Interview questions for ETL

We analyzed 182 interview reviews for ETL 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.

10 frequent non-technical questions for ETL:

What is the biggest lesson you've learned from a mistake you made?
Tell me about a time when you had an issue with your previous boss
Tell me about a time you had to raise an uncomfortable issue with your manager
Tell me about yourself
Describe a time when you had to overcome a significant obstacle on a job
What is your greatest weakness?
Tell me about a time you had a conflict at work. How did you handle it? What have you learned?
Tell me about a successful project you were involved in. What was your role? What was the result?
Describe a time when you resolved a conflict with a colleague in your past role
Describe a situation where you've had to deliver bad news to a customer, or your boss

According to our research, hiring managers looking to fill ETL role ask soft skills interview questions 3.0x more frequently than for other roles.

ETL interview question statistics

1. What is the biggest lesson you've learned from a mistake you made?top question

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.

2. Tell me about a time when you had an issue with your previous boss

How to answer

Every relationship, both personal and professional, encounters some sort of issues. This is why disagreements at work, especially with your manager, are likely to happen.

Hiring managers ask this question to get a sense of how you might handle possible disagreements with them once you are hired.

They want someone who can speak the truth to them in a way that builds a strong, positive relationship.

They are curious about the respect you show to a higher authority while having the courage enough to stand up for what you believe in.

Finally, they want to discover whether you are a team player who can get along well with your boss and others in the workplace.

  1. About Yourself

    Think of an issue you had with your boss, and how you behaved in that situation.

    Which of the following elements played a role in that circumstance?

    • What’s your ‘conflict style’?
    • What’s your ideal way to solve a disagreement?
    • Do you get very stressed out and confront it head-on?
    • Do you just go along with what the boss wants even if you don’t agree?
    • Or do you push forward until change happens?
    • Are you able to be positive even about difficult situations?
    • How did you personally grow from the 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?
    • What problems and obstacles might an employee face in a conflict situation with this company?
  3. About The Fit

    Whatever you say regarding your old or current boss, keep it factual, relevant and positive.

    The best way to respond is to use an example that illustrates a situation where you were able to persuade your boss to try things your way — and ultimately, it worked out well for both of you.

    Your story should ideally show how competent you are at your work and how you will be a good fit for the company.

    This answer can also display other great skills such as negotiating, selling an idea and inspiring others. Answer this question using the STAR method.

    Your answer should reflect your strong communication skills, how you took appropriate action, and end with a good outcome. Try to keep the story to around 60 seconds but no longer than a minute and a half.

Pro Tip

Your response will reveal your interpersonal skills and your ability to create smooth working relationships even in difficult situations, which are important in every job.

Don’t speak badly about your previous supervisor; answer this question with extreme tact and diplomacy.

The key to a successful resolution of any issue is to fully listen and understand the other person’s perspective, then work together to come up with a solution. If you can identify a common goal, the solution is easier to find.

3. Tell me about a time you had to raise an uncomfortable issue with your manager

How to answer

Even though you may have a great relationship with your manager, there may have been times where you did not see eye to eye.

By describing how you managed to deal with an uncomfortable issue in the past, you give the interviewer insight into how you’d handle one in the future.

They are curious about the respect you show to a higher authority while having the courage to stand up for what you believe in.

  1. About Yourself

    Think of a conflict or disagreement you had with your manager where you responded well, either by suggesting a compromise or taking a calm, relaxed stance when you could have answered in a heated tone.

    Getting along well with your manager shows your desire to work together and highlights your creative problem-solving abilities.

    • What was the resolution of an issue?
    • Did you and your manager come to an agreement?
  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?
    • What problems and obstacles might employees face in the position you are applying for?
  3. About The Fit

    Your story should ideally show how competent you are at your work, which will give the hiring manager confidence in hiring you. This answer can also display other great skills such as negotiating, selling an idea and inspiring others.

    Your answer can sound like this:

    I usually avoid conflict because I’ve been building trust with my colleagues from the start. I understand that the final decision is up to my boss, and I have to help him find the best option. I was lucky to have a very good relationship with my superiors. At my last job, I had a disagreement with the manager about the launch date of the product. But he listened to my opinion and we came up with a solution that we both liked.”

    You should respond with an example using the STAR method to make your story concise and logical.

Pro Tip

Say that it is better to raise uncomfortable questions and ask them directly. Emphasize that you always initiate communication by setting the tone of the conversation in a format of frankness on both sides.

A sincere and respectful conversation builds trust between people, even when the subject of your discussion may be difficult for each part.

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.

