Question Appendix from "Surviving In-Spite of Oneself"

© 1988 Pi Arthur Stuart

Updated: May 25, 2018

As you read the questions with answers, keep-in-mind, that the answers were for me; they were based on my experience and personal values. You should develop your own general answers that fit you. Although I never memorized the answers, I had a rather good idea of what I wanted to say. Because I frequently reviewed the questions, even when I wasn’t looking for a job, and would practice them several times prior to an interview, I was usually ready and confident. I would have my wife or one of my kids ask me the questions in a random order. I would encourage you to use a recorder to review your answers. Take these practice sessions seriously. Like the saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.”

PROSPECTIVE JOB                                                                                                                      

Tell us what experience and training you have that qualifies you for this position.


Determine the areas to cover, e.g., personnel management, budgeting, planning, project coordination and job related tasks. Ask the interviewer to repeat the question or to be specific. This will give you time to organize some thoughts and insure you cover needed items.

How did you find out about this job?

What do you know about this organization?

Why did you apply for this job?


I see this move as an excellent advancement opportunity.

What do you expect to do?


I expect to use the skills I have gained through experience and the education I have pursued. This position appears to be very challenging and exciting. It has a great deal of responsibility and diversity.

What do you know about this job?


Based on the job announcement and the supplemental information provided, I see this position as being very similar to positions I've been filling since I completed my Naval service. My Naval service provided me with a comprehensive technical knowledge with respect to facilities maintenance and general management.


Where did you find this out?

Would you have any objection to doing work that is not directly related to your trade or part of your job description?

Are you available for travel?

Are you willing to work overtime on short notice?

Are you willing to work 2nd or 3rd shifts?

Are you willing to work overlapping shifts, e.g., 11AM to 7PM?

Are you willing to work weekends?

What are your plans for the future or where do you expect to be in 5 years?


I would like to return to college and obtain a master's degree which would prepare me for advancement and growth. The county of San Diego continues to grow, Therefore I would expect this position to grow with it remaining very challenging.

Why should you be hired?


I have over thirty years of experience in this area, both in management and hands on. I am competent, reliable, and believe that I will do a good job.

Why should I choose you over other applicants?


All I can do is assure you, I am competent, reliable, enthusiastic, and will work very hard to do an excellent job for the company. The company won't regret hiring me.

What would you do to improve the organization?


Since I am not familiar with this particular organization, I can offer little at this time. However, I would meet with my staff and others to see what ideas they had and what problems were being experienced. I would encourage them to examine their areas carefully and challenge them to find better ways. I would compare my past experience with current methods and promote, not demand, change where it appeared worthwhile.


When I suspect that a change might produce beneficial results, I will propose it to my supervisor. If he or she concurs, that it appears reasonable, I would then do a justification analysis and discuss it with peers and other's impacted by it; I will then make the appropriate recommendation. If it is my decision to make, I'd discuss it with my staff and get their input.


In my current position with the district, I have instituted and recommended several changes. I have recommended the establishment of a small construction crew to accomplish small scale renovation. This provided for better scheduling. I increased the staff, by reassignment, on the Mobile Repair Units as well as promoted a second one. I believe this improved our service and by having staff assigned to one site there is less time spent on unproductive travel.


Since there are, in general, many ways to accomplish a task, I work hard at making the system fit the individual. Don't force a left handed individual to do things with their right hand, when they can do it much better with their left.

How much do you expect to be paid?


I would expect to be placed at a level above anyone I would be required to supervise. Aside from that, I really am more interested in advancement. Advancement to me reflects recognition for past accomplishments and would give me a greater sense of self-esteem.

What have you done to prepare for this position?

What will you do if you are not selected for this position?

CURRENT OR LAST JOB                                                                                                             

Are you presently employed?

Why do you want to leave your current job or why did you leave your last job?


I am not leaving my current job. I really do enjoy my position. I have a responsibility and a good working environment. I see this move as career enhancing and an advancement.


Then why have you stayed there?


The work is interesting and challenging. The people are really great. This position offers an excellent career opportunity with the probability of continued growth.

How long have or were you there?

Describe what you do or did?

If your former boss(es) or employer were contacted what would they say about your:




That I am competent and have excellent skills. Overall my evaluations reflect above average performance.


Ability to get along?


