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Common Interview Questions

Please prepare (i.e., write out) the ones that are in bold.

General
- Describe your greatest strength (or three strengths).
- Describe your greatest weakness (or three weaknesses).
- What would your friends say about you?
- Describe a time when you accomplished something difficult. What was the situation,
how did you tackle it, what were the results, and why did it make you feel proud?
- Describe a time when something on which youd worked very hard turned out to be a
disappointment (or you did not meet a goal you had set). What was the situation, what
went wrong, what did you take away from the experience, and how have you applied that
knowledge to later situations?
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why did you choose Iowa? Do you like it?
- Why are you majoring in finance (etc.)?
- Are you analytical? Give me some examples of when you have excelled in an analytical
task.
- Why should I hire you?
- Do you work really hard, or are you smarter than everyone else?
- Would you rather be liked or feared?
- What do you do in your free time?

Company- or Industry-Specific Questions


- Why are you interested in this company?
- Why are you interested in this industry?
- What makes you qualified for this position?
- Why are you interested in this position at this company?
- What sets us apart from our competitors in your mind?
- What is your understanding of what a person in this role does?

Finance/Accounting Questions
- What stocks do you follow? Which stocks do you recommend and why?
- Walk me through valuing a stock (or bond).
- What do you think about the economy (or stock market) right now? Where is it headed?
- Walk me through the Capital Asset Pricing Model.
- Walk me through how to find the Weighted Average Cost of Capital.
- Walk me through a DCF analysis. What are the pitfalls of this technique? What other
ways could you value a company?
- How does depreciation affect each of the three financial statements?
- If you could only pick one financial statement, which would it be and why?
- What documents MUST a public company file?

Current Events Questions


- Where did the Dow close yesterday? The Nasdaq?
- What industries do you follow? Whats going on in those industries?
- What M&A deals have you been following?
- What current events are you following? What do you think is going to happen with
XYZ current event?
Iowa Questions
- Iowa to the big city would be a big change do you think you could handle it?
- We dont normally recruit at Iowa how did you get into this process?
- You have a 4.0 at Iowa. Does that really compare to a 4.0 at Harvard?

Random other questions weve heard in the past few years


- How many troops do we need in Iraq and why?
- Who will run for President from each party in 08?
- What book are you reading right now?
- What is your favorite book, movie?
- If you could choose three historical figures to have dinner with, who would they be and
why?

Math-in-your-head questions
- What is 9 cubed?
- What is 243 times 14?
- What is half a percent of $4 billion?

Brain teasers
- Why are man-hole covers round?
- How many windows are there in the Chicago Loop?
- How many diapers are used in the US each year?
- How many pennies are there in a shopping mall?
- What is the size of the piano market in the US?
- How many apartments are there in New York City?
(Hint: know the population of the US, Europe, China and the world. Know the population of an
average large city. Know the average number of people in a household in the US.)

Additional behavioral questions:


Initiative:
Describe your best example of taking the initiative to do something that needed to be
done, even though it wasn't really your responsibility. What circumstances required you
to act? What actions did you take? What impact did your initiative have on the situation?
Describe a creative/innovative idea that you produced which led to a significant
contribution to the success of an activity or project.
Describe the most significant or creative presentation which you have had to complete.

Give me an example of an important goal which you had set in the past and tell me about
your success in reaching it.
Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to
get a job done.
Problem Solving
When was the last time you solved a difficult problem that would have significant
impact? How did you go about analyzing the problem? What additional information did
you gather? What alternative solutions did you consider? Tell me how you implemented
your solution. What was the outcome?
Tell me about a time when you had to draw information or numerical from several
different sources. How did you go about it?
What was the most complex assignment you have had? What was your role?

Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving
a problem.
Decision Making

What was the most difficult decision you have made in the last six months? What made it
difficult? What variables did you consider? What did you decide? What was the result?
What steps do you follow to study a problem before making a decision?
Achievement /Drive
Describe a situation in which you believe you were effective in achieving an aggressive
goal. What caused you to work hard to meet this objective? What methods or skills did
you use to meet your goal? What were the results? What feedback did you receive?
Handling Details /Multitasking
Tell me about the most significant project you have worked on in which it was crucial to
keep track of details while still managing the big picture. What was the project? What
skills did you utilize in managing it? How did you make sure the work got done? How
did you keep focused on the overall goal of the project while still managing all of the
specific parts? How did the project turn out? What feedback did you receive on your
management of the task?
Describe a situation that required a number of things to be done at the same time. How
did you handle it? What was the result?
How do you determine priorities in scheduling your time? Give examples.

Communication Skills
Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince
someone to see things your way (or when you were able to sell someone on something
that they didnt initially want).
Describe a time when you had great difficulty communicating your thoughts clearly to
another person or group. What was the situation? What message were you trying to
convey? Where did the difficulty in communicating effectively lie? What did you do to
get your point across more clearly? What was the outcome?
Tell me about a time in which you had to use your written communication skills in order
to get an important point across.
Conflict Management
Tell me about a time when you voiced a concern or disagreement to a co-worker,
supervisor, or professor. Where did the disagreement originate? What did you say to the
other person? What was his/her reaction? What was the outcome of the disagreement?
Teamwork/Leadership
Tell me about a situation in which you had to coordinate several people to achieve a goal.
What prompted you to take the lead? How did you go about coordinating and leading the
group? How did they respond? What tools did you use to measure the progress of the
group? What was the outcome?
What kind of supervisor do you work best for? Provide examples.

By providing examples, convince me that you can adapt to a wide variety of people,
situations and environments.
Give an example of when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along
with. Why was this person difficult? How did you handle that person?
Give me a specific occasion in which you conformed to a policy with which you did not
agree.

Managing Stress
Describe your most disappointing experience. How did you cope with it? What did you
do to move beyond it?
Describe an instance when you had to think on your feet to extricate yourself from a
difficult situation.
Technical Expertise
Tell me about a time you were effective in putting your technical expertise to use to solve
a problem. What was the problem? In what ways did you draw upon your technical
knowledge to solve it? What was the outcome?
Ethics
Describe a situation where you had to say "no" to a customer, co-worker, or supervisor
because you didn't think saying "yes" would be right. Describe how you handled the
situation. How/Why did you think you were "right"? Would you handle the situation
differently?
Describe an ethical dilemma you have faced.

Client Relationship Management


Describe a time when you provided excellent customer service by going beyond your
primary job responsibilities. Describe the situation. Describe your involvement. What
was the outcome?