Interview questions at Silicon Valley Bank

We analyzed 174 interview reviews for Silicon Valley Bank 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 at Silicon Valley Bank:

Tell me about yourself
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
What did you like or dislike about your last job?
Walk me through your resume
Tell me about your work experience. What was the most interesting?
Tell me about your greatest professional accomplishment
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
What negative thing would your last boss say about you?
What makes you unique?

According to our research, hiring managers at Silicon Valley Bank ask soft skills interview questions 40% more than at other companies:

Silicon Valley Bank interview question statistics

1. Tell me about yourselftop question

How to answer

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

  1. About Yourself

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

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

    Try to give some numbers to support your statement.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company.

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

  3. About The Fit

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

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

Pro Tip

You can also end with a question like:

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

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

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

Statistics

This question is asked 26% less frequently at Silicon Valley Bank than at other companies.

You can practice answering over 150 common job interview questions by engaging in a mock interview with Mr. Simon.

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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.

Statistics

This question is asked 19% less frequently at Silicon Valley Bank than at other companies.

3. 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.

Statistics

This question is asked 7.1x more frequently at Silicon Valley Bank than at other companies.

4. Walk me through your resume

How to answer

This question is often asked at the beginning of the interview.

The interviewer wants to hear a brief overview, a summary of your professional experience, in order to have a starting point from which they can dig deeper.

Structuring your answer wisely gives you a good chance to emphasize your Key Selling Points and to channel the conversation in the direction you want.

  1. About Yourself

    Print out your resume. For each of your recent job experiences (at this point do not go back more than 5 years), write down 3-5 key points at which you feel you are strong.

    For example, for your current (or previous) job, you may want to list skills like “Excellent presentation skills,” “Employee Engagement guru,” “Analytical skills,” “Attention to detail” (they don’t have to be all soft skills, but being aware of at least a few of your strong soft skills is important). Make sure you have examples for each of your statements.

    If you have difficulties to think of these points, search online for job descriptions for similar job roles, and figure out which of those keywords appeal to you. Look for people on LinkedIn that have jobs similar to the one you are applying for. Their profiles often contain many keywords that you can use in response to this question.

    Now that you’ve gone through all your recent experiences, are there any points that repeat more often than others, or are especially important to you? These are candidates to be your Key Selling Points -highlight 3-5 of them.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company and the role for which you're being interviewed. When researching the company, find out what skills and qualities they value the most. Carefully consider the job requirements. What is it that you will be responsible for?

    Now, write down 3-5 keywords from the job description that you find of utmost importance for this job role.

  3. About The Fit

    Try to establish the match between your own highlighted keywords, and those of the job description. These are your Key Selling Points! You should normally limit yourself by 3-5 such keywords or phrases.

    Now, craft a story based on your career history. You don’t have to go in chronological order - you can start with your current or last job experience, and then go back to your previous ones, or focus on just the experiences that are relevant to your story, and only briefly mention the less relevant ones and only if needed.

    Select one point to highlight for each phase of your career. Make sure you ingrain your Key Selling Points in the interviewer’s memory - after the interview is over, you want them to remember you as someone who is strong at XYZ, or experienced in A, B and C.

    It's okay to focus more on stellar achievements and brag a little bit about them.

Pro Tip

Don't bore the interviewer by going through your resume line-by-line.

Instead, WOW them by succinctly (keep it within 2 minutes) telling a story of how your career path has brought you to this point and how you are the best candidate for this role.

Super tip: The more you practice with Mr. Simon, the better you'll be at telling WOW-worthy succinct stories!

Statistics

This question is asked 4.4x more frequently at Silicon Valley Bank than at other companies.

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

How to answer

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

  1. About Yourself

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

  2. About The Company

    Carefully research the company and the job description.

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

  3. About The Fit

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

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

Pro Tip

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

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

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

Statistics

This question is asked 4.3x more frequently at Silicon Valley Bank than at other companies.

6. 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.

Statistics

This question is asked 2.8x more frequently at Silicon Valley Bank than at other companies.

7. Tell me about a successful project you were involved in. What was your role? What was the result?

How to answer

In the modern business environment, work is often organized in the form of projects. This allows companies to plan objectives and milestones in order to reach their goals, to monitor progress and performance, to clearly define deliverables and success.

With this question, the interviewer gauges whether you have the right mindset for a project-oriented work style.

  1. About Yourself

    Remember a few projects you have been involved in. Depending on your work experience and career level, these may range from small projects like organizing a party to large-scale multinational projects with participants and teams across the globe, million-dollar budgets and high risk and reward stakes.

    For each project you participated in, write down the following:

    1. project name
    2. its reason and goal
    3. your role in it
    4. the duration of the project or its phases (in case only some phases were successful)
    5. the approximate number of people or stakeholders involved in it.

