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Common interview questions: entry level

Suburb Repairman

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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

Warm-Up Questions
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?

Technology/GIS

What do your know about GIS?

How would you go about creating a <some type of thematic map> in a GIS system?

Process-Orientation

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&#8217;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&#8217;s to raise the public&#8217;s awareness about a newly started comprehensive planning effort?

Decision-Making

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?

Initiative

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.

Interpersonal Skills

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?

Customer Service

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?

Ethics

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.

Professional/Personal Development

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?

Comprehensive Planning

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)
 
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luckless pedestrian

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wow, what a comprehensive list, thanks for doing this

the only thought to add is the work experience ones may not be pertinent to an entry-level job, because such positions don't require experience - perhaps the questions for entry level are more geared to the experience they did get, through an internship, a group project at school, their thesis, jobs they held while in school, etc.
 

Suburb Repairman

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Good point, LP. That was something I should have noted. When you don't have direct experience, you can usually come up with something that still gets across similar information. For example, perhaps you haven't dealt with a city council or anything like that yet, but perhaps a student organization you were heavily involved with had to seek approval of a project from the student government or university directors. Be creative!

A few more...

Historic Preservation

Is it important for cities to conserve historic resources? What is the appropriate role for government in this activity?

What are effective way’s to raise the public’s awareness about historic preservation?

You may be asked to review a historic resources survey, identify an architectural type (commercial or residential), write a staff report.
 

lamsalfl

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the only thought to add is the work experience ones may not be pertinent to an entry-level job, because such positions don't require experience - perhaps the questions for entry level are more geared to the experience they did get, through an internship, a group project at school, their thesis, jobs they held while in school, etc.
Thanks. This is what I was wondering. All I have is an internship under my belt. I wasn't faced with a lot of the challenges that some of those questions ask. I would be straight with the interviewer and tell them about my internship.

However, since I am very raw, should I explain my three years experience working in a high volume national chain restaurant (PF Changs)? We have significant customer (guest) interaction, and sometimes they are not happy. It's our jobs to accomodate them, and fix those situations. Or should I just not even mention my non-planning work experience?
 

Suburb Repairman

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Thanks. This is what I was wondering. All I have is an internship under my belt. I wasn't faced with a lot of the challenges that some of those questions ask. I would be straight with the interviewer and tell them about my internship.

However, since I am very raw, should I explain my three years experience working in a high volume national chain restaurant (PF Changs)? We have significant customer (guest) interaction, and sometimes they are not happy. It's our jobs to accomodate them, and fix those situations. Or should I just not even mention my non-planning work experience?
You should ABSOLUTELY mention this. Much of what entry-level planners due is customer service driven. If I can relate a story about stocking grocery store shelves to zoning, you can certainly relate PF Chang's to customer service.
 

beach_bum

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Potential Activity Elements of an Interview

I had to do a site plan review and an architectural review of some elevations

Brought portfolio to review with interviewers
 

lamsalfl

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I found this on a job posting for 1-3 years experience.

1. Knowledgeable of state and federal statutes and how to apply these to the planning process.
2. Knowledgeable of work program, and financial management systems.
3. Knowledgeable of and skilled at managing joint participation agreements, and local government grant agreements.
4. Knowledge and skills to perform technical reviews of consultant and local government work products.
5. Knowledgeable of and skilled at processing consultant invoices.
6. Knowledgeable of and skilled at dealing with the public, and outside agency personnel.
7. Knowledgeable of the correct use of English grammar and punctuation in communicating spoken and written business product.
8. Knowledgeable of and skilled at creating documents using the intermediate features of the current computer programs.
9. Knowledgeable of and skilled at organizing, planning and managing time effectively.
10. Skilled at maintaining and organized filing system.
11. Knowledgeable of and skilled at establishing and maintaining effective working relationships with others.


Those first few seem a little stiff for a rookie! How does someone looking for ANY job bother reading up on local statutes for everyone? What is the English translation for all of that? :) Those first four make me feel :-c
 

north sydney

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I never faced most of those questions and i'm glad i didn't.

Here are some of the questions i faced when going for entry level positions earlier this year. Hope this helps someone.