There are two ways how you can leverage Mr. Simon’s expertise to help you shine your best:

  1. Go ahead and practice with the Mr. Simon app - it is a completely free, fun and helpful experience!
  2. Request a mock interview with a real human career mentor. During the session we will help you identify your Key Selling Points to emphasize in the interview, and to present them in a way that strongly communicates your value to the company. The 1-hour session costs USD 79.99 and is supplemented by 2 weeks of support via email, free of additional charge.

To request the session, shoot us an email to coaching@mrsimon.ai and attach your resume and job description to expedite the process.

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4. Tell me about yourself

How to answer

This question may sound vague, but it actually requires a matter of fact, concise and relevant answer. Here’s how you can approach it.

  1. About Yourself

    What is your current occupation? Define yourself professionally in one statement.

    Pick 3 key skills that make you great at your work (your Key Selling Points). How have you applied these skills?

    Try to give some numbers to support your statement.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company.

    Based on what you know about the company and the job description, why are you interested in the position you are applying for?

  3. About The Fit

    • Based on your Key Selling Points and your knowledge about the company, why do you think you are a good fit for this position?
    • Can you support your statement with relevant examples from your past experiences?

    Try to be concise and stay within 1-2 minutes.

Pro Tip

You can also end with a question like:

Do you know what the current needs in the company/department are, where my skills and experience can help?"

That can help you learn more about the company and the job, turn the "interrogation" into a conversation and will allow you to relax some tension.

Read our blog post to learn more about how to answer this question.

Take a quiz

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

Pick the best answer:

AMy name is Andrew Franklin, I am 28 years old, and I am looking for a job that pays well.

BHello, my name is Natalie Price. I have two children and I love playing billiards and travelling. I am 33 years old.

CHi Mr. Simon, my name is Stanley Clark and I am a certified Project Management professional known for completing projects on time and on budget. I am passionate about building agile work culture and delivering results.

DHi Mr. Simon, my name is Dorothy Hanson. I have previously worked as an accountant in retail, but currently I am trying to transition into the field of healthcare.

5. Describe a time when you had to overcome a significant obstacle on a job

How to answer

This is a tough question because you’re forced to talk about a difficult time with a complete stranger. Fortunately, it’s also a great opportunity to turn a big challenge into a great accomplishment.

This question is designed to help the interviewer discover what type of problem-solver you are.

Why do employers ask this question?

It’s because they want to know that they’re hiring someone who can think on their feet and who is resilient when facing challenges.

  1. About Yourself

    It’s your chance to show that in tough times you turn to your inner strength and possess skills to find the right solutions.

    You probably had to solve many problems daily at work. It’s high time to remember them.

    If you do not prepare examples in advance, this question will get you off guard and you will find it difficult to remember all the details on the move.

    Start with recalling a few examples of real obstacles you coped with. For each of them, think about:

    • What was the project or task you were trying to accomplish?
    • What was the obstacle? This can be a specific problem related to your job or a higher-order issue across the organization.
    • What steps did you take to address the issue?
    • What decisions did you have to make?
    • How did the company benefit from your decisions?
    • How would you describe your approach, or what lessons have you learned?

    Be careful how you respond to this question. Make sure that you select a difficult work situation where you were not the cause.

  2. About The Company

    When you research the company, try and find out what kind of challenges they are facing. Try to find out what they need in terms of problem resolution.

    Search for online reviews, complaints and any other useful resources. What problems and obstacles can the employees face with this position?

  3. About The Fit

    This is your opportunity to showcase your problem-solving skills, resilience, and strength of character. Talk through your problem-solving process and show how you can think on your feet.

    Pick an example relevant to the position you are aiming for.

    Let’s say, you are applying for a blog writing job. The job description mentions that a successful candidate must have experience working “in a dynamic environment.”

    You could mention a situation in which you had to write an article on short notice because your coworker failed at the last moment to complete the assignment. You were short of time but worked extra hours to prepare the article successfully and on time.

    This answer would show your experience in blog writing, your sense of responsibility, ability to achieve results under stress, your willingness to go the extra mile, your problem-solving skills.

Pro Tip

This question is not about your past, it's how you deal with things that will happen in the future, so try to keep your answer short and focused.

After all, the interviewer is really looking for what you took away from the situation and doesn’t need to know the full backstory of what happened.

Use the STAR method to prepare your story and practice it so that you can stay within 1-2 minutes.

Make sure to show that you remained positive when overcoming a hurdle at work. Positive attitudes lead to positive outcomes.

6. What is your greatest weakness?

How to answer

This question ranks as the most challenging for many people. Fortunately, Mr. Simon is here to help!

Interviewers ask this question to gauge your level of self-awareness, your honesty and openness, and your capability for self-improvement.

  1. About Yourself

    No one is perfect and your interviewer doesn't expect you to be perfect either.

