Interview questions for Graduate Development Program

We analyzed 366 interview reviews for Graduate Development Program 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 Graduate Development Program:

Tell me about yourself
What is your greatest weakness?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Tell me about your greatest professional accomplishment
Name a time you had to convince someone to do something they did not want to do
Tell me about a time how you worked effectively under pressure
Tell me about a stressful situation and how you dealt with it
Have you ever had a problem with another team member that you were working with? If so, how did you handle it?
Describe a time when you had to overcome a significant obstacle on a job
Who has inspired you in your life, and why?

According to our research, hiring managers looking to fill Graduate Development Program role ask soft skills interview questions 70% more frequently than for other roles.

Graduate Development Program interview question statistics

1. Tell me about yourselftop question

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.

2. 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

3. 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.

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.

Here’s what our customers are saying.

Anna, Director of Brand and Marketing Strategy:

I had you on the list to reach out since it was your advice that helped me prep differently for my interviews. Thank you for your support and friendship while I was transitioning. It had an impact! I appreciate it and mean it.

Claudia, Project Manager:

I used Mr. Simon to prepare for a job interview, and it helped me re-think my responses and gain confidence. Also, the questions were not very far from real life interview questions. In addition, having the opportunity to hear my own answers and read the recommendations on how to respond concisely was really helpful. I enjoyed using Mr. Simon and would use it again!

4. Tell me about your greatest professional accomplishment

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.

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

5. Name a time you had to convince someone to do something they did not want to do

How to answer

Just about every organization is filled with diverse employees that are often called upon to collaborate on projects.

Each one of these individuals may believe that their ideas are the best.

Anytime you are collaborating with others, disagreements are bound to happen, and convincing others to do things your way is an important skill in any workplace.

Employers ask this question because they want to know that you are thoughtful in your persuasion tactics and can back up your position with research and facts.

  1. About Yourself

    Do you remember a time when you had to convince someone of something in a work setting? It may have been getting a raise, negotiating a business deal, completing a sale, resolving a conflict, pitching an idea, etc.

    • Are you both initiative and persuasive?
    • Are you passionate and articulate enough to influence people to action?
    • Can you think critically about problems and communicate your ideas well?
    • Are you able to provide a different perspective to others to help convince them of your view?
    • Are you able to stay patient and friendly in such situations?
  2. About The Company

    Research the company reading the job description and listing skills and responsibilities that the hiring manager is looking for.

    • What personal and professional qualities do they value?
    • How do employees value each other?
  3. About The Fit

    Share a story where you successfully influenced others on the right decision for a project or initiative.

    Try to pick a story that would not only answer the persuasion question but also showcase a skill needed for the position you are interviewing for.

    Your story should display positive behaviors of influence, such as using data and inspiring trust rather than fear.

    Your answer should also display your ability to think critically about a problem and come to a sound solution.

    Tell your story using the STAR method. Be sure the story you pick ends in success.

Pro Tip

Do not tell a story where you manipulated others into following your idea. Remember, the story you tell should be one where you have the right idea or decision.

If you’ve never had to convince somebody of something, then give an example of how you would do it. Your convincing strategy should be data-driven, not opinion driven. Opinions are not convincing enough.

6. Tell me about a time how you worked effectively under pressure

How to answer

Employers want to know if you’re able to work efficiently in a dynamic environment and whether you’re prepared to go the extra mile.

They try to get a sense of how you handle on-the-job stress because it is important for them to hire a person who can coolly evaluate situations, stay focused, take charge and simply get the job done.

This question helps prospective employers to assess your capacity to work under pressure and appraise your decision-making, problem-solving, organizational, and time management skills.

  1. About Yourself

    Think of a previous professional situation in which you displayed excellent ability under pressure.

    Use the STAR method to describe that scenario during the interview, and explain the actions you took to diffuse the situation.

    • Does pressure help you to stay motivated, productive and work more efficiently?
    • Do you consider stress and pressure as your learning experience which helps you grow?

    If yes, it is great to mention.

  2. About The Company

    Do your research about the company you are aiming for.

    • What are the company’s plans, for example, will there be a degree of pressure like hitting targets, meeting deadlines or managing multiple tasks at once?
    • How might this impact you and how you deal with pressure?
  3. About The Fit

    It is important you provide an answer that proves you’re perfectly capable of keeping your cool in difficult and stressful situations.

    Relate it to the job you’re interviewing for; talk about how the particular experience can help you succeed in the job.

    For example:

    In my last job, we had a project to complete in 4 days where it usually took 10 days. There was a lot of panic by some team members, but I ensured everyone that if we concentrate on the task and work real hard, we can complete the project. It took a lot of overtime, and the last day we were in the office until 2 AM, but we managed to finish it to everyone’s satisfaction. It was hard work, but I really enjoyed that experience."

Pro Tip

Do not present answers like “stress cannot affect me” or “I can stay away from pressure,” because everyone is affected by stress or pressure at one time or another.

Also, never talk about a time where feeling pressured was a direct result of your own actions.

If your answer indicates that you work at the same high level with pressure or without it, the interviewer will be more impressed.

Remember the saying: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

7. Tell me about a stressful situation and how you dealt with it

How to answer

Nowadays, professional life is stressful everywhere and always. However, there are levels of stress that are so common that we consider them normal, and there are times when they really skyrocket.

Your future employer wants to know how you will behave in such times, whether you will be a helping hand or a burden.

  1. About Yourself

    Remember a time when you had to hit a tight timeline and to work long hours, hard and overtime; or when you found yourself in the middle of a conflict with someone, or with a group of people.

    If you had more than one such occasion, choose one that ended positively and successfully, and ideally, that can demonstrate some of your key skills - your Key Selling Points.

    Most likely, the situation was highly emotional.