1 - Why are you the best person for the job?
1b - Why are you interested in this position?
2 - What is your Planning experiance?
3 - Why did you choose Planning as a career?
4 - Where do you think you will be in one year?
5 - What motivates you?
6 - What time management techniques do you use?
7 - What experiance do you have with negotiating?
8 - When have you gone above and beyond in customer service?
8b - When have you had to deal with a problem customer?
9 - When have you had to make a tough decision and then justify it?
10 - When have you been part of a successful team and what was your role?
10b - When have you had a problem with a teammate and how did you deal with it?
11 - What computer applications do you have experiance with?
12 - What is the most memorable assignment you worked on at uni?
12b - What is the most difficult assignment you worked on at uni?
13 - What do you think are the major planning issues facing us?
 

lamsalfl

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I never faced most of those questions and i'm glad i didn't.

Here are some of the questions i faced when going for entry level positions earlier this year. Hope this helps someone.

1 - Why are you the best person for the job?
1b - Why are you interested in this position?
2 - What is your Planning experiance?
3 - Why did you choose Planning as a career?
4 - Where do you think you will be in one year?
5 - What motivates you?
6 - What time management techniques do you use?
7 - What experiance do you have with negotiating?
8 - When have you gone above and beyond in customer service?
8b - When have you had to deal with a problem customer?
9 - When have you had to make a tough decision and then justify it?
10 - When have you been part of a successful team and what was your role?
10b - When have you had a problem with a teammate and how did you deal with it?
11 - What computer applications do you have experiance with?
12 - What is the most memorable assignment you worked on at uni?
12b - What is the most difficult assignment you worked on at uni?
13 - What do you think are the major planning issues facing us?
Now, THESE are the questions I am hoping I'll be asked in an interview. These sound more on par for someone with just an internship experience fresh out of college!

From what I am gathering, the person has to 1) make a case why they are good for the job, 2) relate their non-planning work experience to how it can benefit them, 3) be able to show they know about the area.

I've got #3 down pat for Florida interviews. For some reason ever since I was a child I have been obsessed with anything Florida... taught myself Florida history including histories of towns... driven through all 64 counties of the state... a passion for their highways, and what can be done to improve traffic flow... FLA's pro sports teams... the whole 9 yards. Scary? Maybe. Right man for a Florida job? God I hope so.
 

kjel

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Great thread but....

I think I'm going to be screwed :-c

$40K, two years of grad school, only to find out I don't know shaiza.
 

lamsalfl

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Haha, I agree. After going to grad school for 2 years, I feel like I didn't learn anything after reading some of these threads! :-c:r:
 

javajuice1000

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I feel the same way, 2 years later and loans, and I can't answer most of those questions and perform some of those tasks. At least not without some time and Google.
 

Jazzman

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Whew, I'm glad I'm not the only one who was sweating...........


I looked at those questions and wondered, "how the hell am I supposed to know that?" I had to double check to make sure this was the entry-level thread.

Glad to know that others felt the same way! :-D
 

nrschmid

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How does someone looking for ANY job bother reading up on local statutes for everyone? What is the English translation for all of that?

Actually, any of the questions in this thread are fair game for entry-level planners. Yes, it is a ton, so you need to really rehearse, reheare, rehearse questions prior to the interview. Prior to the interview for an entry-level planner job (that led to my first offer) I spent about 5-6 days a week for about 1 1/2-2 weeks preparing for ONE interview. I rehearsed all of my questions in front of a mirror, including memorizing as much of the municipal code/comprehensive plan. I spent just as much time learning facts as I did practicing my responses, which included intonation, breathing, and body language (posture, gestures, facial expressions, etc.). The hardest part was trying to refine my responses so that they came off naturally rather than appear too canned

Did I overcompensate or go overboard in this? Yes and no. My biggest problem was revealing too much of the kimono. In previous interviews, I shared too much about myself, which wasn't needed for the job. In this interview, I was competing against several hundred applicants, including 15 other interviewees all of whom had at least a graduate degree (and I only had a college planning degree). The interviewers told me I blew away the competiton so fiercely with my thorough understanding of their needs and problems along with feasible recommendations that no other interviewee even came in close. I did the same method with another planning job in consulting, earned another offer, and have been a planner/designer at this second job for almost 4 years. Students fresh out of school, especially college graduates, have so little to measure up against (even with solid portfolios and internships) that they really need to blow the competition right out of the water by learning as much as they can about the job they are interviewing for.

