Interview questions at Northwestern University

We analyzed 262 interview reviews for Northwestern 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.

16 frequent non-technical questions at Northwestern University:

Tell me about yourself
What are your long-term goals?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
What is your greatest weakness?
What experience do you have in this field?
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?
Why did you leave your last job?
What makes you a good teammate?
What are your top 3 skills?
What are your strengths? Give an example
What are your salary requirements?
What are your current professional goals?
Tell me how you set goals. Describe the process. How do you define priorities?
Tell me about your work experience. What was the most interesting?
Tell me about a difficult work situation and how you overcame it
How would you handle a customer with difficult behavior?

According to our research, hiring managers at Northwestern University ask soft skills interview questions 18% more than at other companies.

Northwestern University 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.

Get personalized insights

How do you demonstrate your Fit during the interview? Recruiters say, showing that your skills and qualifications are relevant to the company and job opening improves your chances of landing the job by 95%.

Doing company research and tailoring your answers towards what’s important can be an exhausting, time-consuming process. You may think: there is so much information out there, where should I look exactly? What is important for me, for my particular situation?

You are in the right place! Just choose the type of position you are applying for, enter the job description, and we’ll do the rest.

You will get a personalized guide on how to answer the interview questions at Northwestern University based on your target position. The guide contains:

  • Key company highlights
  • How these highlights apply to you
  • How to build your interview answers to emphasize your relevance

To start, select the type of position you’re applying for:

Engineering

Managerial

Business Development / Sales

Other

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 15% more frequently at Northwestern University 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:

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 are your long-term goals?

How to answer

Even in this age of the so-called Gig Economy, employers are always looking for people who can become their strong and loyal “soldiers,” a part of their “army” to help them conquer their market share against their competitors.

So, even if at this moment this job may be a temporary contract, you never know what opportunities may present themselves to you in this company.

Trust me, your hiring manager doesn’t know either!

So, be open to opportunities and use this question to emphasize how your personal goals correspond with those of the company.

  1. About Yourself

    Start with honestly assessing yourself. (At this moment, you are not sharing these thoughts with anyone, so be as open as you can).

    Imagine that you have all the resources in the world and that all roads are open for you.

    • How would you use them?
    • Which road(s) would you choose?
    • What do you see on the horizon in that direction?

    Be audacious and don’t limit yourself. There is no longer a perspective than “long-term,” so be as futuristic as you possibly can.

    List a few “road” options that you would be enthusiastic about going down.

    For example, this list may be as broad as the following:

    • writer
    • choir director
    • software engineer and architect
    • CEO of a unicorn startup company,
    • entrepreneur.

    As William Shakespeare once said, “We know what we are, but we know not what we may be.”

  2. About The Company

    Now, look at the company.

    • What is the industry they operate in?
    • What is the position you are applying for, and what are potential career growth possibilities within the department, company, and industry?
  3. About The Fit

    Which of your “road” options correspond best with the opportunities presented by this company?

    Highlight this option and focus on it. Imagine, in as much detail as you can, going down this road.

    What would be the major milestones for you, in order to move towards your goal?

    Describe the chosen option by focusing on the first 1-2 milestones, and by presenting it in light of company goals and current initiatives.

    For example, if you are applying for a project manager position in a corporation engaged in the education industry, and your “road” option is “CEO,” your next career step may be a program manager, or an innovations and research manager.

    Explain why you are enthusiastic about reaching these goals, and what makes you think you have the necessary traits and skills to reach them.

    How can the company benefit from these traits and skills of yours already today, in the current role you are applying for?

Get personalized insights

How do you demonstrate your Fit during the interview? Recruiters say, showing that your skills and qualifications are relevant to the company and job opening improves your chances of landing the job by 95%.

Doing company research and tailoring your answers towards what’s important can be an exhausting, time-consuming process. You may think: there is so much information out there, where should I look exactly? What is important for me, for my particular situation?

You are in the right place! Just choose the type of position you are applying for, enter the job description, and we’ll do the rest.

You will get a personalized guide on how to answer the interview questions at Northwestern University based on your target position. The guide contains:

  • Key company highlights
  • How these highlights apply to you
  • How to build your interview answers to emphasize your relevance

To start, select the type of position you’re applying for:

Engineering

Managerial

Business Development / Sales

Other

Pro Tip

Framing your answer in the same terms used by the company will help ensure the interviewer can easily understand your language and help both of you to be “on the same page.”

