Experiential Interview Questions

A hiring manager wants to hear about your past professional experiences.
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The goal of an experiential interviewer is to get to know about you, your skills, education and professional philosophy. Also known as behavioral interviewing, experiential interviewing poses questions that prompt you to share real life stories of how you handled professional situations in the past, with the reason being that past behavior is good indication of future behavior.

Decision Making

    You'll be asked to share an example of a time you made a critical professional decision under pressure. The hiring manager wants to know how you quickly assessed the situation, weighed your options and decided the best course of action. For example, you could say, “A delayed shipment meant a major customer wouldn't receive his order in time for a major fundraising event. My options were to let the shipment be late, ruin the customer’s event and potentially lose the client, or pay for expedited shipping out of my own budget. Both my company's reputation and the satisfaction of a client were on the line, so I decided the most prudent course of action was to cover the fast shipping."

Conflict Resolution

    A hiring manager wants to know how you deal with conflict in the workplace. You're asked to describe a time when you found yourself in a contentious situation with a colleague and diplomatically resolved the situation to everyone's satisfaction. Your answer could be, “I worked on a team design project with a colleague. Unbeknownst to me, she changed major elements of the project before the client presentation. Rather than confront her in front of the client, I proceeded with our presentation and took her aside after the meeting. While at first she was defensive about her changes, when I explained my embarrassment at not being fully prepared, she understood my point and agreed that team projects would be handled more equitably in the future.”

Compromise Skills

    Compromise is essential to nearly every professional role, and the hiring manager wants to hear a first-hand account of how you successfully reach compromises in different professional settings. Share an instance of where you gave and took to ensure the best outcome for all parties. For example, “In designing my company's annual report, my production manager wanted to create a multi-media video presentation, while I thought a printed report would be more appropriate for use as a reference. I suggested a compromise of producing a print copy that included a DVD with graphic highlights of key achievements.”


    Potential employers want to know about your business morals and might ask you to share a time when you found yourself in an ethical dilemma. Choose an example that highlights your inherent values. You could say, “Our paper supplier delivered a shipment and inadvertently gave us twice what we ordered without charging us for the overage. The driver said it was a warehousing mistake and it was easier to let us keep the paper than return it, but I felt an ethical obligation to pay for the additional stock. The paper company appreciated my honesty and discounted our next order by 40 percent.”

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