Over time this rehearsing becomes more familiar. However, you still have to put in a considerable amount of time to prepare for any planning interview. I highly recommend anyone to purchase a copy of Fearless Interviewing and read everything with a fine tooth comb. I have recommended the book to several people on cyburbia. It paid dividends for me and everyone else who has followed the recommendations. Is it a ton of work? Yes. But if you really want the job bad enough, you really have to put in at least 200&#37; if not more. This profession is growing, but even in good times, there are simply too few jobs and too many qualified applicants.

Hope this helps-
 

Suburb Repairman

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By the way folks, this is a clearing house of questions. You will not be asked all of these in a single interview, and they will vary A LOT by geography and what that entry-level planner will be doing upon hire. You are less likely to get topic-specific questions (i.e. plat processing, historic preservation, etc.) for a true entry-level position for someone with maybe only a one-semester internship.

By the way, some folks are mean, like me, and will ask questions we don't think you will know the answer to in order to see how you cope under pressure and whether your default is to make something up or acknowledge that you don't know. The perfect answer is if you are able to respond to something you don't know by saying how you would find out the answer (what would you reference, who would you ask).
 

DVD

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When I started out of school, I was asked a lot of the questions listed. They just wanted to test me to see what they were dealing with. The local statutes I learned in school. I hope your school is teaching some of your local laws. Other stuff was just wider knowledge. How would you handle x situations (mostly customer service or angry resident stuff) or what do you know about x (usually the latest planning issue to arrive).

More important for some, List and play up those internships. I did 2 (1 public & 1 private). Neither were very long, but the city I applied to saw that as a great deal of experience for entry level. I thought it was next to nothing, but it worked out well.

Also, use your school career development office to help with practice interviews. You can take the questions with you and they'll help craft answers and make you feel more comfortable. Just don't expect them to know the technical details.

Good luck
 

Montannie

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The Wacky Ones

When I applied for my first job out of my undergrad with a county planning office, I got the weirdest list of questions, i.e.:
  • If you could be a vegetable, what would you be?
  • If you could be an animal, what would you be?
  • If you could be responsible for any invention of all time, what would it be?
  • What do you think of the idea of "planner as god?"
  • Et cetera
Lesson learned: prepare for the usual ones but also be sure to drink a lot of coffee and have your quick wit and creative brainstorming cap on... The last thing you want to do is sit there and say... ummm... well.... umm... ha.... that's a good one! like i'm pretty sure i did. but hey - i got the job!
 

DVD

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I have a friend who asks questions like that. In the middle of technical questions, he'll throw out something like "What's you're vertical leap?" Just to see how you react and if it throws you off for the next normal question.
 

jdplanner

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This thread and similar threads before it were a godsend when I was preparing for my interviews!!

i haven't had to answer every question in the original list posted, but in every interview I've had I have probably been at least asked half of these questions. I feel it really helped me in landing two jobs (1st job I was laid off from 5 months in) since I recieved my degree in May 08.
 

smccutchan1

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Glad to Not be an Entry Level Planner in a Public Agency

Forgive me for being smug but after reading this thread and I am really glad for two things. One, I joined the planning industry over 30 years ago when the person interviewing me just wanted to get to know me and see what kind of a person I was rather than to try to create a mine field of questions that have minimal relevancy to what I would be doing in the office day in day out. Second, I am a planning consultant and haven't had to work in a public agency in over 25 years.
 

beach_bum

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I would like to let everyone know I used some of these questions for a potential intern and we did not hire him, even though he had a solid resume and was generally likable and below is why:


The following are some tips on how to interview, even for an internship:

Always interview for the next position up, meaning, just because you are interviewing for the lowest position in a department doesn't excuse you from dressing appropriately or having general knowledge of the town. Also meaning, no matter what you think about socks, its always good to wear them on a interview.

Even though you go to college in the metro area, do not tell me this is your first time in my town...act like you know a little about the town, this is a planning job/ internship afterall.

Always, always send a thank you note, whether a handwritten card or email.

Bring your resume and work samples/portfolios, you wouldn't try and sell a product without samples and information, it works the same for own skills and abilities.

Do not tell me the interview questions are tough...you can think it...but its better to keep that thought to yourself. Also, you should expect a question about your career goals!

