialist knowledge?
Ø What are your current weaknesses in terms of your specialist knowledge?
How have you contributed to the learning of others?
Ø Tell me about a specific time when you have coached or trained a colleague in something new to them.
Ø How did you make yourself available to them?
Ø What ongoing support did you provide?
Describe an example of when you had to acquire additional technical knowledge.
Ø How did you go about acquiring this extra knowledge?
Ø In what aspects were you least knowledgeable?
Ø What feedback have you had on the breadth and depth of your technical knowledge?
Ø What do you see as being the key to acquiring relevant technical knowledge?
Management Competencies
Vision
Tell me about a recent time when you had to take a broad view of your own work.
Ø Why was this necessary?
Ø How useful was the approach?
Ø What would you do differently next time?
It is not always easy to step back from day-to-day operations to consider the bigger picture when making decisions.
Give me an example of when you have found it difficult to consider the bigger picture when making a decision.
Ø Why was this?
Ø What did you do?
Ø What would you do differently in a similar situation?
Ø What was the outcome?
Tell me about a situation when you took global trends into account in a strategy or plan.
Ø How successfully did you integrate these global trends with the work of your organization?
Ø How could you have been more effective at taking account of global trends?
Ø What advice would you give to someone who had difficulty taking a global perspective at work?
Tell me about a time when you have found it difficult to compel others to follow a strategic direction.
Ø How did you try and get others on board?
Ø Why was this difficult?
Ø What did you specifically do?
Ø What would you do differently next time?
Describe an example of when you have taken strategic implications into consideration as part of your decision-making.
Ø What did you do specifically that was effective?
Ø How accurate was your view of the big picture?
Ø What risks did you identify?
Ø How could you have taken a more strategic perspective?
Ø In what situations do you take a less strategic perspective to your work?
Tell me about a time when you have taken into account the wider implications of an issue in your decision-making.
Ø Was there anything that you did not anticipate that would have been useful in hindsight?
Ø When are you least likely to take into account the wider implications of issues?
Describe a specific example of a time when you had to coordinate the work of other people.
Ø What were you trying to achieve?
Ø How did you go about organizing the work?
Ø What was the outcome?
Describe a time when you needed to take action to increase team motivation.
Ø Why was this necessary?
Ø What action did you take?
Ø How well did this work?
Ø What else could you have done?
Tell me about a particular situation where you had to lead by example.
Ø What messages did you want your team to pick up? Why?
Ø How did you go about it?
Ø What was the outcome?
Ø What could you have done better?
Tell me about a situation when you found it difficult to manage the work of a team.
Ø What made it difficult?
Ø How did you try to overcome these difficulties?
Ø How could you improve upon this?
Leadership
What opportunities have you had to take the lead in a team?
Ø Which of these were the most challenging?
Ø Why was that?
Describe how you have gone about resolving conflict between others in the past, using a specific example.
Ø How successful were you?
Ø What would you do differently in hindsight?
Ø In what situations are you less comfortable about resolving conflict between others?
Ø What advice would you give to an inexperienced colleague faced with a conflict situation that needed resolving?
For most of us the occasion arises when we must take an unpopular stand or decision. Give me an example of when you had
to take an unpopular stand.
Ø How did you present you point of view?
Ø What were the objections?
Ø How hard did you push your viewpoint?
Ø With hindsight, how would you approach this differently?
Tell me about a situation when you have had to keep a team focused on objectives.
Ø What skills did you need to achieve your objective?
Ø What sort of strategies did you develop to achieve the objective?
Ø What feedback have you had on your ability to keep teams on track?
Ø In what situations have you been less effective at keeping others on track?
Describe an example where you have had to take charge and organize resources in your work.
Ø How successful were you?
Ø In what situations do you feel less comfortable taking charge?
Ø What do you think you need to work on in order to be more effective at taking charge?
Ø What do you see to be the key issues to manage when taking charge of others?
Describe an example of how you typically interact with staff at different levels of an organization.
Ø In what past situations have you been effective at building relationships with others?
Ø On what occasions have you been less effective?
Ø What have you gained through your interactions with these people?
Ø What do you see as being the key to successfully relating to people at different levels within an organization?
Tell me about how you have set goals for a team member in the past.
Ø How did you communicate them?
Ø How challenging were the goals?
Ø What involvement did the team member have?
Ø How did you monitor them?
Describe a specific example of when you have involved others when making decisions.
Ø How did you go about making decisions in that group situation?
Ø What did you do that was particularly effective?
Ø What were the advantages of this approach?
Ø What did not work so well?
Ø How did you ensure that you made the best use of people’s contributions?
Give me an example of when you have solicited the contributions of others in your team.
Ø What was the specific situation?
Ø What reasons did you have for soliciting the contributions?
Ø What feedback have you had on the way you consult with others?
Ø In what situations are you less likely to consult widely with others?
How would you describe your leadership skills?
Empowering Others
Describe a time when you successfully empowered someone to carry out a task.
Ø How did you enable them to carry out the work?
Ø How did you follow this instruction up?
Ø What would you do differently next time?
Thinking of a specific example, how do you normally go about providing others with the power and authority to
accomplish a task?
Ø What feedback have you had on how successful you were in your empowering?
Ø When have you been least effective at empowering others in the past?
Ø What sort of accountability did you expect from them?
Thinking of a specific example, how do you typically go about delegating tasks to others?
Ø What did you do that was particularly effective in your approach to delegating?
Ø What would you do differently if you had the chance?
Ø How do you think you could improve your delegating approach?
