Interview questions at Michigan State University

We analyzed 183 interview reviews for Michigan State University 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 Michigan State University:

What is your greatest weakness?
Tell me about yourself
What experience do you have in this field?
Describe a time when you had to delegate work to others
Tell me about your work experience. What was the most interesting?
Tell me about a time when you've resolved a problem for a frustrated customer
Tell me about a successful project you were involved in. What was your role? What was the result?
How would you handle a customer with difficult behavior?
Give me an example of a goal you reached, and tell me how you achieved it
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?

According to our research, hiring managers at Michigan State University ask soft skills interview questions 2.1x more than at other companies:

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1. What is your greatest weakness?top question

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.

Statistics

This question is asked 55% more frequently at Michigan State University than at other companies.

2. 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.

Statistics

This question is asked 38% less frequently at Michigan State University than at other companies.

3. What experience do you have in this field?

How to answer

This question may help you convince the interviewer how smoothly you would fit into the position to which you are applying. It's your chance to WOW them! Be sure to focus on the experience that is relevant to the company and position.

  1. About Yourself

    Start with defining your Key Selling Points you want to emphasize for this position.

    • What job experiences brought you to those points?
    • What were the job titles and the most relevant responsibilities?
  2. About The Company

    Do your research of the company and the requirements for the position.

    • What is the company looking for in terms of experiences and qualifications?
    • What problems are they trying to solve with this position?

    Highlight 3-5 key required experiences or skills from the job description.

  3. About The Fit

    Which of your Key Selling Points match with the required experiences or skills? Can you think of an example story showcasing this match?

    Nowadays, every hiring manager wants results, so think in terms of specific achievements and try to structure your example accordingly.

Pro Tip

When telling your story, remember to talk about your STARs!
S - What was the Situation?
T - What was your Task?
A - What Action did you take?
R - Talk about the Results.

Statistics

This question is asked 2.6x more frequently at Michigan State University than at other companies.

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4. Describe a time when you had to delegate work to others

How to answer

It is a great leadership question!

Being able to delegate to your team correctly is an essential part of successful management.

The interviewer asks this question to gauge your leadership and teamwork skills.

An answer to this question requires more in-depth responses than many other questions.

As a leader, delegating is important because you can’t—and shouldn’t—do everything yourself. Delegating empowers your team, builds trust, and assists with professional development. And for leaders, it helps to learn how to identify who is best suited to tackle tasks or projects.

  1. About Yourself

    Think of how you would like your leaders or team members to delegate tasks to you.

    Would you prefer to be given a challenge that will help you grow and develop, or would you expect someone just hand you a task that had to get done?

    Now think of a time you had to assign a task to others.

    • Did you have such experience in your previous job?
    • To whom and in what circumstances did you delegate tasks?
    • Were you capable of confidently delegating tasks to your employees or coworkers?
    • Did you efficiently manage your time?
    • Did you give someone a job for them to develop a skill?
    • How did you and those people grow during the assignment?
    • What was the result of your delegating?

    Tell your story using the STAR method.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company and its culture (website, social media, etc.) and see the fit with the job description. What are the key characteristics and kind of delegation skills that the company is looking for?

  3. About The Fit

    You should obviously focus on how proficient you are in leading a team or simply in a situation where you have to share an assignment with a coworker.

    Tell the interviewer how you learned the strengths and weaknesses of each member of your team and you delegated accordingly.

    The key is to show that you recognize the depths of your team by delegating tasks that complement their skill sets. Summarize your answer by sharing the steps you took to delegate the task(s).

    Be ready to discuss an anecdote of a time when you assigned tasks within a group - how the process went and what was ultimately accomplished.

    Here is an excellent example of how to answer the question:

    In my current position I was asked to put together a team for a special client project. I was able to handpick the team members and organize a project execution. In our initial meeting, I delegated the tasks to the staff, based on their strengths and skills, explaining my reasoning when necessary. This opportunity was great for me to show each team member that I had the utmost confidence in their abilities. I played to their strengths and it worked out well. We delivered to our client on time and under budget.

Pro Tip

Answering this question, use the opportunity to highlight your other skills like communication, people management, and time management.

It will make your personality shine and let the interviewer know how you would fit with the company culture.

Statistics

This question is asked 31.4x more frequently at Michigan State University than at other companies.

5. Tell me about your work experience. What was the most interesting?

How to answer

This question lets an interviewer gauge what makes you tick and whether the job you are applying for corresponds with your areas of excitement and enthusiasm. Such a fit will earn you important points for being a viable candidate.

  1. About Yourself

    Review the details that you shared in your resume. Select the three to five best points to highlight and relate to the position to which you're applying.

  2. About The Company

    Carefully research the company and the job description.

    Find out what duties you'll be taking on to determine which of your top skills to emphasize. Try to find out what current challenges they are trying to solve by opening this vacancy.