Just thought this little rant would help someone out there...:)
 

vxw

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thanks for the great tips, just starting my interview career as we speak and definitely will be writing a thank you letter after.
as for vertical? 2'6":D
I found out accidentally one day, I know my ceiling height, my own height, the pain in my head and crack in the ceiling
 

beach_bum

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is a typed thank letter ok? I prefer not to handwrite anything...
One way or the other, its the thought that counts. I just had to write a rejection email today, I didn't like doing it...but this guy was one semester away from a master's degree, I hope he can brush up on those interview skills.

Also, we all noticed he didn't have socks on...you don't want the conversation after your interview being about your wardrobe choices, but the skills and attributes you can bring to the team.
 

kltoomians

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if he didn't have socks, he should have had pants to cover his ankles! :lmao: I like to wear boots...I tend not to trip as much. I noticed one guy that went ahead of me white-knuckling the chair in the lobby...I wonder how he did for his interview :)
 

surfer1280

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1) How do you answer salary requirements?
-I would like, given my degree, to get 45K....but I don't know what to say.
I feel that would be too greedy...I feel like saying "I don't know" or "flexible" but then would be afraid this would come off as indecisive/get me taken advantage of...so how do you answer?


2) I suck balls at GIS.
-When asked GIS questions...or questions about classes I hate/poor skills...do I lie or omit this detail?
-Being honest can eliminate me...lying can lead to a bad match.


3) Night meetings.
-Again...can I be honest and say 1-2 a month is fine...but on a regular weekly basis might be too much?
 

Chet

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I used to love throwing in a real curve ball question, like:

(A) What character from The Simpsons do you relate to best, and give us a quote. (We hired the woman that said Ralph Wiggam and even spoke in the voice.

(2) If you could be a cookie, what kind of cookie would you be, and WHY?
 

newbieplanner

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The only question I remember being asked was "which one is more important: zoning or planning? How are they related?" I felt like it was trick question, one lays the ground work for the other. I debate and over analyze everything so that was the only question I did not feel very confident with my answer.
 

Cloverhill

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Practical Exercise

Before they leave my interview I hand them a topo plat, an engineer's scale, and a calculator and see if they can figure out the slope between two points.

I've had maybe 2 people get it right. Ever.

I also like to ask: What job would you want to do if you don't get this job?

One of my best hires answered: Truck Driver. I still give him a hard time about that.
 

globalwarmist

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Hi I just had an interview with Los Angeles County Metropolitan Authority for an internship position a week and half ago, I haven't received any word if I got it or not, do you think I should give up hope, or call them just to check? This waiting game is making me really anxious.
 

kltoomians

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Hi I just had an interview with Los Angeles County Metropolitan Authority for an internship position a week and half ago, I haven't received any word if I got it or not, do you think I should give up hope, or call them just to check? This waiting game is making me really anxious.
If it was me, I would just wait it out. I know most government agencies (our included) are having budget meetings at the moment...maybe they just need to hammer out some budget issues. Good luck!
 

nrschmid

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If it were me, I would keep looking, preparing, interviewing, etc. The only thing that officially ends a job/internship search is a written letter of offer that is agreed upon by both parties.

So...GET BACK TO WORK!!!
 

chocolatechip

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Some questions I just had at an interview were:

What qualities do you admire most in other people?
Who influences you most in life?
How do you define success?
Tell me about a situation where you felt overwhelmed, and how you handled it.
 

kltoomians

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Some questions I just had at an interview were:

What qualities do you admire most in other people?
Who influences you most in life?
How do you define success?
Tell me about a situation where you felt overwhelmed, and how you handled it.
The question I hate the most is, "What is your greatest strength/weakness?" ahhhhh!...my weakness is not being able to talk about my weaknesses with a potential employer.
 

mike gurnee

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The question I hate the most is, "What is your greatest strength/weakness?" ahhhhh!...my weakness is not being able to talk about my weaknesses with a potential employer.
Borrowed from an old friend: My greatest weakness is not being able to afford my addiction to heroin.
 

chocolatechip

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The question I hate the most is, "What is your greatest strength/weakness?" ahhhhh!...my weakness is not being able to talk about my weaknesses with a potential employer.
I had that one also (at the first interview for the same job), but it was "What are your three greatest strengths?" and then "What would you like to change about yourself?"

