We seem to get a lot of threads on here from people asking what to expect in an interview as far as questions. I thought maybe we could work on creating a clearing house of some of our favorite questions to ask based on the type of position (this one is entry-level). You might add a tag at the end if you would ask the question only in a particular circumstance.
For those of you reading this, as an interviewer you should not ask every one of these questions--pick & choose. Otherwise the interview will be overwhelming for all involved. You don't want to go too far down rabbit holes on detail & completely miss the big picture of bringing somebody in that can do the job & is compatible with your department. Also, you don't want your interview to turn into some kind of planning trivia game.
I've written mine from a public sector perspective.
Entry Level: Planner, Planner I/II, Planning Tech, Assistant Planner
For mid level, see this thread
Note: these can vary from being very conversational to almost like a pop quiz
What experience have you had reading, writing, and interpreting administrative regulations?
Describe your experience in working with Council appointed City Boards or Commissions.
Describe the kind of tasks you enjoy doing in your ideal job. Rank them in terms of how much your enjoy doing them.
I see you attended ___________ university. What was your favorite course? Least favorite?
I see you were a ________ major in college.Why did you select this major? How do you think it helps you with this position? (may only be asked if it is something unusual)
How does working for _______ as a ________________ fit in with your long term professional goals?
What experience have you had with the CDBG program? What are the criteria every project must meet to quality for CDBG funding?
What do your know about GIS?
How would you go about creating a <some type of thematic map> in a GIS system?
Land development regulations can be complex and difficult to understand. What would be the steps you would follow if asked to explain one of the City’s ordinances?
A lot of the work that the ___________ must do is fairly routine with limited opportunity for creative input because of local and state laws. When confronted with a job that has a lot of clerical/administrative aspects to it, how do you keep it interesting?
What are effective way’s to raise the public’s awareness about a newly started comprehensive planning effort?
Most of us become better decision makers as we gain experience. Tell me how you have improved your decision-making. Give me an example of one of the most difficult work related decisions you have had to make. When did this happen? What was the situation? What factors contributed to the difficulty of the decision? What was the outcome? What did your supervisor say?
Sometimes we make a decision that we would like to take back. What is the most recent example of this that you can think of? When did this happen? What was the situation? What factors contributed to the difficulty of the decision? What was the outcome? What did your supervisor say?
Tell us about the last time you had an idea to improve something on the job. What did you do and what happened?
When beginning a new position, what are the first things that you normally do to orient yourself? Tell me about how you approached your first few days when you began your last job.
In this position, you will interact with a variety of individuals inside and outside of the City on a daily basis. As a result, it is essential that you interact effectively with people. Tell me about two or three key strengths you have in dealing with people. Can you provide a recent example of an incident in which your strengths proved to be valuable?
When did this incident take place? What possible negative outcomes were avoided by the way you handled this incident? How often has this type of situation arisen?
In this position, a person is often called on to get cooperation from others where there is no official leverage to be used in getting that cooperation. What similar situations have you faced and what approaches have you used to secure cooperation? Who was involved? What was the official relationship? What were you trying to get from them? What approaches did you use? What outcomes did you achieve? How often have you faced similar situations?
Tell me about the most difficult incident you have had to deal with when a user/customer was dissatisfied with a policy interpretation, quality of service, etc. What led to the situation? What exactly was the source of the user's dissatisfaction? What steps did you take to remedy the situation? How effective were you in handling the situation? How many times in the past year did you find yourself in a similar situation?
What does it mean to you to work in an office that prides itself on providing good customer service? How does it affect your attitude and responsibilities?
Tell me about the most difficult ethical issue you have faced. What happened? What was established procedure? What was the outcome?
Some cities have situations where elected officials have tried to influence a staff recommendation. Tell me how you would handle a similar situation.
Name any two books you have read in the past year. How have they influenced you?
Name a professional development event you participated in during the past year. What did you take away from this training?
Describe a comprehensive planning effort you have worked on. What was your role? What was the geography? How long did the planning process take? What was the outcome of the planning process? What lessons did you learn?
If you were teaching a course on comprehensive planning to your professionals, what would you stress?
If you were teaching that same course to planning commissioners, would you vary your approach? If so, what would you stress?
How should a comprehensive plan deal with implementation?
Final Administrative Questions
What are your salary requirements?
If offered the position, how soon could you start?
Are you able to attend night meetings?
Where do you see yourself in two to three years and what are you career goals?
Potential Activity Elements of an Interview
Basic GIS assignment, such as creating a notification buffer. Alternatively, you may be asked to use paper maps. (Comfort with GIS, reliance on technology)
Write a staff report and present it to a fake planning board (working under pressure, writing ability, presentation ability, can you be concise)
Edit a document for grammar, clarity, etc. (writing ability, concise)
Take-home written response questions, especially a scenario (analytical ability, writing ability, concise)