The easier you make it for the interviewer, the better are your chances they will “vote” for you over other candidates.

Statistics

This question is asked 5.5x more frequently at Northwestern University than at other companies.

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.

Get personalized insights

How do you demonstrate your Fit during the interview? Recruiters say, showing that your skills and qualifications are relevant to the company and job opening improves your chances of landing the job by 95%.

Doing company research and tailoring your answers towards what’s important can be an exhausting, time-consuming process. You may think: there is so much information out there, where should I look exactly? What is important for me, for my particular situation?

You are in the right place! Just choose the type of position you are applying for, enter the job description, and we’ll do the rest.

You will get a personalized guide on how to answer the interview questions at Northwestern University based on your target position. The guide contains:

  • Key company highlights
  • How these highlights apply to you
  • How to build your interview answers to emphasize your relevance

To start, select the type of position you’re applying for:

Engineering

Managerial

Business Development / Sales

Other

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 5% less frequently at Northwestern University than at other companies.

4. 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.

Get personalized insights

How do you demonstrate your Fit during the interview? Recruiters say, showing that your skills and qualifications are relevant to the company and job opening improves your chances of landing the job by 95%.

Doing company research and tailoring your answers towards what’s important can be an exhausting, time-consuming process. You may think: there is so much information out there, where should I look exactly? What is important for me, for my particular situation?

You are in the right place! Just choose the type of position you are applying for, enter the job description, and we’ll do the rest.

You will get a personalized guide on how to answer the interview questions at Northwestern University based on your target position. The guide contains:

  • Key company highlights
  • How these highlights apply to you
  • How to build your interview answers to emphasize your relevance

To start, select the type of position you’re applying for:

Engineering

Managerial

Business Development / Sales

Other

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 16% more frequently at Northwestern University 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:

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

5. 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.

Get personalized insights

How do you demonstrate your Fit during the interview? Recruiters say, showing that your skills and qualifications are relevant to the company and job opening improves your chances of landing the job by 95%.

Doing company research and tailoring your answers towards what’s important can be an exhausting, time-consuming process. You may think: there is so much information out there, where should I look exactly? What is important for me, for my particular situation?

You are in the right place! Just choose the type of position you are applying for, enter the job description, and we’ll do the rest.

You will get a personalized guide on how to answer the interview questions at Northwestern University based on your target position. The guide contains:

  • Key company highlights
  • How these highlights apply to you
  • How to build your interview answers to emphasize your relevance

To start, select the type of position you’re applying for:

Engineering

Managerial

Business Development / Sales

Other

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 3.3x more frequently at Northwestern University than at other companies.

6. 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?

Get personalized insights

How do you demonstrate your Fit during the interview? Recruiters say, showing that your skills and qualifications are relevant to the company and job opening improves your chances of landing the job by 95%.

Doing company research and tailoring your answers towards what’s important can be an exhausting, time-consuming process. You may think: there is so much information out there, where should I look exactly? What is important for me, for my particular situation?

You are in the right place! Just choose the type of position you are applying for, enter the job description, and we’ll do the rest.

You will get a personalized guide on how to answer the interview questions at Northwestern University based on your target position. The guide contains:

  • Key company highlights
  • How these highlights apply to you
  • How to build your interview answers to emphasize your relevance

To start, select the type of position you’re applying for:

Engineering

Managerial

Business Development / Sales

Other

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 3.2x more frequently at Northwestern University than at other companies.

7. 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.

Get personalized insights

How do you demonstrate your Fit during the interview? Recruiters say, showing that your skills and qualifications are relevant to the company and job opening improves your chances of landing the job by 95%.

Doing company research and tailoring your answers towards what’s important can be an exhausting, time-consuming process. You may think: there is so much information out there, where should I look exactly? What is important for me, for my particular situation?

You are in the right place! Just choose the type of position you are applying for, enter the job description, and we’ll do the rest.

You will get a personalized guide on how to answer the interview questions at Northwestern University based on your target position. The guide contains:

  • Key company highlights
  • How these highlights apply to you
  • How to build your interview answers to emphasize your relevance

To start, select the type of position you’re applying for:

Engineering

Managerial

Business Development / Sales

Other

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 18% less frequently at Northwestern University than at other companies.

