Interview questions at City of Calgary

We analyzed 73 interview reviews for City of Calgary from various job sites, social network groups and forums.

Here are the most frequent job interview questions asked by HR managers during initial phone or onsite interviews. This list does not include technical or factual questions.

12 frequent non-technical questions at City of Calgary:

Tell me about your greatest professional accomplishment
Tell me about a time when you've resolved a problem for a frustrated customer
Describe a time when you resolved a conflict with a colleague in your past role
Why did you leave your last job?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
What is the biggest lesson you've learned from a mistake you made?
Tell me about a time you had a poorly performing team member
Tell me about a time you had a conflict at work. How did you handle it? What have you learned?
Tell me about a time when you were given little direction on a job assignment and how you were able to complete it
Tell me about a time when you went out of your way to satisfy a customer. What was the outcome?
Tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult or disruptive person. It may be a client, manager, or coworker. How did you handle the situation? What was the outcome?
Tell me about a time when you had to pivot away from a current task to address an urgent situation

According to our research, hiring managers at City of Calgary ask soft skills interview questions 3.0x more than at other companies.

City of Calgary interview question statistics

1. Tell me about your greatest professional accomplishmenttop question

How to answer

Of all your accomplishments (and I am sure you’ve had a great many of them!), you should choose the one most relevant to this job position.

  1. About Yourself

    Write down your Key Selling Points - your top 3-5 skills that make you a strong professional.

    Write down a list of your top 3-5 professional accomplishments that you are most proud of. No need for lengthy descriptions, just 1-2 words for each one to help you recall each situation.

    Make sure you have developed the story behind each accomplishment and have a strong command of the details of what happened so that you can tell the story clearly and distinctly.

    Along with each accomplishment, mark which of your Key Selling Points they showcase. How exactly?

  2. About The Company

    Based on your research of the company, what are their current needs?

    • What are the major projects going on?
    • What are the expectations for the position you are applying for?
  3. About The Fit

    Try to imagine yourself being an employee of the company you are applying to, say, at your 6th month into the job.

    • Which of your Key Selling Points and accomplishments would be most relevant to the company?
    • What “have you accomplished at your new job?”

    Choose the most relevant accomplishment from your list and then practice telling your story.

Pro Tip

Most enterprises are now going through major transformations, often called Digital Transformation.

Do your research on what it means and what is often involved, to get a better idea of the current goals and environments in companies. But one thing that definitely characterizes this transformation is striving for agility.

In particular, for startups (if you are applying to a startup or a small business), agility is their middle name, in order for them to survive among bigger sharks in the market.

So, demonstrating qualities like agility and adaptability should generally be helpful and quite a safe choice in most circumstances today.

Statistics

This question is asked 3.1x more frequently at City of Calgary than at other companies.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Why do interviewers ask this question?

AThey want to know why you think the accomplishment you chose is your greatest, to give them an idea of what you think is important

BThey want to hear a specific example of your work to see if your problem solving skills fit in with the issues and problems their company might be experiencing

CThey want to know if you are a great multitasker who can get 10 different things done by the end of the day, no matter how long you have to stay at work to complete it all

2. Tell me about a time when you've resolved a problem for a frustrated customer

How to answer

Customers are the lifeblood of any business. How you handle a disgruntled customer can make the difference between closing a sale and failing to do so. It takes good people skills to handle such situations, and this question is a good opportunity to demonstrate your people skills.

  1. About Yourself

    Think of a time when, as a customer, you had a problem with a company.

    • How did you feel?
    • How did you want to be treated?
    • How would the situation ideally be resolved?
    • If it were you on the serving side of the table, what would you do differently? Have you had such experiences in the past where you helped a frustrated customer?
    • What was the critical factor in a successful resolution of the situation?

    Try to define your principles or approach.

    For example, I know that people tend to be frustrated when they feel neglected and unimportant.

    Whenever possible, I try to meet in person and establish face-to-face contact with someone who feels disgruntled, so that I can fully focus on the situation. (And believe me, checking your phone while speaking with such a customer is definitely NOT a good idea).

    Of course, this may not always be possible in your line of business or profession, but I guess you see what I mean - showing full attention greatly improves your chances of mitigating the situation.

  2. About The Company

    Every company relies on customers.

    Research the company you are applying to and try to find out what their standards of customer relationship or service are, as well as try to find out some real cases where the customers complained about the company, and what the company did to mitigate the situations (a possible source might be Yelp! or another social media platform).

    Based on your research, how does the company treat customers? How do they resolve customer issues?

  3. About The Fit

    How can you make things better and WOW the customer? Give an example that demonstrates that your approach to resolving customer frustrations is in line with the company policies.

