Your Ultimate Question Bank For Interviews With College Students

By Victoria Robertson on December 7, 2015

When interviewing college students, it’s easy to resort to the same questions typically asked of full-time employees, people with experience and expertise enough to back their answers.

However, more often than not, college students lack the experience required to successfully answer such challenging questions.

Rather than interviewing college students for experiential answers (which you most likely aren’t going to get), employers should start looking at other areas with which a students’ abilities are more effectively showcased, such as their coursework, community service and extracurricular activities, and any reasonable amount of experience they may have gained through their high school and college careers.

While not every college student is going to have the same experiences to back their interviewing, the same, fundamental questions can be employed in most interviews with students.

So for your convenience, here is the employer’s question bank for interviews with students.

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Opening Questions:

1. Talk about their resume.

Begin the interview with a relaxed conversation about the student’s resume, jogging their memory about their accomplishments as well as creating a segue into the tougher, more in-depth questions.

2. Ask them for more specifics.

You can ask what their most prized accomplishments are, what they’d like to expand on or even ask what their resume doesn’t demonstrate. This is a great chance to determine the student’s creativity and drive, as you will be able to determine exactly what they’re proud of, what they’re hoping to achieve and whether or not they’re confident in their accomplishments so far.

3. Ask if they have any questions.

Before the discussion of the position in mind continues, it’s important to make sure the students are familiar enough with it to continue. This is a great way to gauge how prepared the student is as well as to clear up any misinformation the student may or may not have about the position.

The Bulk:

1. Why did you apply for this position?

Anyone can come up with an answer for this question. The real art is whether or not the student actually wants the position, or if they’re just going through the motions of applying for jobs. With their answer, you’ll be able to tell.

Students with vague, non-descriptive answers probably aren’t all that interested while students that spend more time, using specific examples and evidence as to why they need this job are going to blow you out of the water.

2. What experience do you have that will help you be successful in this position?

This is a great question to ask for a student’s prior experience without the added pressure, especially if they are applying for a first job. With this question, students can demonstrate what traits they deem worthy of the work place as well as their knowledge of the position. This is a great way to figure out if a student will be a good fit.

3. What skills do you hope to gain from this position?

With this question, students will divulge information on experience they don’t have yet, or have little of, but are excited and willing to work hard for. It’s revealing of their work ethic (depending on the vagueness or complexity of their answer) as well as their interest in the field. If they don’t show enthusiasm, odds are they aren’t really enthusiastic about the position.

4. What are your strengths/weaknesses?

Though it’s a question asked in nearly every interview, it’s also one students are aware of and able to prepare for. This means students that aren’t prepared for the question, aren’t exactly prepared for the interview.

Others will try to pass off strengths as weaknesses, which is another telltale sign that the interviewing student isn’t prepared. Use this as a question to gauge who’s actually there to work and learn and who’s just trying to look good.

5. Where do you see yourself in five years?

This is probably the most telling of all questions. It not only gives the student the opportunity to divulge their career plans, but it also lets you in on why they may be applying for this job that they haven’t stated before, or perhaps how driven they are.

Some students will have probably unachievable, but respectable goals, while others will have barely committed to a next step. Either way, you learn much more from this answer than meets the eye.

Closing Question:

1. Are there any questions/concerns about the position?

It’s important to leave the end of the interview in their hands; they were the force that drove the interview, they need to feel in control. This is also a great way to see how much they paid attention, or if they feel enthusiastic about the interview.

Typically, interested students will ask about next steps or more specifics about the position, uninterested students won’t ask any questions and pressured, nervous students will ask meaningless questions that were probably already answered during the interview. All of these can be read as you’d like, and it leaves the final say in how the interview went completely up to them.

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of questions. But feel free to add and tweak as you please, just so long as you make sure you are asking a variety of questions rather than fixating on that dreaded “experience.”

Even the most simple of questions can have complex answers, so don’t count them out. Structure your interview for your benefit.

By Victoria Robertson

Uloop Writer
University of Illinois
Victoria is a dedicated writer who graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She currently writes freelance pieces for various sites and works in Marketing for Myndbee Inc., promoting their current mobile app, Picpal.

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