8. What makes you a good teammate?

How to answer

The ability to work well with others is a critical skill for most positions.

When you are part of a great team, you go to work excited and motivated every morning.

The interviewers ask this question to see the level of your self-confidence, whether you are easy to get along with, whether you can collaborate, mediate, motivate, or even lead when necessary.

  1. About Yourself

    Look back to your experience when you were a part of a team.

    • Were there any people in your team whom you were always looking forward to working with every day? If yes, why did you like them so much?
    • What qualities did they possess?

    And now ask yourself the next questions:

    • Do YOU have such qualities?
    • Would you consider yourself a good teammate?
    • Are you somebody who is understanding, open, responsible, dependable, somebody who can take criticism, be supportive and honest?

    Ask your previous coworkers about the qualities they value in you.

  2. About The Company

    Carefully research the company and its culture. Review the job description so you understand what "teamwork" means for them.

    • How do the employees value each other?
    • What qualities of a team member is the company looking for?
    • What kind of challenges could you help the company/department resolve by working as a part of a team?
  3. About The Fit

    Being a good team member in different professions means different things, it depends on the requirements of the company.

    Emphasize your strong personal and professional qualities that make you a great fit for the company:

    1. Show that you are reliable and helpful. If the job deals with tight deadlines, independent work, limited supervision and needs a person who works with few or no errors, be that person! Demonstrate that you are someone who can take the lead when needed and provide professional support to other team members.

    2. Highlight your ability to adjust quickly and easily to changing situations, taking risks and coming up with creative ideas to drive positive changes yourself. If the company you are applying to operates in a dynamic environment or with other challenges that need a quick reaction, be the person they are looking for!

    3. Mention that you always strive for and promote good communications; this can include using the tools that your past teams have used (Email, Slack, etc.) in a way that worked for them.

    4. Emphasize that you have no fear of stepping outside your comfort zone for the benefit of your team, project, and company.

    5. Display your genuine passion and commitment toward your team, especially if the company’s culture is based on teamwork. Emphasize that you never undermine relationships, you speak honestly and truthfully and respect the decisions that the leader makes.

Get personalized insights

How do you demonstrate your Fit during the interview? Recruiters say, showing that your skills and qualifications are relevant to the company and job opening improves your chances of landing the job by 95%.

Doing company research and tailoring your answers towards what’s important can be an exhausting, time-consuming process. You may think: there is so much information out there, where should I look exactly? What is important for me, for my particular situation?

You are in the right place! Just choose the type of position you are applying for, enter the job description, and we’ll do the rest.

You will get a personalized guide on how to answer the interview questions at Northwestern University based on your target position. The guide contains:

  • Key company highlights
  • How these highlights apply to you
  • How to build your interview answers to emphasize your relevance

To start, select the type of position you’re applying for:

Engineering

Managerial

Business Development / Sales

Other

Pro Tip

Good teammates have to be focused on their own personal development as well as the development of the entire team.

Invest your skills, experiences and competencies into the company for achieving common successful results and have a good attitude - bring a smile to work and encourage your teammates. Then you can consider yourself a great teammate.

Statistics

This question is asked 27.7x more frequently at Northwestern University than at other companies.

9. What are your top 3 skills?

How to answer

This is one of the best questions you can expect!

If you are prepared for it, this question allows you to take full control of the conversation by communicating exactly what you want the interviewer to know about you. This is your time to showcase the best of you!

  1. About Yourself

    First, come up with a list of skills that you know you are good at – as many as you can think of. If you find this exercise difficult, use the helpful questions below:

    • What skills are you better at than your peer X? Your peer Y? Your boss Z?
    • What positive feedback could your manager, colleagues, clients, or even friends give about working with you?
    • What positive points were made about you in your last review(s) that involve the skills you demonstrated?
    • In which areas do you have professional knowledge and/or experience?
    • What records of achievement do you have?
    • What was the most impressive recent achievement you can think of? Which skills of yours made this success possible?
  2. About The Company

    Research the company to help identify the kinds of skills needed. Also, carefully review the job description, this should detail the types of skills required for the job.