Pro Tip

A disgruntled customer generally just needs someone to listen to them.

The three A’s of customer service can help diffuse the difficult situation:

  1. Acknowledge - what the other person is feeling,
  2. Apologize - for the way the other person is feeling,
  3. Admit - that there was an issue that you are working on to get it resolved.

Add the extra “A” - Ask for the customer's contact information so you can update them on any progress on their issue.

Statistics

This question is asked 99% more frequently at City of Calgary than at other companies.

Take a quiz

Take a quick quiz and check if you’re ready to answer this question at your next job interview:

Customers are often frustrated by what they perceive as poor service especially when they are on the phone. Which one of the following answers do you consider to be good customer service?

APlacing the customer on hold for too long

BPaying close attention to the customer’s complaint in an attempt to solve their problem

CAsking the customer to repeat their complaint many times

DFailing to empathize with their problem

EDirecting the customer to your website instead of resolving the issue yourself

3. Describe a time when you resolved a conflict with a colleague in your past role

How to answer

Wherever you go, you will always have to work with people. This means that there is a greater chance for conflict to happen. This question helps the interviewer determine how well you would fit within the organization.

  1. About Yourself

    Think of the times you had to deal with conflict.

    • What were the different ways you were able to address the situation?
    • If you were the cause of the conflict, how did the other person talk you down from the conflict?
    • What were the key lessons you learned through your experience?
  2. About The Company

    Research the company and its culture.

    • What do they value?
    • Is there anything that you can find about how they deal with conflict resolution?

    Reading comments to their social media posts often prove helpful to see how they react to customers' complaints.

  3. About The Fit

    • What have you found out about the company’s culture and job description?
    • Are they looking for someone who can take charge and resolve conflict?

    Tell a story of how you addressed conflict and how it turned a negative into a positive.

    Try to conclude with your lessons learned or methodology for approaching conflicts - this will show the interviewer that you would be able to apply your methodology to future situations.

    Use the STAR method to frame your story.

Pro Tip

A key to addressing conflict is listening, communication and emotional intelligence. Highlight these skills.

If you're able to, turn the question around and ask the interviewer if they have experienced the same thing. This will start a conversation, which is the goal of an interview.

Statistics

This question is asked 7.0x more frequently at City of Calgary than at other companies.

Now that you have read some of our recommendations, you may wonder: “Ok, so what’s next? I seem to understand these concepts quite well and they kind of make sense to me, but how do I make sure my answers are actually in accordance with these recommendations, and I will stand out as a strong candidate in my upcoming interview?”

Good question. Assuming you are indeed qualified and fit for the position you are interviewing for, the best thing you can do is make sure the interviewer sees this fit.

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4. Why did you leave your last job?

How to answer

This question may be a little touchy for some people, but it's a question asked by interviewers, to find out why you left, in order to better understand how you may or may not make a good fit with their company.

Remember, never speak ill of your old company (this will not go over well).

  1. About Yourself

    Most likely, there are three possible reasons you left or are leaving your last job:

    • You are looking for a career change
    • You are unhappy with your current employment
    • You were let go.

    Whatever the reason, it's best to always speak in a positive light.

  2. About The Company

    Based on your research about the company and the position, what do you like most about the company?

  3. About The Fit

    If you are looking for career advancement or a career change, you can be very upfront and honest. Be as enthusiastic as you can about the position.

    If you were unhappy with your previous job, focus on the positives. Talk about the ways that you will best fit in with the company, in the role for which you're applying.

    If you were let go, focus on the positive. Share your accomplishments at your previous employment.

Pro Tip

Whatever the reason you are looking for a new opportunity, always turn things around to show how you are the perfect fit for the job for which you are interviewing!

Statistics

This question is asked 15% more frequently at City of Calgary than at other companies.

5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

How to answer

This question belongs to a family of behavioral, or even more precisely, reflective questions.

The interviewer wants to see whether you are reflective about yourself, whether you are ambitious and strive to grow as a professional, whether you like to learn and develop your skills.

They are also looking for your ambitions to fit the career path opportunities related to the position you are applying for.

  1. About Yourself

    Presumably, you are interested to grow professionally.

    Think about the possibilities that may lie ahead for you: take a personality test (I recommend 16Personalities which is based on Myers-Briggs test), research the internet on what career paths are possible with your skills and current job.

    What challenges do you like overcoming?

    For example, if you are applying for a software tester position, you may find it fascinating to master automated testing in full and eventually become a software engineer, or you may be a natural trainer and love coaching other people which may lead you to become a QA team or department lead, or you may be more interested in understanding business aspects of requirements which may logically lead you into a Business Analyst position.