    While it is good to be honest and open, it will not help you to put yourself down.

    What's important is to find a weakness that you have overcome or something that is not related to the position for which you are applying.

    For example, one of our clients admitted that he is not very good at public speaking and that he has recently become a member of Toastmasters International to improve. What a respectful answer and approach, in my view!

  2. About The Company

    Research the company (website, social media, etc) to learn about the company culture.

    What personal and professional qualities do they value?

  3. About The Fit

    It is important that the weakness you decide to talk about is not one that will prevent you from performing the job for which you're applying.

    For example, if you're applying for a front-end developer position, do not talk about how you are struggling to understand HTML code.

Pro Tip

Use this question to sell yourself!

It's important to show how well you've overcome a weakness by motivating yourself and learning a new skill to grow professionally.

Take a quiz

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

Which of the following would be the best answer:

ASometimes I just work too hard

BI have trouble saying “no” when a colleague asks for help and I have my own work to finish

CI am a perfectionist

DI cannot think of a single thing

7. 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.

8. Tell me about a successful project you were involved in. What was your role? What was the result?

How to answer

In the modern business environment, work is often organized in the form of projects. This allows companies to plan objectives and milestones in order to reach their goals, to monitor progress and performance, to clearly define deliverables and success.

With this question, the interviewer gauges whether you have the right mindset for a project-oriented work style.

  1. About Yourself

    Remember a few projects you have been involved in. Depending on your work experience and career level, these may range from small projects like organizing a party to large-scale multinational projects with participants and teams across the globe, million-dollar budgets and high risk and reward stakes.

    For each project you participated in, write down the following:

    1. project name
    2. its reason and goal
    3. your role in it
    4. the duration of the project or its phases (in case only some phases were successful)
    5. the approximate number of people or stakeholders involved in it.

    • What were the top 3 challenges?
    • What was the end result?
    • How did the company (or other stakeholders) benefit from the results?
    • How can you define your contribution in 3-5 key phrases? If you received any praise for your efforts from your boss, peers or clients, what did they say exactly?
  2. About The Company

    Based on the research you did on the company, what kinds of projects can you expect here?

    • What do you know about the goals they are trying to achieve?
    • What do you know about their current challenges?
    • Can you imagine what success will look like for the projects in this company?
  3. About The Fit

    Which of your examples fits best with the projects you may expect at this company?

    Practice telling your story, use the STAR method.

Pro Tip

End your answer by asking the interviewer how they define success for the role you are applying for.

This will provide you with an insight into the company environment and expectations for this role, as well as will help transform the “interrogation” into a conversation, which will give you a break to pull your wits together for further interview.

9. 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.

10. Describe a situation where you've had to deliver bad news to a customer, or your boss

How to answer

Things do go wrong from time-to-time and bringing bad news to your boss or to an important customer sometimes goes with the job.

Why do interviewers ask this question? With its help, they have the opportunity to see how you handle stressful situations at work, your level of emotional intelligence, and your problem-solving and quick decision-making skills.

  1. About Yourself

    Remember a tough situation from your previous jobs.

    • What did you feel at that time?
    • What steps did you take to minimize the damage?
    • How did you deliver bad news without it becoming a shoot-the-messenger scenario?
    • What did you learn from that situation?
    • How would you handle a similar situation should it happen again in the future?
  2. About The Company

    Do your research about the company.

    What challenges and kinds of situations might you face in your new role?

    For example, does the company pride itself on its on-time delivery to its customers?

    This would be a good thing to know going into an interview. Read the job description carefully and the list of responsibilities required.

  3. About The Fit

    Have at least 1-2 stories from your experience ready before the interview.

    Describe the situation by using the STAR method.

    Ensure the interviewer that you always try to stay calm and keep your emotions under control when a stressful situation occurs. That will demonstrate that you are prepared and professional.

    Your attitude and the clarity of your message are two very important components in this conversation. The sooner you report your bad news to the boss or a customer, the more likely it is to fix it or at least minimize the damage.

    You always get yourself prepared for all the questions that may arise about the bad news you’re sharing or about potential solutions to the problematic situation.

    And surely you, as an ideal candidate, always have in mind possible techniques to correct the situation.

Pro Tip

Bad news takes many forms.

For instance, you have to tell the customer his order will be delayed for at least a month; or you have to let the boss know that the firm may have lost a very important customer due to continued delays in shipping goods to them.

You might be able to say to the interviewer that your previous co-workers often selected you to voice bad news. Not because it was your fault, but because you inspire confidence and security among the staff and clients.

This will be your additional advantage and will benefit you over other candidates for this role.

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This page has been updated on April 17, 2021.

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

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