  3. About The Fit

    Highlight the skills from your list that match the list from the job description.

    Pick 3 top skills. These are your Key Selling Points!

    Be sure to communicate them to your interviewer when asked this question and at other points during the interview.

    Think of an example that can demonstrate some of your Key Selling Points. It is usually a good idea to support your example with the description of impact you made and, ideally, numbers (e.g. how this impacted the profits, how many customers provided positive reviews etc.)

Get personalized insights

How do you demonstrate your Fit during the interview? Recruiters say, showing that your skills and qualifications are relevant to the company and job opening improves your chances of landing the job by 95%.

Doing company research and tailoring your answers towards what’s important can be an exhausting, time-consuming process. You may think: there is so much information out there, where should I look exactly? What is important for me, for my particular situation?

You are in the right place! Just choose the type of position you are applying for, enter the job description, and we’ll do the rest.

You will get a personalized guide on how to answer the interview questions at Northwestern University based on your target position. The guide contains:

  • Key company highlights
  • How these highlights apply to you
  • How to build your interview answers to emphasize your relevance

To start, select the type of position you’re applying for:

Engineering

Managerial

Business Development / Sales

Other

Pro Tip

Optionally, you can end with a question like “And do you know what are the current challenges where my skills can be helpful for the company?", or “I see from the job description that you are looking for someone with the skills X and Y. Could you elaborate on this a little further?”.

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.

Statistics

This question is asked 4.1x more frequently at Northwestern University than at other companies.

10. What are your strengths? Give an example

How to answer

Many people think they know their personal strengths and consider this question simple. However, to impress your interviewer you must be ready to turn your response into a meaningful and insightful answer.

It’s an open invitation to talk about your Key Selling Points, your accomplishments and to show how you match the employer’s values and requirements.

You must be ready to stand out and demonstrate your unique value as a candidate.

  1. About Yourself

    Reflect on your best professional qualities. What are they? Are you dependable, flexible, friendly, hardworking, a strong leader, formal, punctual, good team player?

    Pick at least three personal strengths that will help you at your new workplace, and make sure you can give specific examples to demonstrate why you say these are your strengths.

    If no key strengths spring to mind, ask your friends or colleagues what they think your greatest strengths are. What examples can demonstrate your success due to these qualities?

  2. About The Company

    Make sure to research the company and read the job description thoroughly in order to identify the key strengths required for the role.

  3. About The Fit

    Recruiters and hiring managers want to know how your strength relates to the job you’re applying for.

    Match the skills required by the position with your list of strengths. Choose up to 5 top skills. These are your Key Selling Points! Prove your point by providing examples.

    Craft your stories using the STAR method.

Get personalized insights

How do you demonstrate your Fit during the interview? Recruiters say, showing that your skills and qualifications are relevant to the company and job opening improves your chances of landing the job by 95%.

Doing company research and tailoring your answers towards what’s important can be an exhausting, time-consuming process. You may think: there is so much information out there, where should I look exactly? What is important for me, for my particular situation?

You are in the right place! Just choose the type of position you are applying for, enter the job description, and we’ll do the rest.

You will get a personalized guide on how to answer the interview questions at Northwestern University based on your target position. The guide contains:

  • Key company highlights
  • How these highlights apply to you
  • How to build your interview answers to emphasize your relevance

To start, select the type of position you’re applying for:

Engineering

Managerial

Business Development / Sales

Other

Pro Tip

Tip 1: Aim to strike a balance between over-confidence and underselling yourself. If you list too many strengths, you risk sounding arrogant. Listing too few implies a lack of confidence or even a lack of skills.

Tip 2: One of the most in-demand skills nowadays is being adaptive. In order to emphasize your adaptiveness, try to think of an example when you had to quickly learn something new, or quickly become a team member with a completely new group of people, or started contributing quickly in a new environment or project.

Statistics

This question is asked 3.1x more frequently at Northwestern University than at other companies.

11. What are your salary requirements?

How to answer

This question seems factual, but it gauges how well you value yourself and how well you know your industry.

This is your opportunity to present yourself as a qualified professional and get a proper salary!

Read on to learn how you can answer this question with confidence, using an analytical approach. The answer may be given as a range or as a single target number.

  1. About Yourself

    The first thing to research is the salary range for your role in the market. What is the industry standard?