    However, if you are happy just where you are and want to further your current skills, that is also fine as long as there is a growth path for you that can be imagined and described.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company to learn what career opportunities may be available in the department you are applying to, and what the trends are in the company in general.

    • Is the business expanding, are they opening new locations, or starting new projects?
    • Or are they heavily automating and cutting staff?

    Let’s say you are applying for a UX designer position for a brand-new product.

    In the future, if the product becomes a success - which is what the company hopes for - the company will hire more designers and you may become a lead designer, or you may become a product manager.

    On a side note: If you train your mind to be open to opportunities you will be amazed at how much this world has to offer to you!

  3. About The Fit

    And, of course, try to see where the perfect fit lies between your own potential and aspirations, and the company’s trends and hopes.

    However, beware of the risk of showing too much excitement for future opportunities compared to your attitude towards the current position.

    If you aren’t really excited about the position you are applying for and you demonstrate this lack of enthusiasm, the interviewer may conclude that you are not a good fit for the current position.

    Try to find a source of excitement in the current position as well, otherwise, you may be doing yourself a disservice by applying to a position you will find boring in 2-3 months.

Pro Tip

This question gives you a good opportunity to showcase your Key Selling Points (e.g. “As I am very good at delegating tasks, I can easily see myself leading a team of software testers in the future…”), and end your statement by asking about current initiatives and goals at the company.

It is generally NOT a good idea to say something like:

“Oh, I cannot imagine what happens to me tomorrow, let alone in 5 years”.

This will show you as a person who is unimaginative and not forward-thinking enough to grow with and be a good fit for the company.

Statistics

This question is asked 54% less frequently at City of Calgary than at other companies.

6. What is the biggest lesson you've learned from a mistake you made?

How to answer

It’s important to know how to answer a job interview question about mistakes.

They ask questions like this to learn how you handle challenges.
They also want to determine your weaknesses, and decide if you have what it takes to do the job well.

It’s a chance for the interviewer to see that you can learn from your mistakes and use the experience to get better.

  1. About Yourself

    Do your best to tell a positive story about how the mistake was made, how you dealt with it and what learned from it.

    We all make mistakes from time-to-time. Answering some of the following questions will help you understand your own view of dealing with mistakes and their consequences.

    For instance:

    • How do you use a mistake to improve your abilities?
    • Are you self-aware enough to acknowledge failure and weakness?
    • Do you take smart risks?
    • How do you view success, failure, and risk in general?
    • Do you take responsibility for past mistakes instead of putting the blame on others?
    • If the situation repeats, what would you do differently? What would you do again?
  2. About The Company

    Before the interview, look over the job listing, research the company.

    Try to think of a mistake you have made in the past that is not too closely related to the requirements of the job you are interviewing for. What kind of challenges might you face if you get the job here?

  3. About The Fit

    It’s your opportunity to emphasize the skills or qualities you gained from your past negative experience that are important for the job you’re interviewing for now.

    Put a positive spin on your response by defining the “mistake” as a “learning experience” that led to your increased competency in the workplace.

    Talk about a specific example of a time you made a mistake. Briefly explain what the mistake was; quickly switch over to what you learned, or how you improved, after making that mistake.

    You might also explain the steps you took to make sure that mistake never happened again. Say that something you may have struggled with in the past has actually now become one of your strengths.

    Pick a story that ends with a compelling example of a lesson learned. Tell your story using the STAR method.

Pro Tip

Make absolutely sure that the interviewer understands that you learned from the experience.

Never blame others for what you did (however, if you were part of a team failure, you could relate this experience, just be sure to own up to your part in it).

Always be accountable for what you could have done differently in the failure. Demonstrate that you’ve had the maturity to benefit from previous “lessons learned” and you can move on with increased wisdom and competency.

Statistics

This question is asked 5.4x more frequently at City of Calgary than at other companies.

7. Tell me about a time you had a poorly performing team member

How to answer

Underperforming employees can appear at any job.

Each person performs his/her tasks on schedule, and the entire team works together to get the project done, but there may be times when one team member is exhibiting low or poor performance and generally displays a lack of motivation. It can affect the entire team.

This question addresses your collegiality and your ability to work on a team. The interviewer would like to know if you can successfully motivate others without it coming across as condescending.

  1. About Yourself

    Ask yourself the following questions based on your own experiences.

    • Do you like working on a team?
    • How well do you work in groups, and what role do you tend to take on in a team project (for example, leader, mediator or follower)?
    • Are you easy to get along with?
    • What can you do to support other team members?
    • How do you act to help to minimize the damage of poor performance to the project?
  2. About The Company

    Research the company ahead of time so that you can present yourself as someone who would fit seamlessly into their team culture.