Very well


Willingness to go beyond job description?


That I accept all assignments. I've been criticized for doing more than I should, by peers.


Attendance? (illegal)

How would you think your staff would feel about your leaving?

If you were to be promoted, how do you think your staff would feel?

How do you think peers or others that you will supervise feel?

How many days sick leave did you use last year?

How many days sick leave (average) did you use per year over the last __ years?

What did you like best about your job?


There is a great deal of variety and challenging work. One day is almost never like another.

What did you like least about your job?


Vandalism. It causes a needless waste of resources.

What things annoy you most about your work?


Vandalism. It causes a needless waste of resources.. Assuming you havenít said this already, if so, find something else.

What is the biggest on-going problem?


Vandalism. It causes a needless waste of resources.. Assuming you havenít said this already, if so, find something else.

What types of tools or equipment have you operated?


Explain their proper use.

What type of equipment have you serviced?

What are your responsibilities regarding contracts related to construction, renovations, and repairs?


For projects and work I manage, I am responsible for all phases of contracting, that is, specification development, soliciting quotes, and administration.

How would you handle contract problems?


First, I would develop good specifications.


Secondly, I would track the work closely.


Most problems can be eliminated by good planning, well define specifications, and establishment of open communication between a manager and contractor.


On one ship (Mobile), I developed a tracking system which proved to be very beneficial. My area of responsibility had virtually no problems at the end of the ship's overhaul.

What would you say was the most important contribution you made to your last employer?


By doing my job in a competent manner, I contributed to enhancing the work environment and motivation of my staff. This provides greater return on investment, day to day.

Describe your typical day?

PERSONAL TRAITS                                                                                                                      

How would you describe yourself?


I am an extroverted and expressive. I work hard at what I do and strive to do all things in a superior manner. I particularly enjoy complex and challenging things; they make me feel good when I've accomplished them.

Tell me a little about yourself?

What are your assets (strengths)?


I accept criticism in a positive manner, i.e., I do not get defensive, I carefully examine it and if it is valid (which it has been) I make the necessary changes.








Fast learner


Wide range of experience



What are your liabilities (weaknesses)?


In a seminar I attended at PUSD -- Producing Results Through Others, I was shown that I should do more analysis. Since I've taken that course, I take more time making decisions. I do not have the memory I would like, so to compensate I write things down that I need to remember.


When I discover that I have a problem, usually I am told by someone else and I agree, I work very hard at correcting it. Sometimes, I have found that what I think is an asset, someone else may see it as a liability, e.g., aggressiveness and enthusiasm can be mistaken for being pushy. In these cases, I adjust my behavior. I have realized that a person's perception, is their reality.

Tell us a time when you planned something that failed.


What did you do?

You probably consider yourself competent; can you tell us why?


Throughout my career, my supervisors' performance evaluations have reflected that they considered me competent, and in cases superior.

What would you like to do most?


I would like to have a small shop/laboratory where I could do research and work on some inventions. Become a successful writer.


What was the most creative thing you’ve done?


Are you a people or task person?


In general, the situation will dictate the way I must lean. I do care about my staff and others. When all is considered, I suspect I would be considered a people person.

If you could change something in the past, what would it be?


I would stay in school and have gone to college.

What was the worst mistake you made?


Not listening to people when I was young.

Do you like to work alone?


While I generally prefer to work with others, there are some jobs that are better accomplished by one person. I have no difficulty doing them. I do not think I would enjoy working in an isolated area for an extended period of time.

How would you describe the way you work with others?


I work very well with others.

What do you do or what are your interests when you're not working?


I write, play tennis, enjoy reading, and working with my computer. I would also like to do some research.

Are you married? (illegal)

How would you deal with an angry person?


When dealing with any angry person, you must remain calm, be objective, speak softly, and most important, listen; you need to understand the problem.


a. Co-worker b. Boss c. Subordinate d. Customer

e. Parent

How would you respond to an angry principal or site manager?

      What do you think might make a customer mad?

What would you do if you are told to do something you disagreed with?


If time permitted and allowed, I would first get as much information as possible and then present my views. Nevertheless, I would do the job. Of course, Iím assuming it legal and safe.


Supposed it were just something you disliked?


I expect a certain amount of work I dislike. I guess it's like dirty diapers, it's a dirty job nobody likes but it must be done, and I've done it.