    • What were the top 3 challenges?
    • What was the end result?
    • How did the company (or other stakeholders) benefit from the results?
    • How can you define your contribution in 3-5 key phrases? If you received any praise for your efforts from your boss, peers or clients, what did they say exactly?
  2. About The Company

    Based on the research you did on the company, what kinds of projects can you expect here?

    • What do you know about the goals they are trying to achieve?
    • What do you know about their current challenges?
    • Can you imagine what success will look like for the projects in this company?
  3. About The Fit

    Which of your examples fits best with the projects you may expect at this company?

    Practice telling your story, use the STAR method.

Pro Tip

End your answer by asking the interviewer how they define success for the role you are applying for.

This will provide you with an insight into the company environment and expectations for this role, as well as will help transform the “interrogation” into a conversation, which will give you a break to pull your wits together for further interview.

Statistics

This question is asked 6.6x more frequently at Silicon Valley Bank than at other companies.

8. 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.

Statistics

This question is asked 4.5x more frequently at Silicon Valley Bank than at other companies.

9. What negative thing would your last boss say about you?

How to answer

This question is another way of asking “What is your greatest weakness?".

Interviewers ask this question to gauge your level of self-awareness, your honesty and openness, and your capacity for self-improvement.

Understandably, people might be intimidated by this question; it's because the question refers to your shortcomings. Fortunately, Mr. Simon is here to help!

You can be fairly sure that the interviewer will ask this question sometime during the interview. Just as with your STAR stories, you should have a “weakness” story ready to relate, so be prepared.

  1. About Yourself

    While it is good to be honest and open, it will not help you to put yourself down. What's important is to focus on a weakness or shortcoming that you have overcome.

    Be certain not to mention something that is vital to (or related to) the position for which you are applying.

    Think of something that may have been noted by a past supervisor that was, perhaps, mentioned in your performance reviews as a developmental area.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company (website, social media, etc.) to learn about the company’s culture. What personal and professional qualities do they value?

    Carefully check the job description to avoid speaking about any past weaknesses that may touch upon key areas of responsibility for the position that you are applying for.

  3. About The Fit

    Despite what may seem to be a negative question, you can actually turn this into a positive one! You do this by stating a negative trait or a weakness, unrelated to the position you are applying for, and explain how you have either already overcome it or are working to improve it.

    Be careful with your choices, if you mention any weaknesses that are needed to be successful in the position you are interviewing for, you probably won’t get hired!

    For example, if you're applying for a front-end developer position, do not talk about how you are taking classes to improve your HTML coding skills. Even if you think you are succeeding in your studies, this will look to the hiring manager to be a shortcoming on your part.

Pro Tip

Use this question to sell yourself! Show how well you've overcome a weakness by motivating yourself and even learning a new skill to grow professionally.

Statistics

This question is asked 8.7x more frequently at Silicon Valley Bank than at other companies.

10. What makes you unique?

How to answer

Essentially, this question really means "What makes you an exceptionally good candidate?"

Interviewers ask this kind of question to understand what specific skills or qualities help you to stand out from the other candidates. They want to see the evidence of strengths and soft skills you might not have included in your resume or application, but that will help you do well on the job.

It's a chance to provide the interviewer with insight into how you'd be the best candidate for a role, proving you're someone who can think on your feet.

  1. About Yourself

    Remember, unique does not mean “quirky” or “odd.” It means the skills, personality traits and other attributes you have developed over the years that make you “YOU.”

    Think about your creative skills. Maybe you combine both logical and emotional aspects at work to solve problems? Show that you are not afraid to take risks and try something new.

    It’s time for you to remember your best qualities and share the examples from your background, which highlight what you like about yourself as well as your level of confidence.

  2. About The Company

    Research the company and review the skills listed in the job description to see how well your unique attributes relate to the job requirements.

    The more you know about the organizational goals of the employer, the better equipped you’ll be to connect your unique attributes to the job. It can be helpful to think of what’s special about you and how those characteristics will enable you to make a strong contribution to the organization.

  3. About The Fit

    Prove that you're a good fit for the job and that you are compatible with the organization’s culture. Always keep it relevant to the position you are applying for.

    For example, for a management job, you might want to demonstrate communication skills, strong leadership or a willingness to take risks.

    For a job in finance, you might focus on your discretion or your meticulous attention to detail.

    If you previously worked at a small startup and now you want to transfer to a large corporation, it's important for you to mention how the experiences gained at that company have prepared you to take on the tasks at the new company and have given you a “leg up” over other candidates.

Pro Tip

While it's important to share an example or two of what makes you unique, be sure to keep it brief. You don’t want the interviewer to think your unique quality is “talking too much.”

Mention that you always try to find the creative approach to non-standard situations.

Providing strong examples shows the interviewer that you're results-driven. Never use generic phrases like “I’m a hard worker” or “I’m a perfectionist” to answer their questions.

Statistics

This question is asked 8.4x more frequently at Silicon Valley Bank than at other companies.


This page has been updated on July 15, 2020.

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

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