Guidance for interviews

Charles Pleckaitis, the Chair of our Section’s Educational Assistance Committee and the IEEE Life Member, suggested that we publish this. It is a list of interview questions and tips published in the year 1975, provided to Charles by the member of the Long Island Engineers’ Club Martin Danahy, who obtained it from Northwestern University. Let us know if you think these questions and tips are still relevant today; to send a letter to Editor, please email me on

Charles is regularly updating our Section’s online edition of Pulse with the events, tips, and information related to one’s professional career and search for new opportunities. Take a look at, under the Educational Assistance Committee page.

Credit: THE ENDICOTT REPORT, Northwestern University


The 1975 edition of THE ENDICOTT REPORT of Northwestern University lists 50 questions frequently asked by employers in interviews with college seniors. You should spend a lot of time considering these questions and practicing answers to them.

  1. What are your long-range and short-range goals and objectives; when and why did you establish these goals; and how are you preparing yourself to achieve them?
  2. What specific goals, other than those related to your occupation, have you established for yourself in the next ten years?
  3. What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
  4. What do you really want to do in life?
  5. What are your long-range career objectives?
  6. How do you plan to achieve your career goals?
  7. What are the most important rewards you expect in your business career?·
  8. What do you expect to be earning in five years?
  9. Why did you choose the career for which you are preparing?
  10. Which is more important to you: the money or the type of job?
  11. What do you consider to be your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  12. How would you describe yourself?
  13. How do you think a friend or professor who knows you well would describe you?
  14. What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?
  15. How has your college experience prepared you for your career?
  16. Why should I hire you?
  17. What qualifications do you have that make you think that you will be successful in your career?
  18. How do you determine or evaluate success?
  19. What do you think it takes to be successful in a company such as ours?
  20. In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our company?
  21. What qualities should a successful manager possess?
  22. Describe the relationship that should exist between a supervisor and those reporting to him or her.
  23. If you could do -s o, how would you plan your academic study differently? Why?
  24. What changes would you make in your college or university? Why?
  25. Do you have plans for continued study? An advanced degree?
  26. Do you think that your grades are a good indication of your academic achievement?
  27. What have you learned from participation in extracurricular activities?
  28. In what kind of work environment are you most comfortable?
  29. How do you work under pressure?
  30. In what part-time or summer jobs have you been most interested? Why?
  31. How would you describe the ideal job for you following graduation?
  32. Why did you decide to seek a position with this company?
  33. What do you know about our company?
  34. What are two or three things most important to you in your job?
  35. Are you seeking employment in a company of a certain size?
  36. What criteria are you using to evaluate the company for which you hope to work?
  37. Do you have a geographical preference? Why?
  38. Will you relocate? Does relocation bother you?
  39. Are you willing to travel?
  40. Are you willing to spend at least six months as a trainee?
  41. Why do you think you might like to live in the community in which our company is located?
  42. What major problem have you encountered and how did you deal with it?
  43. What have you learned from your mistakes?


Here are some examples of’ different types of organizations and some basic information you should have about them. This is not a comprehensive list, but it should give you a -general idea of what information you should know about any employer.

For a Job with a Manufacturing Company

(for any office job or· factory supervisory job)

  • What products does the company make? Be particularly observant: for secondary product lines. This information is usually in the annual report or other corporate literature.
  • What is the company’s financial status?
  • What has the company’s stock been doing?
  • What is the company’s· growth record?
  • Where are the company’s plants?
  • What is the company’s position in their field?
  • What is the major competition?

For a Job as a Teacher, School -Administrator or Staff Specialist

  • How many schools in the district?
  • What is the bargaining agent (if there is one) for teachers, administrators, and specialists?
  • What is the socioeconomic makeup of the district?
  • If it is a parochial school, who operates it?

For an Insurance Company Job

  • What kind of insurance does the company sell.?
  • Is it national or regional?
  • How does the company stand in the industry?

For a Job in a Department Store

  • Is the store locally owned or is it part of a national chain?
  • How many stores does the company have at shopping centers in the area?
  • What is the store’s financial picture?
  • What are the store’s major competitors?

For a Social Service Agency

  • What are the objectives of the agency?
  • Where does it get its funding?
  • What are some of its programs?


  • Poor personal appearance.
  • Overbearing-overaggressive-conceited “superiority complex”-“know-it-all.”
  • Inability to express himself clearly-poor voice, diction, grammar.
  • Lack of planning for career-no purpose and goals.
  • S. Lack of interest and enthusiasm-passive, indifferent.
  • Lack of confidence and poise-nervousness, ill-at-ease.
  • Failure to participate in activities.
  • Overemphasis on money interest only in best dollar offer.
  • Poor scholastic record – just got by.
  • Unwilling to start at the bottom-expects too much too soon.
  • Makes excuses-evasiveness-hedges on unfavorable factors in record.
  • Lack of tact.
  • Lack of maturity.
  • Lack of courtesy-ill mannered.
  • Condemnation of past employers.
  • Lack of social understanding•.
  • Marked dislike for school work.
  • Lack of vitality.
  • Fails to look the interviewer in the eye.
  • Limp, fishy handshake.
  • Indecision.
  • Loafs during vacations-lakeside pleasures.
  • Unhappy married life.
  • Friction with parents.
  • Sloppy application blank.
  • Merely shopping around.
  • Wants job only for a short time.
  • Little sense of humor.
  • Lack of knowledge of the field of specialization.
  • Parents make decisions for him.
  • No interest in the company or industry.
  • Emphasis on whom he knows.
  • Unwillingness to go where we send him.
  • Cynical•
  • Low moral standards.
  • Lazy.
  • Intolerant-strong prejudices.
  • Narrow interests.
  • Spends much time in movies.
  • Poor handling of personal finances.
  • No interest in community activities.
  • Inability to take criticism.
  • Lack of appreciation of the value of experience.
  • Radical ideas.
  • Late to interview without good reason.
  • Never heard of company/employer.
  • Failure to express appreciation for interviewer’s time.
  • Asks no questions about the job.
  • High-pressure type.
  • Indefinite response to questions.


  • What is the first problem that needs the attention of the person you hire?
  • What other problems need attention now?
  • What has been done about any of these to date?
  • How has this job been performed in the past?
  • Why is it now vacant?
  • Do you have a written job description for this position?
  • What are its major responsibilities?
  • What authority would I have? How would you define its scope?
  • What are the company’s five-year sales and profit projections?
  • What needs to be done to reach these projections?
  • What are the company ‘s major strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are its strengths and weaknesses in production?
  • What are its strength and weakness in its products or its competitive positioning?
  • Whom do you identify as your major competitors?
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • How do you view the future for your industry?
  • Do you have any plans for new products or acquisitions? Might this company be sold or acquired?
  • What is the company’s current financial strength?
  • What can you tell me about the individual to whom I would report?
  • What can you tell me about other persons in key positions?
  • What can you tell me about the subordinates I would have?
  • How would you define your management philosophy?
  • Are employees afforded an opportunity for continuing education?
  • What are you looking for in the person who will fill this job?

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