Interview questions for Program Analyst

We analyzed 417 interview reviews for Program Analyst 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 Program Analyst:

What is your greatest weakness?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
What are your current professional goals?
Tell me about yourself
Tell me about a time you had a conflict at work. How did you handle it? What have you learned?
Tell me about a successful project you were involved in. What was your role? What was the result?
Describe a time when you had to overcome a significant obstacle on a job
Why did you choose your major?
What did you like or dislike about your last job?
What are your long-term goals?

According to our research, hiring managers looking to fill Program Analyst role ask soft skills interview questions 15% more frequently than for other roles:

Program Analyst interview question statistics

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.

2. 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.

3. 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?

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.

4. Tell me about yourself

How to answer

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

  1. About Yourself

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

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

    Try to give some numbers to support your statement.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company.

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

  3. About The Fit

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

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

Pro Tip

You can also end with a question like:

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

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

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

Take a quiz

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

Pick the best answer:

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

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

Hi 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.

Hi 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.

1 / 5

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

How to answer

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

  1. About Yourself

    Think of the times you had to deal with conflict.

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

    Research the company and its culture.

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

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

  3. About The Fit

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

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

    Use the STAR method to frame your story.

Pro Tip

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

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

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. Why did you choose your major?

How to answer

Everyone has his/her reasons to pick a major.

There are hundreds and hundreds of careers to choose from and most people pick a major that will give them a background in the career they want to pursue.

When you come to a job interview you will be definitely asked this question.

The interviewers are seeking to understand your underlying motivations for selecting this career.

It is also a good question for them to learn how much planning and thought actually went into your career selection. It is a window into your personality and interests.

  1. About Yourself

    This is your chance to highlight your strengths and how your major prepared you for your future plans.

    Your answer to this question should reflect your passion and interest in the field you chose. Be genuine.

    There’s every reason to display your passions and interest in your major. They will give interviewers a sense of who you really are.

    Think about who or what influenced your career choice and include the positive influences, not the negative ones.

    • How does this tie into your major?
    • How will you bring your passion and unique knowledge to the new company?

    Emphasize your strong people skills and excellent communication skills, allowing you to connect with others.

    Think of the skills and experiences you gained through your major, think back to assignments and projects from your studies, internships and previous jobs. Consider the skills you developed working on those projects.

  2. About The Company

    Write down a list of skills and experiences you gained through your major studies.

    Then, look at the job listing itself.

    Match up any of your skills and experiences that relate to the requirements of the job. How can you apply them to your new position, as well as the future?

  3. About The Fit

    Use this question as an opportunity to mention a few skills related to your chosen major that would also be relevant in the workplace.

    Point to a good culture fit.

    Be positive, showing your enthusiasm. Let them know you're excited to be where you are.

    Discuss what you enjoy about the industry you’re considering and why you could see yourself working in it. Even if your major is not directly related to the job, you can likely find connections between the two.

    This is also a chance to explain other ways you have developed skills that will fulfill the role you're applying for.

    For example, perhaps you were a biology major who is applying for a job in computer programming. You might explain that you took a number of online and extracurricular classes on programming to develop the skills needed for the job.

Pro Tip

Let your past decisions and accomplishments shine through. Once you nail your interview, you'll be on your way to a successful career path.

9. What did you like or dislike about your last job?

How to answer

Your answer to this question will show the interviewer your overall perspective (positive or negative) of your prior role and your approach to what you liked (or didn’t like) about that aspect of your work. While answering such a question remember that diplomacy is the key to corporate success.

The answer you give to this question can say a lot about you, for example:

  • Can you handle situations professionally when you deal with pressure?
  • What strong qualities (your Key Selling Points) can you emphasize answering the question?
  • Are you a positive person, and not someone who complains, holds grudges or badmouths their co-workers or boss?
  • Do you exhibit loyalty, enthusiasm, dedication, and energy?
  • Are you easy to work with?
  1. About Yourself

    Reflect on yourself; stick to the facts and don’t go into emotions.

    List the things you were responsible for in your last job.

    • Which of them did you like most? Why?
    • What were the responsibilities you liked less? Why?
    • Was there anything you consider completely unacceptable?

    If you feel that your answer will not be complete without a nod toward the negative aspects, then keep it focused on tasks, situations, or company structure, and not on people. The overall tone must be positive and friendly.

  2. About The Company

    • What does your research tell you about the company you are applying to?
    • Will there be situations like those in your former job you don't want to get into again?
    • What are the requirements for the position?
    • What challenges will you face there?
    • What responsibilities will you be tasked with?
  3. About The Fit

    Which of the responsibilities you liked will also be part of your future responsibilities in your new role? Don’t forget to show your excitement while telling about these.

    If there were responsibilities you disliked that are not part of the job description, don’t bring them up.

    By asking about your feelings toward a previous job the interviewers often aren’t that interested in the list of actual likes or dislikes you can provide. Rather, they’re trying to judge your character by listening to the tone and attitude with which you respond to a tricky question.

    However, details of your likes and dislikes can also reveal whether you'll be a good fit culturally at the company at hand. Showing excitement about responsibilities that will most likely be included in the role you are applying for can help strengthen your position as a fit.

    Mentioning that you are ready for more challenges and opportunities, that the position you are applying for is a great match for your skillset and that you feel you would be an asset to the company or department is often a safe way to show your excitement.

Pro Tip

Telling your stories, use the “sandwich method”: start off by mentioning a positive, then mention the negative, and try to pivot back around to something positive.

You can do that by talking about how you managed the aspect you disliked, or by making a connection to the job you're interviewing for.

10. 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?

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.


This page has been updated on September 23, 2020.

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

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