    The example you use to respond to the question should be relatable to the company you are applying to.

  3. About The Fit

    You need to demonstrate to the interviewer that you are both enthusiastic about teamwork and that you get along with colleagues.

    Be ready to provide a viable solution to this common work situation. Use a scenario when your encouragement was well received and resulted in a positive change or outcome. Emphasize that you always try to create a friendly environment with your team members.

    Here is a simple and honest example:

    "As a server at “ABC,” I was working with a difficult coworker who refused to contribute to the preparation for a holiday party. She decided to sit and watch while we worked. I took this opportunity to speak with her in a calm and friendly manner and asked her to do the small odds and ends. She agreed and worked on the place cards and seating cart, which played an important role in the fluidity of the event. Sometimes, people have hidden strengths and weaknesses, you just need to identify them!"

    Indicate how you’ll handle future challenges if they happen.

Pro Tip

Teamwork is important, but when you have one member who isn’t positively contributing to the team, the tone of the team can shift.

Keep your answer upbeat and avoid complaining about previous managers or team members, speak about your actions and approaches rather than theirs.

Statistics

This question is asked 9.5x more frequently at City of Calgary than at other companies.

8. Tell me about a time you had a conflict at work. How did you handle it? What have you learned?

How to answer

Wherever you go, you will always have to work with people. This means that there is a greater chance for conflict to happen. This question helps the interviewer determine how well you would fit within the organization.

  1. About Yourself

    Think of the times you had to deal with conflict.

    • What were the different ways you were able to address the situation?
    • If you were the cause of the conflict, how did the other person talk you down from the conflict?
    • What were the key lessons you learned through your experience?
  2. About The Company

    Research the company and its culture.

    • What do they value?
    • Is there anything that you can find about how they deal with conflict resolution?

    Reading comments to their social media posts often prove helpful to see how they react to customers' complaints.

  3. About The Fit

    • What have you found out about the company’s culture and job description?
    • Are they looking for someone who can take charge and resolve conflict?

    Tell a story of how you addressed conflict and how it turned a negative into a positive. Try to conclude with your lessons learned or methodology for approaching conflicts - this will show the interviewer that you would be able to apply your methodology to future situations.

    Use the STAR method to frame your story.

Pro Tip

A key to addressing conflict is listening, communication and emotional intelligence. Highlight these skills.

If you're able to, turn the question around and ask the interviewer if they have experienced the same thing. This will start a conversation, which is the goal of an interview.

Statistics

This question is asked 2.5x more frequently at City of Calgary than at other companies.

9. Tell me about a time when you were given little direction on a job assignment and how you were able to complete it

How to answer

Ambiguity is inevitable in every business sector and will arise in one form or another.

Unclear or insufficient understanding by employees of the What, How and When of an assignment, often leads to both incorrect execution of tasks and failure to obtain the desired result. That’s why creativity is an important attribute in new and potential employees.

Asking this question, the interviewer wants to hear about your decision making and critical thinking skills and wants to know how you might come up with unique ways to meet this kind of a challenge.

  1. About Yourself

    Describe decisions from your experience that you made when not having all of the pertinent information for completing an assignment at work.

    • How do you cope when you face a challenge you’ve never previously experienced?
    • Are you the type of person who jumps right into solving problems, or do you first carefully assess the situation?
    • Are you the type of person who always tries to solve the problem on your own before asking for help?
    • Will you step up to improve things or sit around waiting for more instructions?
  2. About The Company

    Based on your research of the company, what are their current needs?

    • What problems and obstacles can the employees face with this position?
    • What are the expectations for the position you are applying for?

    From the job description, have you been able to find out what duties you'll be taking on?

  3. About The Fit

    This is your chance to show your problem-solving skills like creative independent thinking, decision making and logic.

    Show the interviewer that you are a quick learner, a capable and confident person who knows how to think, evaluate, detail, and concretize.

    You can use a form of the following as part of your answer, adding your own job-related details:

    Ambiguity is a large part of my daily reality. I always do the best with the information I have to keep projects moving. I often find myself making decisions wishing I had just a little bit more data. In these cases, I look at everything I have, work out my plan, run the numbers, create what-if scenarios for several variables and select the best possible option.’ Hint, don’t use this sentence word for word.

    Tell your story using the STAR method, which will help you effectively organize your response when answering this type of question.

Pro Tip

Be sure to include the success you saw in your sound decision-making and emphasize how the situation helped you grow in your professional area and how it will be helpful if the company hires you.

Statistics

This question is asked 8.3x more frequently at City of Calgary than at other companies.