What would you do if it were unsafe or illegal?


I would attempt to tell my supervisor why I thought it was wrong. However, if the supervisor said it didnít matter, I would refuse. I really wouldnít want to work anywhere where I was expected to do something unsafe or illegal.

What would you do if your supervisor tells you that he (or she)has a high priority job for you and you think the one you are doing is more important?


I would tell him (or her) what I was doing and why I believed it was more important. However, if he told me to do his task first, I would. It is his responsibility and decision to make.

What would you do if a co-worker were doing something illegal, for example drinking alcohol or using drugs?


I would report him (or her) to my supervisor or other proper authority. I would consider notifying the police.

What would you do if a co-worker were doing something unsafe or against code?


I would approach him (or her) and try to discuss what I perceived as an unsafe condition or code violation. If after discussing it, he (or she) continued to proceed, and I still felt it was wrong, I would speak to his supervisor; I would also let him (or her) know that I was doing this.

What would you do if the behavior of a co-worker were poor or their performance were substandard.


If I had to work with the individual on a project or their performance reflected on mine, I would discuss it with him (or her) and try to encourage better performance.


What if you did not work with the individual or their performance did not reflect on yours?


I don't think I could properly evaluate someone's performance I have no control of. Anything I would observe would be limited and skewed.

How would you deal with a work related situation that upset or frustrated you? Please describe a situation and explain how you would handle it?


Vandalism upsets and frustrates me. I have learned that immediate correction helps to reduce subsequent vandalism. I just take a deep breath and move on to things I can do something about.

What would you do if students, teachers, or other people started to stand around and watch you?


If they started to get in your way or interfere with your work?


They became hostile?

How would you respond to a principal or site manager that told you to do something?


What if it appeared to be too costly?

How do you handle stress?


Mostly running and meditation. I also find writing to be very stress relieving. I have written two books (not published) and have several others in progress. I also play tennis or soccer and take my frustration and anxiety out on the ball. If I can't do that I take a walk or squeeze my fingerótips; it sort of acts like acupuncture.

Did you go to college? Why?


I believe that a degree is regarded as a measure of someone's ability and is very important to advancement. To enhance my knowledge of electrical/electronic theory and design. I am doing some personal research in the field of electromagnetic attraction of non-ferrous conductive materials.

What courses did you like best? Why?


Research, it allowed me to work on projects that did not have prior solutions. In one case I was able to determine why an electromagnet was able to attract non-ferrous metal.

What courses did you like least? Why?


I enjoyed all my courses. I even found courses that I disliked in high school, for example history, to be very enjoyable; it gave me a personal insight into my values.

How does your education apply to this job?


Writing, math, and investigative skills I developed, apply to virtually all areas of my current position and I suspect to this position as well.

How does your experience apply to this job?


My current position performs all the duties of the assistant director, except that the emphasis is on operational management and in-house projects. As a hospital facilities engineer, I performed all duties, to varying degrees, related to facilities management. Much of my naval service also applies.

What do you do if you have completed your work?


Go on to the next job.

How do you deal with leaving work incomplete and continuously shifting priorities or partial projects?


I know that some aspects of my work will never be completed. I continually review projects to accomplish and readjust priorities.

How do you feel about cross training?

How would you set priorities when receiving work from more than one person?


Unless otherwise directed, first in -- first out.

How do you feel about doing redundant tasks?


Redundant tasks lack somewhat on rewards but they are the things that make for smooth operation. When I do a redundant task, I try to make them challenging and find ways to do them more efficiently, for example, doing them on a computer.

How do you feel about taking orders from a woman?

How do you feel about working with women?

How would you feel about working for someone much younger than you?

How do you feel about serving as a helper?


Working as an apprentice (assistant) builds confidence. When there is someone to mentor you and correct mistakes, skill development is more enjoyable.

What event made you the angriest within the ____.

If you were to have problems with a supervisor, how would you approach him/her?


I would make an appointment to discuss the matter. I would explain what I perceived as a problem. When I've actually had such a problem, I found in most cases there really wasn't a problem, and in those that were real, we were able to work them out.

How would you feel about routinely ending the day without completing your work or knowing that the backlog is bigger?


If my boss doesn't think it's because of lack of effort on my part, it's increased job security. If a lot of important work begins to backup, I will work extra hours and ask for help.