I did not prepare answers before hand, and I think it worked in my favor. Interviewers can tell if you have canned answers, and the old "my greatest weakness is that I work too hard" type of thing is just not gonna fly.
 

globalwarmist

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If it was me, I would just wait it out. I know most government agencies (our included) are having budget meetings at the moment...maybe they just need to hammer out some budget issues. Good luck!
Thanks yeah, I am definitely keeping my options open. I know that the LACMTA and all of LA is broke right now so I will just call in on Thursday (two week mark) to just get over my frustrations. During my interview they had a list of questions and just went down and asked each one of them which I thought was really strange.

Good luck to the rest of you!
 

arcplans

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During my interview they had a list of questions and just went down and asked each one of them which I thought was really strange.

Good luck to the rest of you!
For entry level/intern positions they always have just a list a questions because more than likely they are not interviewing you, but probably 9-12 other people. Both myself and kltoomians interviewed for the same job a few weeks back. Our correspondence confirmed that they interview panel asked the same exact questions and had the same exact exercise. It is how we both answered the questions and how the questions closely aligned to the needs of the employer that determined whom made the cut to the 2nd round.
 

Suburb Repairman

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Thanks yeah, I am definitely keeping my options open. I know that the LACMTA and all of LA is broke right now so I will just call in on Thursday (two week mark) to just get over my frustrations. During my interview they had a list of questions and just went down and asked each one of them which I thought was really strange.

Good luck to the rest of you!
That is actually a common practice, especially in the public sector. Often this is forced by HR departments that want to be able to demostrate that every interviewee had equal opportunity to respond to similar questions and that no applicants were effectively 'red-lined' by shifting around questions to benefit certain applicants over others. Many times these types of standard question forms are scored by the interview panel, turning applicant selection into a quantitative exericise based on subjective opinions of those on the interview panel.

I hate this process, as an interviewer and as an interviewee. As an interviewer, I will just keep notes on the question responses and rank my applicants overall. Then I insert the scores so that they will reflect my ranking and comments I have on their responses. This has the added advantage of allowing me just to listen to responses and make it more conversational, rather than keeping score along the way.
 

globalwarmist

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0
That is actually a common practice, especially in the public sector. Often this is forced by HR departments that want to be able to demostrate that every interviewee had equal opportunity to respond to similar questions and that no applicants were effectively 'red-lined' by shifting around questions to benefit certain applicants over others. Many times these types of standard question forms are scored by the interview panel, turning applicant selection into a quantitative exericise based on subjective opinions of those on the interview panel.

I hate this process, as an interviewer and as an interviewee. As an interviewer, I will just keep notes on the question responses and rank my applicants overall. Then I insert the scores so that they will reflect my ranking and comments I have on their responses. This has the added advantage of allowing me just to listen to responses and make it more conversational, rather than keeping score along the way.
Thanks for the insight. I felt like they weren't really engaging since they had that predetermined list of questions. It was an interesting experience, its my first real planning related internship interview. I have been doing all GIS related work for my past internships and I am so tired of being the GIS monkey. I have had my fair share of interviews, but the one that is keeping me waiting the longest is the one I really want to get. I am currently working with the SCAQMD and they were pretty fast to get back to me.

Thanks guys!
 

Johio

Cyburbian
Messages
28
Points
2
I will be interviewing for a entry level municipal planner position in the near future. I am a college grad with a degree in Geography but an emphasis in Planning. I graduated in spring 2008 and have been searching for a full-time planning job since (in the meantime being underemployed in a grocery store). I have 8 mos. of experience as an intern with a private planning firm (2008) and more recently, 4 mos. as a volunteer with a local MPO.

Any suggestions in how to prepare, handle, and answer questions would be appreciated.
 

illinoisplanner

Cyburbian
Messages
5,336
Points
24
I just had an interview where they asked me to describe my sense of humor. So do be prepared for an unexpected question like that.

I guess they probably want to figure out how you will fit in well to the culture of the office, as well as if you let stuff roll off your back easily and not take things personally.

Also, in this interview, they didn't ask me a lot of pointed questions, which was surprising. It was more conversational, where I was asked to discuss my background and professional experience, and where they did a lot of explaining about the position and the organization, benefits, etc. They even gave me a tour. But it's weird, cause I haven't heard back from them in almost 2 weeks. And I sent the thank-yous, email follow-ups, and everything. I thought this was how a great interview was supposed to go. I'm trying to be hopeful that I'm still being considered and it's just taking awhile to check references, write up offers, etc., but I'm losing hope with each passing day.