    • What helped you persevere?
    • Was there an element that you enjoyed?

    For example, in one of our projects, my team and I had to hit a really tough timeline for a customer, which seemed almost impossible in the beginning.

    However, we knew that we owned the results and that a major decision by the customer depended on the outcome. This sense of ownership, meaning, and impact gave us energy and excitement.

    Those were the challenges that we loved and could deal with for a sustained period of time. Also, the pleasure of working with a highly qualified top manager on the customer’s side added to the enjoyment.

    Now, after a few years, we remember those times as some of the most exciting for our team.

  2. About The Company

    • What do you know about the company, where you may encounter a stressful situation?
    • Are they working on a major project which is approaching a due date?
    • Are they going through a difficult time when cost-saving is a top priority, company culture is full of negativity and mistrust, they have gone through massive layoffs, customers are neglected, and everyone wears a long face?

    These are always stressful times, and you should try to know more about expectations in the company, and how realistic they are.

    Or, are they just a dynamic, highly agile company run by smart and creative folks, which may work excellently for some people and be confusing and mind-blowing for others?

    Do your research.

  3. About The Fit

    Think of your ideal workplace environment.

    • Does this company feel like it?
    • Do you feel excited and enthusiastic about the kinds of stress you may encounter here?

    If you feel compatible with this company culture and enthusiastic about the challenges you expect here, this is a good chance to mention it and to show your excitement.

    Explain your approach or rationale and give your example from the past.

Pro Tip

If you cannot remember any stressful situation with a positive outcome, you can use one with a negative outcome accompanied by your lessons learned.

However, this option should not be your first choice, as the failure to give an example of a successful outcome may portray you as an emotionally immature person.

8. Have you ever had a problem with another team member that you were working with? If so, how did you handle it?

How to answer

If you are asked this question, the interviewers really want to know not about your superiors or colleagues, they are asking about you.

This question helps them to get a sense of whether or not you like working on a team, how well you work in groups, and what role you tend to take on a team project: leader, mediator or follower.

It will also show whether you are easy to get along with, which is important in almost any work environment. So, you should answer this question by talking about yourself, not complaining about a former boss or employees.

  1. About Yourself

    • Have you ever had problems working with someone?
    • How did you deal with unexpected obstacles?
    • Were you able to find solutions by yourself?
    • Did you take the initiative?
    • Can you look at problems at different angles?
    • Can you find a common language with people?
    • What were the key lessons you learned from the situation?
  2. About The Company

    Do your research about the company and its culture.

    • How do the employees value each other?
    • How do they deal with conflict situations?
    • Do they have any specific standards and policies?

    Carefully review the job description so you understand what "teamwork" means for the position and the company.

  3. About The Fit

    It’s important to show your people-skills, communication and problem-solving skills.

    If you can, give an example of a time you had a problem with another team member at a previous job. Remember that everything in this story should be told in a positive way.

    For example: "I had disagreements with my coworker at my first job, but I took advantage of the good advice given to me by my manager and talked to him. It turned out that we simply misunderstood each other. This case made me realize that communication is the basis of any relationship and that it is possible to reach an agreement with almost anyone."

    In this example, you did not say anything bad about your coworker or about yourself. On the contrary, you have shown that you can find solutions to any problem.

Pro Tip

The main thing is to answer in a positive way, and not badmouth your former team members.

Show your abilities to stay calm and collected. Reaching compromises and actively listening can be your additional advantage.

Ensure that your answer highlights the manner in which you made good use of your conflict management skills. Use the STAR method to make your story logical.

9. 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.

10. Who has inspired you in your life, and why?

How to answer

Almost anyone may inspire us at some point in our lives, depending on circumstances and their unique qualities.

By prompting you to answer such a question, the employer wants to judge your character, your value system and your personality. Therefore, you need to do your homework.

The person(s) you choose should be someone that you hold in high regard. It would be helpful (but not a deal-breaker) if the personal values you speak about have relevance to the job you are applying for.

  1. About Yourself

    The answer to this question is completely at your discretion.

    • Who encouraged you to become who you are today?
    • What qualities do they have that you admire most?
    • What are the common values between you and your heroes that you can use strategically in your career and life?
    • How did they help you to do proper introspection that influenced your life?

    Maybe it’s your parents, someone else from your family, a teacher or a mentor, a researcher, or a writer you admire. Maybe it’s a public figure that inspires you. Whoever this inspiring person is, remember that the interviewer is looking for a heartfelt response.

  2. About The Company

    Read the job description carefully and research the company to learn as much as you can about the company’s culture.

    What qualities does the company value in their employees? See if you are able to match their values to those you learned from the person that inspired you.

    You should not only list people who inspire you but, if possible, also tell why and how their influence may have relevance to the company you are interviewing with.

    Be extra cautious while naming a celebrity, a politician or any other controversial person as your inspirer, because the interviewer might have preconceived notions towards certain people that you might be unaware of and they may turn you away from the interviewer.

  3. About The Fit

    Be prepared to give examples of how the words, actions or teachings of your inspirers have helped to motivate you in achieving your goals.

    As always, prepare an answer which highlights qualities that would be highly valuable in the position you are seeking.

    Most employers look for characteristics such as adaptability, good interpersonal communication, leadership, creativity, innovativeness, honesty and dedication. Ask yourself, what ‘specific’ attributes have you learned from your motivator? Mention how learning such attributes helped you in your career.

    You should provide a specific example that shows the above-mentioned attribute of the inspirer.

Pro Tip

Remember that inspiration comes not only from others, but from yourself too.

Let the interviewer know that you are a self-confident person, who listens to yourself and is inspired by the challenges faced every day, both in your life and your career.

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This page has been updated on May 27, 2021.

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

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