    Next, think of your qualifications for the role. Weigh in your traits, skills, education, and experience. Try this exercise, draw a line on a piece of paper where on the left side sits a complete beginner, and on the right side - the best professional in the world the company may try to invite for the role. Where do you position yourself?

    Now, remember that once you start in your new role, your qualifications will be growing fast, due to all the new experience you will be gaining - consequently, your value will rise as well. Your salary, on the other hand, will not increase as quickly. So, try to imagine where your qualifications will bring you, on that scale, in about a year into the new job.

    Map the scale against the industry range. Now you should be able to come up with an objective figure, as opposed to pure speculation.

    This is not real math, however, so your number cannot be very precise, of course. Define a range, which starts with the minimum that will keep you satisfied a few months into the job, and the maximum which, a year into the job, will give you the lifestyle you would ideally like to have at that time.

    Make sure the range stays within 40%-60% between extremes. Remember, the higher the position up the ladder, the wider the range can be. What is the number in the middle? Will you feel comfortable with this number?

  2. About The Company

    Research the company and find out what they are paying. The best places to find this information are Glassdoor, LinkedIn, PayScale and other similar websites.

  3. About The Fit

    Based on your research, does the company fit your desired salary range?

    Now, whether you should be giving a range, or a single target number is a matter of debate. I personally think that a single number, given in a suggestive manner, is better than the range, because when given a range, they may logically gravitate towards the lower end, especially since you’ve said that the lower number is acceptable.

    One example of how to structure your answer of a single target number is this:

    I have done my research and based on the average for the industry, location, and my level of expertise, something like XXX seems reasonable to me. What do you think?

    Besides giving the factual answer that the interviewer is asking for, such an answer will also show you to be someone who takes the initiative, who goes the extra mile, and someone with data-driven and analytical mindset.

Get personalized insights

How do you demonstrate your Fit during the interview? Recruiters say, showing that your skills and qualifications are relevant to the company and job opening improves your chances of landing the job by 95%.

Doing company research and tailoring your answers towards what’s important can be an exhausting, time-consuming process. You may think: there is so much information out there, where should I look exactly? What is important for me, for my particular situation?

You are in the right place! Just choose the type of position you are applying for, enter the job description, and we’ll do the rest.

You will get a personalized guide on how to answer the interview questions at Northwestern University based on your target position. The guide contains:

  • Key company highlights
  • How these highlights apply to you
  • How to build your interview answers to emphasize your relevance

To start, select the type of position you’re applying for:

Engineering

Managerial

Business Development / Sales

Other

Pro Tip

Firstly try asking the interviewer to give you their intended range as budgeted for this role, which is a regular practice in most companies. However, don’t be too evasive and if you see they are not inclined to give you their number, name yours.

Statistics

This question is asked 58% more frequently at Northwestern University than at other companies.

12. What are your current professional goals?

How to answer

This question is your chance to show yourself as a focused and results-oriented person (and this is exactly who you are, aren’t you?)

  1. About Yourself

    Define up to 3 goals. Think about each goal:

    • Why is it important to you?
    • What are you doing to achieve it?

    Imagine a company where you would like to work, ideally. How can working in that company help you achieve your goal? And what about the opposite - how can the company benefit from your reaching your goal?

  2. About The Company

    Based on the research you did on the company, what are their current goals and initiatives? How would its goals and initiatives help lead you to achieve your goals?

  3. About The Fit

    From your list of goals choose the one with the most synergy between yourself and the company. Explain how your professional passions will help the company achieve its success.

    Craft your story around these 4 points:

    • The Why: Why is this goal important to you, what makes it so exciting?
    • The What: What steps are you taking to reach your goal?
    • What’s in it for you? How can this company and job role help you reach your goal?
    • What’s in it for them? How can the company benefit?

Get personalized insights

How do you demonstrate your Fit during the interview? Recruiters say, showing that your skills and qualifications are relevant to the company and job opening improves your chances of landing the job by 95%.

Doing company research and tailoring your answers towards what’s important can be an exhausting, time-consuming process. You may think: there is so much information out there, where should I look exactly? What is important for me, for my particular situation?

You are in the right place! Just choose the type of position you are applying for, enter the job description, and we’ll do the rest.