How do you typically reward team members for their efforts?
Ø Give me a specific example of when it has been particularly important to reward a team member.
Ø Why was this important?
Ø What did you do that was effective?
Ø How did you deal with the possible consequences?
Ø When are you less able to reward the efforts of others?
Describe a time when, in hindsight, you could see that you provided more detailed direction on an assignment than was
necessary for the person involved.
Ø What kind of direction did you provide?
Ø How did this affect the person?
Ø What would you do differently next time?
Ø What do you consider when deciding whether to give a person detailed direction versus independence with an assignment?
Tell me about a time when a member of your team made a mistake.
Ø What did you do when you found out?
Ø What was the message you conveyed to him or her?
Ø What were the short-term and long-term consequences for the team member?
What opportunities have you had to identify development opportunities for others.
Ø Thinking of a specific example, what action did you take?
Ø What was your role in the process?
Ø What was the outcome?
Describe an example of how you have utilized the skills of others in the past.
Ø How has your ability to match people’s skills with tasks been appraised in the past?
Ø In what situations have you been less effective at matching responsibilities to people?
Ø How do your skills in this area compare with a colleague in a similar role?
Managing Performance
Tell me about a situation where you have had to manage the performance of a team or individual through a particular
assignment.
Ø What were your objectives?
Ø How did you manage through the assignment?
Ø What was the result?
Describe a development plan that you have set for a team member.
Ø How did you set the development plan?
Ø What did you do that was effective?
Ø What could have been done differently?
Ø What advice would you give to other managers/supervisors about setting development plans?
Tell me about a project in which you had to monitor people’s performance.
Ø How helpful were the controls you set in place for monitoring the progress of others?
Ø What would you do differently if you were placed in a similar situation again?
Ø When are you least likely to build checkpoints into your project plans?
Ø What do you think are the key features of an effective approach to monitoring progress towards an objective?
How do you assess the capabilities of people (e.g., direct reports, applicants)?
Ø What methods do you use?
Ø How effective are you?
Ø How do you compare to your colleagues at assessing people’s behavior?
What opportunities have you had to assess other people’s performance?
Ø How often do you assess individual performance?
Ø What form does this take?
Ø What feedback do you provide?
Ø What advice would you give to others assessing the performance of individuals?
Describe a time when others have been surprised about your reaction/approach to a management issue?
Ø Why was your reaction different from normal?
Ø How aware were people of your intentions?
Ø How predictable are you in your management approach compared to your peers?
When have you chosen to keep sensitive information to yourself?
Ø What made you decide to do this?
Ø Why did you not choose to be open with the information?
Ø How important is openness at work?
Tell me about a person with whom you worked that you found difficult to trust?
Ø Why did you not trust them?
Ø How did you deal with them?
Ø How trusting are you compared with your colleagues?
Tell me about the last time that you had to trust a new team member to do a task?
Ø How did you feel about it?
Ø What happened?
Ø What advice would you give to other managers/supervisors in this situation?
Building Trust
Give me an example of how you have developed an maintained trust in the past.
Ø How effective were you at building and maintaining trust in your example?
Ø How could you be more effective at building and maintaining trust?
Ø What do you see as being the crucial issues to manage in order to get others to place their trust in you?
Ø How trusting are you of other people?
Tell me about when you have had to identify the key cause of a problem.
Ø How did you work out the cause?
Ø How did you solve the problem?
Ø What lessons did you learn?
Ø What sort of information did this involve?
Ø How did you analyze it?
Ø What did you learn from the analysis?
Give me a recent example of when you came up with different solutions to a problem.
Ø What suggestions did you come up with?
Ø What did others think of your ideas?
Ø How well did they work in practice?
Tell me about a time when you made the wrong decision when solving a major problem.
Ø How did you go about it?
Ø Why did you make the wrong decision?
Ø What will you do differently next time?
Give me an example of the type of information sources you typically use in an attempt to get to the bottom of issues.
Ø How did you know when you had enough information?
Ø What feedback have you had on your use of available information sources?
Ø What do you see as being the most important thing to remember when gathering information to solve problems?
Judgement/ Decision-making
Describe to me a complex problem, which you recently solved.
Ø What made it so challenging?
Ø How did you handle it?
Ø What implications did you consider?
Ø What was the outcome?
Describe the process that you typically use to make a final decision.
Ø Tell me about an example of how you have applied this process in the past.
Ø How successful was your decision?
Ø In what situations are you unlikely to take a structured approach to your decision-making?
Ø How would you describe your decision-making approach in relation to your peers?
Ø What do you see as being the key to effective decision-making?
Tell me about a time when you found it particularly tough to make a decision?
Ø What were the circumstances?
Ø How did you handle the decision?
Ø In what sort of situations do you find it harder to make decisions?
Ø How have you coped with these in the past?
Give me an example of the type of questions you have asked in order to establish the facts about a past situation or problem.
Ø How effective was your fact-finding?
Ø What do you see as being the area you need to develop in terms of your fact-finding skills?
Describe the last time that you had to analyze a large amount of information to solve a problem.
Ø What feedback did you get on the accuracy of your analysis?
Ø How did you incorporate data in your decision?
Ø In what type of situations are you likely to make decisions on the basis of intuition our gut feeling?
Ø What type of information do you have most difficulty analyzing?
Describe a situation where you have had to consider a variety of alternatives in your decision-making.
Ø What factors did you take into account?
Ø What feedback did you receive on the success of your decision?
Ø What would you have done differently in hindsight?
Ø How do you think you could improve your decision-making approach?


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