Being Prepared For Interview Questions

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Editor’s Note:  The Coffee House Mentor is a series of 10 topics that discuss all aspects of the job search process.  This week’s blog is preparing you for answering interview questions.  This is the eighth article in the series.  To review any of the previous seven articles, go to our Home Page at

Brian was excited to share his good news as the mentoring group arrived for their weekly meeting.  His interview earlier in the week went well and he was offered the job.  Brian accepted the position and is now the new Senior Web Designer at E. G. Enterprises.

The group shared in his excitement and they spent the first 10 minutes of the session wishing Brian well in his new ventures.  As the well-wishing was dying down, Cece asked what helped him the most in his actual interview session.  Brian was quick to explain how he learned how to properly and effectively answer interview questions in chapter seven in the book “Getting Hired in College Sports”.  Rob was familiar with this book from his days as an athletic director and had each mentee purchase a copy so they would be properly prepared for every aspect of the interview process.

Brian continued to explain what he had learned, and shared that there are five basic types of interview questions:

  • Personal questions
  • Competency-based questions
  • Performance-based questions
  •  Company-based questions
  •  Position-specific questions

He continued by sharing that personal questions focus on you and your personality.  This includes information on your background, your character, and your value system.  The intent of these questions is to find out if you would be a good fit within the organization.  An example of a personal question is “Tell me about yourself”.

Competency-based questions are designed to determine if you are qualified for the position.  They focus on your skills, abilities, strengths, and experiences.  An example of a competency-based question is “What are your strengths (or weaknesses)”.

Performance-based questions focus on how you have performed in your previous positions or how you would handle a specific problem.  These types of questions are also designed to see if you are qualified for the position and to see if you are a good fit within the organization.  An example of a performance-based question is “What is your greatest accomplishment”.

Company-based questions are designed to see if you will be a good fit within the organization.  They focus on why you want to work for that particular company.  Company-based questions can include “Why do you want to work for us” or “What distinguishes you from the other people we are interviewing today”.

Finally, the fifth type of interview question is a position-specific question.  They are designed to test your knowledge about the actual job.  An example of a position-specific question is “What is your management style”.

Brian went on to explain that in order to ace your interview, you will need to be prepared to answer questions from each of these five categories.  You will want to prepare yourself by writing out answers to possible interview questions and then practice reciting your answers.  This practice is important so you will be able to respond naturally and without hesitation to the questions asked by the search committee.  Remember, ultimately the job will go to the candidate who is prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job interview process. In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS! 


Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University.  He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach.  He is also an author of 9 books.  Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at or his new book, Execute for Success, which will be released on October 1, 2013 and is currently available at a pre-publication discount at



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