Interview questions for Program Assistant

We analyzed 801 interview reviews for Program Assistant 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 Assistant:

What is your greatest weakness?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Tell me about yourself
What experience do you have in this field?
Tell me about a time you had a conflict at work. How did you handle it? What have you learned?
Tell me about a stressful situation and how you dealt with it
Tell me about your greatest professional accomplishment
Tell me about a time when you had multiple competing deadlines and how you managed them
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 looking to fill Program Assistant role ask soft skills interview questions 80% more frequently than for other roles.

Program Assistant 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.

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

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. Tell me about yourself

How to answer

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

  1. About Yourself

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

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

    Try to give some numbers to support your statement.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company.

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

  3. About The Fit

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

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

Pro Tip

You can also end with a question like:

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

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

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

Take a quiz

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

Pick the best answer:

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

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

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

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

Now that you have read some of our recommendations, you may wonder: “Ok, so what’s next? I seem to understand these concepts quite well and they kind of make sense to me, but how do I make sure my answers are actually in accordance with these recommendations, and I will stand out as a strong candidate in my upcoming interview?”

Good question. Assuming you are indeed qualified and fit for the position you are interviewing for, the best thing you can do is make sure the interviewer sees this fit.

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

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

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

Here’s what our customers are saying.

Amanda, QA Manager:

I searched interview prep via Google and found Mr. Simon. I sent an e-mail requesting help. Natalie was prompt in response. The session was one of the best things to have happened during my job search and interview preparation.
Natalie helped me feel calm and confident. She helped me break down the job description and relate it to my experience. After working with Natalie, I received 2 job offers in the same day.

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Claudia, Project Manager:

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

4. 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.

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 stressful situation and how you dealt with it

How to answer

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

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

  1. About Yourself

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

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

    Most likely, the situation was highly emotional.

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

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

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

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

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

  2. About The Company

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

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

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

    Do your research.

  3. About The Fit

    Think of your ideal workplace environment.

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

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

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

Pro Tip

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

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

7. Tell me about your greatest professional accomplishment

How to answer

Of all your accomplishments (and I am sure you’ve had a great many of them!), you should choose the one most relevant to this job position.

  1. About Yourself

    Write down your Key Selling Points - your top 3-5 skills that make you a strong professional.

    Write down a list of your top 3-5 professional accomplishments that you are most proud of. No need for lengthy descriptions, just 1-2 words for each one to help you recall each situation.

    Make sure you have developed the story behind each accomplishment and have a strong command of the details of what happened so that you can tell the story clearly and distinctly.

    Along with each accomplishment, mark which of your Key Selling Points they showcase. How exactly?

  2. About The Company

    Based on your research of the company, what are their current needs?

    • What are the major projects going on?
    • What are the expectations for the position you are applying for?
  3. About The Fit

    Try to imagine yourself being an employee of the company you are applying to, say, at your 6th month into the job.

    • Which of your Key Selling Points and accomplishments would be most relevant to the company?
    • What “have you accomplished at your new job?”

    Choose the most relevant accomplishment from your list and then practice telling your story.

Pro Tip

Most enterprises are now going through major transformations, often called Digital Transformation.

Do your research on what it means and what is often involved, to get a better idea of the current goals and environments in companies. But one thing that definitely characterizes this transformation is striving for agility.

In particular, for startups (if you are applying to a startup or a small business), agility is their middle name, in order for them to survive among bigger sharks in the market.

So, demonstrating qualities like agility and adaptability should generally be helpful and quite a safe choice in most circumstances today.

Take a quiz

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

Why do interviewers ask this question?

AThey want to know why you think the accomplishment you chose is your greatest, to give them an idea of what you think is important

BThey want to hear a specific example of your work to see if your problem solving skills fit in with the issues and problems their company might be experiencing

CThey want to know if you are a great multitasker who can get 10 different things done by the end of the day, no matter how long you have to stay at work to complete it all

8. Tell me about a time when you had multiple competing deadlines and how you managed them

How to answer

Why do interviewers ask this question?

Your answer will help them to gauge your ability to discuss your time management skills, your understanding of the importance of managing multiple projects, and overall decisiveness on the job.

It will also help them to understand your sense of urgency and to get an idea of how well you will perform in such circumstances.

  1. About Yourself

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

    Remember situations of tight deadlines at your previous job and the many problems you had to solve on a daily basis.

    Answer the following questions for yourself.

    • How responsible are you?
    • Are you able to cope with different tasks and deadlines without getting yourself in a muddle?
    • How well do you organize your work when you have to juggle multiple projects/clients at the same time?
    • How do you make sure you’re not falling behind?
  2. About The Company

    Research the company and its culture. What kind of challenges are they facing?

    Review the job description to determine what you may be expected to be doing in this job.

    • Do you see any indication of multiple tasks that may have to be completed in tight time frames?
    • How would your performance be measured?
    • What will your responsibilities be?
    • Will you have the pressure of multiple deadlines?
  3. About The Fit

    Discuss relevant experiences when answering this question.

    Give examples of specific deadlines that came together at or near the same time and how you were able to meet them. This will demonstrate the value you provided in the past and help create an impression of success.

    Focus on answering in detail, with an emphasis on how the problems got solved, by using appropriate brevity combined with valid information.

    Show examples of decisiveness in planning, exhausting all avenues of recourse and utilizing proper choices of prioritization.

    Highlighting the ability to work with others or ask for help in order to get things done will show your resourcefulness in the face of adversity.

Pro Tip

Here is an example of an honest and professional answer:

In my previous job I had a deadline for 3 tasks simultaneously. I determined which one had the highest impact on my company and put the 3 tasks in order based on this priority. I estimated how long each task would take and planned the time in my diary. I also asked my manager if he would be able to delegate one of the tasks to my co-worker. We managed to do everything successfully and completed all three projects on time.

9. 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.

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.

10. 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.

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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This page has been updated on December 19, 2020.

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

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