What do you do to get up for the day?


I enjoy what I do, so I don't do anything special to get motivated.

Do you enjoy what you do?


Yes! Very much so, I believe that I'm good at it.

What do you think you should be held accountable for?


All things I have responsibility for, providing, I have the authority to control them.

Have you ever been opposed to management?


If you are talking about a particular decision or policy, yes. I approach my supervisor and explain or state my views. If I felt really strongly, I would go higher. Nevertheless, I would support it, providing of course it were legal.

How would you handle a request that was not covered by rules, policy, or other requirements?


I would discuss it with my supervisor, and perhaps peers. I might call my counterpart at other districts to see if they had a similar situation. I would explore the apparent pros and cons.

Do you consider rules and policies do's or don'ts?


Some policies are don'ts; don't use drugs. Some policies are do's; do follow safety precautions.


When you feel that a rule or policy is incorrect or wrong, what would you do?

When I feel strongly about a policy, I believe is wrong, I follow established procedures for expressing my views, with whatever supporting data I can gather, to the appropriate authority.

How would you deal with a late request; you are getting ready to leave for the day?


It would depend on such things as immediate need, length of job, availability of resources, and prior commitment.

Whom would you deal with first: staff, vendor, or customer?


Unless one of them had a prior appointment or there was a serious problem, I would deal with them on a "first come first serviced basis.'

How would you go about implementing an idea or procedure?


I would meet with those it impacted and get their inputs on how to proceed as well as if there were any reasons it might not be appropriate. I would then allow them time to think about it. The chances of success are much better when staff is supportive.

How would you feel about signing for something you haven't seen?


I won't.

How do you keep abreast of changes in your field?


Read, attend seminars, trade shows, and ask lots of questions.

Have you taken any course on your own time?


Recently no but I've read several books and will probably take some more management courses in the near future.

What does "follow through" mean to you?


To keep checking on a job or task until it is complete, in both mine and the customer's mind.

What would you do if you found someone in the organization, not assigned to your department, making unauthorized repairs?


Suppose it was a poor or sloppy job?


What if it would create a malfunction?


Suppose it were hazardous?

If you could be anything other than a human what would you be?


An eagle.




I would enjoy flying and living in the mountains.

What do you want most from a boss?


Consistency and know where I stand and support.

Why is it important to follow accepted procedures or comply with regulation/codes?


Balance between customer service and economical use of resources

How does your staff feel about your organizing skills?

What was a major change in your life?


When I completed my Naval career.


What did you do to adjust?


I guess I was always a civilian at heart. My biggest concern was finding a second career that was challenging and enjoyable.

What do you consider was the worst thing that happened to you?

What do you consider was your worst failure?

What was the most challenging thing you've done?

What was the least challenging thing you've done?

What was the greatest obstacle you faced?


How did you deal with it?

Who do you admire most?


Albert Einstein, Harry Truman, and Don Shula




Einstein because of his brilliance and humanness. Truman because of his ability to accept responsibility, his integrity, and down to earth personality. Shula because he is able to bring the best out of his people and is creative in utilizing their skills to the maximum.

Who do you dislike most?


Hitler and Saddam Hussein and people like them.




Because of their lack of respect for others and the abuse they carried out on others to achieve their aims.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

What do you consider your most significant setback?

What was the most creative thing you’ve done?

What does the statement, “If you keep score, winning is the only thing,” mean to you?



Remember! In dealing with personnel matters the first step would be to follow organizational policies. A careful review of the individuals performance, length of service and other such things should also be considered. Never be hasty in responding to personnel matters, take a few extra seconds to respond.

How would you describe your management style?


Lao-Tzu Philosophy -- Lead so other know they did it.


Participative and selling.


Lead by example.


Treat others as I would like to be treated.


Be truthful and sincere.

Have you had any failures with this method?


Only with small parts, for example, I have had staff that did not want to get involved with the decision making process at all.


How did you handle them?


I gave them assignments.

How do you motivate your people?


Motivation is like a communicable disease; if you are excited and enthusiastic the people you lead will generally respond accordingly. When I assign a task, I do so in a positive manner and encourage the person to do well by stressing the value of the work. If the reason is not obvious and time permits, I explain why it must be done. I check my peoples work to show my interest in their performance and give them recognition; not to find fault. Most people want to receive credit and have their work appreciated.