10. Tell me about a time when you went out of your way to satisfy a customer. What was the outcome?

How to answer

This question lets the interviewer know how well you think on your feet and how great your customer service skills are.

  1. About Yourself

    Think about the time you were a customer, how were you treated and how could your experience have been made the best?

    Now think about the times you had to help a customer. What did you do to make that experience unforgettable for the customer? How did you exceed expectations?

  2. About The Company

    Think carefully about the company and what they are looking for. Have you found any reviews online that can help you identify what the company's greatest challenge is? What are their standards for treating customers?

    Do your research.

  3. About The Fit

    Think of the company's standards and ideals and connect those with your skills and qualifications.

    If you can remember more than one example, choose the one that fits best with the company industry and standards. Make sure you describe the positive outcome both for the customer and the company.

    Use the STAR method to craft your story.

Pro Tip

Showing you have compassion and empathy for customers is always the best way to answer the question. However, always remember to frame your answers in terms of how the company addresses these issues.

Statistics

This question is asked 3.9x more frequently at City of Calgary than at other companies.

11. Tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult or disruptive person. It may be a client, manager, or coworker. How did you handle the situation? What was the outcome?

How to answer

People skills are highly valued in a company. It is important to show how you can manage difficult personalities, especially if you are applying for a job that involves teamwork, or a lot of interactions with clients.

  1. About Yourself

    Look back on your experience. Have you worked with a difficult or disruptive person? Remember a few such situations and how you diffused them and turned things around. What are your approaches to resolving conflicting situations at work?

  2. About The Company

    • What have you found about the company and its culture?
    • What have you learned about how the employees value each other?
    • How do they treat their customers?
    • Do they have any specific standards and policies?
  3. About The Fit

    Using what you found about the company, choose one of your examples that fits best with the company standards and share your story.

    If it's a customer, how did you turn things around and made a customer happy?
    If it's a coworker, how did you diffuse a tense or difficult situation?

Pro Tip

Use the triple A of diffusing a difficult situation:

  1. Acknowledge - what the other person is feeling,
  2. Apologize - for the way the other person is feeling,
  3. Admit - that there was an issue that you are working on to get it resolved.

If it is a customer, it would add that extra touch if you "Ask" for the customer's contact information so you can update them of any progress on their issue.

Statistics

This question is asked 2.3x more frequently at City of Calgary than at other companies.

12. Tell me about a time when you had to pivot away from a current task to address an urgent situation

How to answer

Time management is crucial to perform well at any job.

The ability to manage your time impacts your productivity and reflects how well you can manage your resources.

Though you often think you know the priority of your tasks, a new, unexpected task may appear and take first place.

Asking this question, the interviewer would like to know how effectively you manage your time, if you leave additional time for emergencies that always seem to occur at work and how you handle sudden shifts in priorities.

The answer highlights your adaptability, creativity and problem-solving skills.

  1. About Yourself

    Ask yourself the following to answer this question effectively:

    • How organized are you?
    • Do you understand the difference between the urgent and the important?
    • How do you manage stress and pressure at work?
    • Do you become uber-focused on the task at hand, or are you willing to drop what you are doing, and switch priorities?
  2. About The Company

    Research the company and job description. Find out what kind of challenges they are facing.

    • What responsibilities will you be tasked with?
    • Will there be a degree of pressure such as meeting deadlines, changing plans, or managing multiple tasks at once?
  3. About The Fit

    This is your chance to show the interviewer that you can prioritize your tasks without sacrificing any other responsibilities that you needed to complete.

    Using the STAR method, relate how professionally you handled a situation when unexpected changes occurred at your previous job. This will help to show your initiative and your ability to cope with pressure and will indicate that you’re mindful of high-level company priorities.

    Tell the interviewer you always make your schedule adjustable and when an urgent situation occurs, you streamline your to-do list to match your new priorities.

    How do you do it? You might say something like:

    1. You ease out of your current task and focus all your attention on the new task.
    2. You list it in your planner to be able to checkmark it when done.
    3. You make a time estimate for when you might be finished, and start working.

    If you understand that you can’t manage this alone, you request that a coworker who is best experienced in this field be assigned to help. Once you're done with this new, important task, you resume work on your previous priorities.

Pro Tip

Answer to this question is an excellent opportunity for you to show your Key Selling Points and prove that you are the best candidate for this role in their company.

Statistics

This question is asked 23.9x more frequently at City of Calgary than at other companies.

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This page has been updated on September 17, 2021.

You can practice answering this question, as well as over 160 other common job interview questions from City of Calgary by engaging in a mock interview with Mr. Simon. As an artificial being, his undeniable benefits include:

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