You will get a personalized guide on how to answer the interview questions at Northwestern University based on your target position. The guide contains:

  • Key company highlights
  • How these highlights apply to you
  • How to build your interview answers to emphasize your relevance

To start, select the type of position you’re applying for:

Engineering

Managerial

Business Development / Sales

Other

Pro Tip

Try to validate your assumptions by asking the interviewer what they think.

For example, you can end your answer with this question: “And do you know what current goals the company/department is trying to achieve?”

It 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.

Statistics

This question is asked 2.9x more frequently at Northwestern University than at other companies.

13. Tell me how you set goals. Describe the process. How do you define priorities?

How to answer

Why do interviewers ask this question? They are looking at how you organize your time, how you prioritize your tasks and how you set your short and long-term goals.

The answers you give will tell them how you work with others, meet changing and shifting tasks and how you handle whatever may come your way in terms of work.

They are looking for someone who is not daunted by change but can roll with it.

  1. About Yourself

    Goals are set for many reasons throughout your life. They may involve personal relationships, education, finances, health, and fitness and of course work-related goals.

    This guidance is focused on your work goals and how they are prioritized.

    Are you someone who takes care of immediate issues and problems, and comes up with short-term solutions, or are you a more strategic thinker who works better planning for the long term?

    Perhaps you are a combination of these two approaches so that you can handle both situations well. Most employers want to see both because problems need a variety of solutions.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company.

    • Is it an organization that provides long-term solutions for problems?
    • What are its goals for the future?
    • Do your own priorities and goals appear to mesh with those of the company?

    Carefully review the job description.

    • How are priorities reflected in the job responsibilities?
    • Do these meet with the ways in which you set your priorities?
  3. About The Fit

    Work-related goals are never set in stone! They might change at a moment’s notice.

    Think about what you need to accomplish in the next week, month and year. Do your plans go out even further?

    Whatever you are thinking, here are some rules about setting goals that work well for everyone.

    • Write them down! You cannot plan for and meet your goals (both short and long-term) without committing them to writing. A formal list is a way to focus your attention.
    • Review your list regularly, be flexible so that you can make changes as needed. Be prepared to switch your priorities when necessary.
    • Match your goals to those of your boss, your department and your company. Ideas contrary to the thinking of your prospective employer will make it harder for them to see you as a good match for their company.
    • Prioritize your goals so that you are accomplishing the things that need to be done right now, followed by those that can be worked on later.

    If you craft an answer based on these four principles, and, in particular, how you prioritize your work to meet your goals, you will be able to respond to the question, thereby providing the interviewer with a road map to your approach to the question.

Get personalized insights

How do you demonstrate your Fit during the interview? Recruiters say, showing that your skills and qualifications are relevant to the company and job opening improves your chances of landing the job by 95%.

Doing company research and tailoring your answers towards what’s important can be an exhausting, time-consuming process. You may think: there is so much information out there, where should I look exactly? What is important for me, for my particular situation?

You are in the right place! Just choose the type of position you are applying for, enter the job description, and we’ll do the rest.

You will get a personalized guide on how to answer the interview questions at Northwestern University based on your target position. The guide contains:

  • Key company highlights
  • How these highlights apply to you
  • How to build your interview answers to emphasize your relevance

To start, select the type of position you’re applying for:

Engineering

Managerial

Business Development / Sales

Other

Pro Tip

Remember, the interviewers want to see how well you understand the question and are able to provide a coherent answer.

This is not about your specific goals such as becoming president of the company. This is information about how you set and prioritize goals.

If you focus on this, you will be in a strong position to impress them.

Statistics

This question is asked 122.6x more frequently at Northwestern University than at other companies.

14. 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.

Get personalized insights

How do you demonstrate your Fit during the interview? Recruiters say, showing that your skills and qualifications are relevant to the company and job opening improves your chances of landing the job by 95%.

Doing company research and tailoring your answers towards what’s important can be an exhausting, time-consuming process. You may think: there is so much information out there, where should I look exactly? What is important for me, for my particular situation?

You are in the right place! Just choose the type of position you are applying for, enter the job description, and we’ll do the rest.