Nevertheless, while most places probably will ask you a lot of pointed questions for entry-level jobs, be prepared to talk at length about yourself, your skills and experiences, and have lots of good questions ready, in case the interview tends to be more conversation-oriented rather than Q&A.
 

ThePinkPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
364
Points
12
Interviewee Questions

I apologize in advance if this should have had a thread of its own or is most related to this one already established. I feel like I have very good interview skills and am always comfortable and confident and do well with a wide range of questions and challenges. Except 1 which I always feel I fail at: what questions do you have for us?

I never know the appropriate way to address this question in a manner that seems thoughful, without seeming rote or generic. Any suggestions for what an interviewee should ask a panel about? I'd prefer to leave specific questions such as hours of work, etc to the contact person or in some cases after an offer is made.
 

nrschmid

Cyburbian
Messages
2,856
Points
20
1. Ask a question/question(s) pertinent to the specific job or agency.

2. My last queston is usually:
Is there is anything that we discussed that needs clarification?
and/or
Do you have any concerns about my qualifications and experience?

Some planners would never ask this last question. I would rather cover all bases during the interview and finish knowing that everything was addressed.


There is nothing wrong with a simple answer provided it answers the question.
 

Hink

OH....IO
Moderator
Messages
14,577
Points
37
I apologize in advance if this should have had a thread of its own or is most related to this one already established. I feel like I have very good interview skills and am always comfortable and confident and do well with a wide range of questions and challenges. Except 1 which I always feel I fail at: what questions do you have for us?

I never know the appropriate way to address this question in a manner that seems thoughful, without seeming rote or generic. Any suggestions for what an interviewee should ask a panel about? I'd prefer to leave specific questions such as hours of work, etc to the contact person or in some cases after an offer is made.
Personally, I think you should always have questions based on the interview. This is the place that you will be working - no matter how good the interviewer, there is no way that everything was covered. Ask the questions that were not answered or something about the community like what projects are you currently working on? If you are moving to the state ask about the area, the community - is there work-related activities such as a softball league or such? There are always questions to be asked.... so ask them. Good interviewers will expect to be asked questions - if they answered all your predetermined questions be sure to at least ask one about something. It shows an investment on your part. Good luck!!
 

ThePinkPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
364
Points
12
Thanks! Part of my concern with this particular interview is that it is a full panel- 8 members of development review boards, selectboard and planning commission. All are volunteers. Which is good in part because it means they all live within the community. I could ask about the community, but I'd also like to refine a question to somehow relate to what they think of a planner's responsibility....
 

HomerJ

Cyburbian
Messages
1,035
Points
15
I just finished a phone interview this morning, so needless to say my nerves were a little out of whack until I finally finished.

But honestly, it wasn't so bad. I only spent a couple hours casually going over my experiences beforehand and did the best I could to just be honest, it really paid off being able to just sound conversational over the phone. I'm not packing my bags for this job yet, but sometimes you can just tell when things went really well.

My advice, don't worry so much. Just getting an interview should be considered a victory with the amount of competition going around. Failing to get a job after an interview puts you no further back than before which means you have nothing to lose.

Oh and as far as the actual material covered, mine was almost entirely focused on asking questions about my Resume. No surprise that the aspects of the Resume asked about were related to the original job description.

Also, asking the interviewer questions at the end is absolutely important!
 

kltoomians

Cyburbian
Messages
241
Points
9
Describe what you see that relates to City Planning (and why) when you look out the window.
 

AussiePlanner

Member
Messages
6
Points
0
I have found that by the time a potential employer has gone through all the process of interviews and reviewing CV's, they really just want to know about YOU as a person and how you will fit in to the existing team...they may only test you on one planning related question but that's about it. Mind you I interview people myself but have never been on the receiving end - that’s right I'm a word of mouth employee...could be interesting later on!

I love the post about the Simpsons character above...I have seen a job advert that a mate of mine applied for (non planning) that listed criteria such as team player, independent worker etc (all the usual) and then last point was 'extensive knowledge of the Simpsons Season 1-3...needless to say, my mate got the job!
 
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