  3. About The Fit

    Knowing the duties for which you will be responsible will help you identify which prior experiences to highlight.

    How well you connect your previous experiences with the job requirements can tell the interviewer how prepared you are for this role and how enthusiastic you will be about your job.

Pro Tip

Do not start your answer with "as you can see from my resume," even if you have listed those skills and qualities.

Instead, tell a story showing that you can solve problems similar to their current challenges and that you are enthusiastic about this.

You can best do this through constant practice of your STARs.

Statistics

This question is asked 2.7x more frequently at Michigan State University than at other companies.

6. 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 13% more frequently at Michigan State University than at other companies.

Taking the Leap: Starting Your Own Side Hustle or Business

Are you ready to start your own side hustle or business? Have you been thinking about it but afraid to try? Not sure where to begin?

On September 17 at 2:30 PM EDT, we are hosting a free 90-minute virtual event. Click below to learn more.

7. 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.

Statistics

This question is asked 4.2x more frequently at Michigan State University than at other companies.

8. How would you handle a customer with difficult behavior?

How to answer

People skills are highly valued in every company, and even so much more so in a company that deals with difficult customers occasionally. It is important to show how you can manage difficult personalities.

  1. About Yourself

    Look back on your experience. Have you worked with a difficult or disruptive person? Remember how you diffused the situation and how you turned things around.

    • Do you have certain principles, or methodology, to deal with difficult people?
    • Do you have strong people skills, are you good at conflict resolution?
    • Are you high on emotional intelligence? Can you give an example?
  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?
    • Knowing their line of business or industry, what can be some examples of difficult customers?

    Do your research.

  3. About The Fit

    A question like this asked in an interview, may be an indication that difficult customers, or other difficult stakeholders, may indeed be something that you will probably encounter in this company, and it is important for the interviewer to know that you will be able to handle this challenge with good grace.

    If you can give an example of how you handled a difficult person in the past in a situation similar to what this company may require from you, this will strongly increase your chances of showing yourself as a good fit.

Pro Tip

One methodology for diffusing a difficult situation is called “the triple A” approach:

  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 added another "A" to your approach by Asking for the customer's contact information so you can update them of any progress on their issue.

Statistics

This question is asked 21% less frequently at Michigan State University than at other companies.

9. Give me an example of a goal you reached, and tell me how you achieved it

How to answer

Hiring managers ask this question because they want someone who is not just goal-oriented but also is able to achieve those goals.

They want to see if you are the right person who knows how to utilize your strengths, to gauge your potential to fulfill your given responsibilities.

Asking this question, they are able to get to know if you can set personal and career goals and then dedicate yourself to achieving them.

And, most importantly, they want to understand how you view success, failure, and risk-taking.

  1. About Yourself

    Think of an example from past work (or student experience if you are just starting out in your career).

    Choose an example that shows several competencies and your best personal qualities.

    Tell your story using the STAR method. Keep it professional, not personal.

    • What was the situation that led to setting your goal?
    • What steps did you take to achieve your goal?
    • How did it help you, your team or your employer at the time?
    • What did you learn? What challenges did you overcome?
    • How did this help you get to where you are today?
  2. About The Company

    Based on your research of the company, what are the current goals and environments?

    • What are the expectations for the position you are applying for?
    • What skills and qualities do they value the most?
    • What will you be responsible for?

    Make sure your qualities match the values and qualities that the company is looking for.

  3. About The Fit

    Give an example of a goal you both set and achieved.

    Ideally, this should be a professional goal, such as improving time management skills, achieving new performance targets or learning a new skill.

    Your answer should provide a list of the steps you took towards your goal.

    Keep this section brief, as they are more interested in finding out what you have learned from the process and how you will use this in your career.

    Talk about how achieving your goal has made you more aware of your strengths and weaknesses, giving you a better understanding of how to approach your work assignments.

Pro Tip

Having a goal that you have set and reached shows that you have determination, drive and can finish what you set out to do.

Here is an example of how you can answer this question:

When I started working for XYZ, I wanted the title “Employee of the Month”. It was a motivational and challenging task for me. I liked the work and the people I worked with and set out to help my colleagues, supervisors and clients in every way I could - which is something I would have done anyway. The third month I was there, I was honored as the Employee of the Month. It was good to achieve my goal, and I actually found myself in a management position pretty quickly, I think, because of my positive attitude and perseverance.

Statistics

This question is asked 13.2x more frequently at Michigan State University than at other companies.

10. 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 3.9x more frequently at Michigan State University than at other companies.

11. 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 34% less frequently at Michigan State University than at other companies.

12. 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 74% less frequently at Michigan State University than at other companies.


This page has been updated on August 10, 2020.

Taking the Leap: Starting Your Own Side Hustle or Business

Are you ready to start your own side hustle or business? Have you been thinking about it but afraid to try? Not sure where to begin?

On September 17 at 2:30 PM EDT, we are hosting a free 90-minute virtual event. Click below to learn more.