You will get a personalized guide on how to answer the interview questions at Northwestern University based on your target position. The guide contains:

  • Key company highlights
  • How these highlights apply to you
  • How to build your interview answers to emphasize your relevance

To start, select the type of position you’re applying for:

Engineering

Managerial

Business Development / Sales

Other

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 70% more frequently at Northwestern University than at other companies.

15. Tell me about a difficult work situation and how you overcame it

How to answer

Everyone faces some awkward, difficult, and possibly even dangerous situations on the job once in a while.

The interviewers aren’t asking you this question to remind you about any stress you have experienced in the past or so that you can complain about your old job. They are asking you this question to see how you handled the situation.

It says a lot about you as an employee and as a person. They want to know how you will deal with an unprepared situation that might arise during your work tenure.

  1. About Yourself

    Try to think of a time when outside forces created a stressful situation.

    • What was the context?
    • What was the challenge?
    • Did you step in?
    • Were you able to create a solution that could make everyone happy?
    • What did you learn from that situation?
    • How would you handle this situation should it happen again in the future?

    Avoid examples that make you seem indecisive or uncertain, and keep your answer positive.

    This is your chance to show that you have problem-solving skills. Showcase these skills using the STAR method, which will help you effectively organize your response when answering this type of question.

  2. About The Company

    Do your research about the company. What challenges and kinds of situations may you face in your new role?

    Read carefully the job description and the list of responsibilities required.

  3. About The Fit

    Do your best to ensure your interviewer that you are a person who can identify, isolate, and solve problems.

    Ultimately, it doesn't matter how big of a difficulty you had with any particular project. What really matters is the process of how you overcame that difficulty and whether you are capable of handling difficult situations in the future.

    Choose your example wisely: if you're looking at a team leader or manager role, it might be better to talk about a people issue rather than technical.

    If you're looking at a developer or architect role, then highlight something more technical.

    Name your soft skills as well, such as project management, dealing with difficult people, pushing back requirements that were inadequate, etc. Talk only about your fits which are relevant to the job you want to get.

Get personalized insights

How do you demonstrate your Fit during the interview? Recruiters say, showing that your skills and qualifications are relevant to the company and job opening improves your chances of landing the job by 95%.

Doing company research and tailoring your answers towards what’s important can be an exhausting, time-consuming process. You may think: there is so much information out there, where should I look exactly? What is important for me, for my particular situation?

You are in the right place! Just choose the type of position you are applying for, enter the job description, and we’ll do the rest.

You will get a personalized guide on how to answer the interview questions at Northwestern University based on your target position. The guide contains:

  • Key company highlights
  • How these highlights apply to you
  • How to build your interview answers to emphasize your relevance

To start, select the type of position you’re applying for:

Engineering

Managerial

Business Development / Sales

Other

Pro Tip

Any company would prefer to hire a mature person, capable of rising above complex situations.

Therefore, make it a point to describe a situation in which you utilized your strong personal and professional skills. Emphasize how the situation helped you grow in different aspects of life.

Statistics

This question is asked 2.9x more frequently at Northwestern University than at other companies.

16. 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.

Get personalized insights

How do you demonstrate your Fit during the interview? Recruiters say, showing that your skills and qualifications are relevant to the company and job opening improves your chances of landing the job by 95%.

Doing company research and tailoring your answers towards what’s important can be an exhausting, time-consuming process. You may think: there is so much information out there, where should I look exactly? What is important for me, for my particular situation?

You are in the right place! Just choose the type of position you are applying for, enter the job description, and we’ll do the rest.

You will get a personalized guide on how to answer the interview questions at Northwestern University based on your target position. The guide contains:

  • Key company highlights
  • How these highlights apply to you
  • How to build your interview answers to emphasize your relevance

To start, select the type of position you’re applying for:

Engineering

Managerial

Business Development / Sales

Other

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 50% less frequently at Northwestern University 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:

Pick the best answer:

AIf the customer is rude and obnoxious, answer in kind and show him that he cannot push you around.

BListen carefully to what the customer is saying to really understand their concerns then repeat back to them what you heard to be sure you have it right, before attempting to help them with the problem.

CTell the customer that he should have known that the sale is final and there is nothing he can do to renegotiate the terms of the deal.

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Join our Work Search Buddy Network Meetup Group to become part of our growing and supportive community!


This page has been updated on January 25, 2021.

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

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