How do you think performance evaluation should be accomplished?

What are the qualities that a good manager has?


A good manager would be caring and understanding. Have integrity and a desire to get the most from available resources. An ability to see the whole picture and have a knowledge of the details.

What do you think the responsibilities for this job are?

What do you feel is the most important aspect of your job?


How would you deal with personnel that may feel they are better qualified than you are?

How would you go about learning technical skills of the trades personnel you supervise?


I would tag along and observe. In addition, I would take courses, attend seminars, speak to manufactures/vendors, contact professional organizations, and network with peers.

How would you manage union workers?


The same way I would treat non-union workers.

What is the most difficult personnel problem?


Termination and discipline.

What was the worst mistake you made dealing with people?


What did you learn from it?

Have you ever supervised other managers?


Yes, in the military, acting director of facilities, and as assistant director of facilities.


What type of problems do you encounter with them?


Independence. Most managers want to do their thing. In most cases this works best but there are those times when established procedures are best.

How would you manage someone you disliked?


I treat people with respect. In the day to day operation most decisions I make don't matter how I feel about someone -- like or dislike. When I make a decision that involve someone I dislike or like, I look very carefully at my reasoning to determine if there is any bias. I try hard to be fair.

Do you know what progressive discipline is?




Have you used it on anyone?




Please explain or give an example.


I've used it on many of my staff. Usually only the first few steps, i.e., counseling, documentation of warnings. This has generally led to satisfactory results.

Tell me about one of your workers that was a problem?


I had one employee that used a vehicle without authorization. The first time I gave a verbal warning. The second time I wrote a letter of reprimand and explained that the next time it could result in termination. He's still with us.

How would you motivate a marginal (but adequate) employee that had little desire to advance?

      Give an example.

How would you handle a marginal employee?


I would discuss the individual's performance with them and set goals. I would also explore the possibility of reassignment and ways to make their work more rewarding.

How would you deal with individuals that use excessive sick leave?


What would you consider excessive?

If you were to terminate someone for behavior reasons, how would you do it?


I would have documented any past history. I would discuss my plans with my boss to make sure I was doing the correct thing. Then I would meet with the personnel manager to make sure I was following the proper and legal procedures.

Do you see yourself as on management side or personnel side?


I see myself as part of a team. I work to accomplish our goals and assigned tasks the most effective way. When it comes to supporting management policies, I do.

How would you enhance your staff's skills?


I believe in training. I would encourage attending school. If funds where budgeted, I would promote attendance of courses and seminars. I would try to make or find tasks that would be challenging and stimulating and thereby be a learning device.

How would you keep track of many various projects?


I use project sheets, set goals, and document progress of work. I review them at least weekly; more often if necessary. Then make adjustments.

What type of budgeting have you done?


Manpower - work, overtime, and benefits


Projects - construction, renovation, and equipment modification


Material - Parts and consumable supplies



How would you go about establishing a budget?


I would review past spending, determine special plans, consider cost of living increases, organizational growth (or decline,) and anticipate changes in scope of work.

How would you determine if a trades person's performance met standards in quality and quantity, in an area you were not proficient in?

What major construction projects have you been involved with?


Installation of one-hundred-twenty-five portable building, three elementary school constructions Multi-Purpose rooms, a room addition for telephone switch system, installation of a vacuum system, modernization of hospital surgery, and installation of science labs.

What specifications have you written?


Telephone system for hospital, propane tank installation for emergency service at a medical facility, and equipment overhaul. I have reviewed and commented on over seventy-five percent of the specifications developed for the facilities department.

What was the most difficult task you performed in the last twelve months?


From May through July 1991, I managed over one-hundred-fifty projects, while performing most of the duties of the department director and energy utility engineer, and all of the duties of the maintenance supervisor and asbestos designated person. I must admit I enjoyed it.

Have you negotiated/coordinated a construction, renovation, or service contract?


I negotiated the telephone system for the hospital, the rebuilding of a sterilizer (a major job,) and projects that involved outside contractors, where the amounts were less than $15K.

What types of contracts have you managed?

Have you prepared reports?

How do you handle contracts and contract problems?


I have found that open, friendly communications, and a willingness to be fair, can often settle problems.

What is the most important aspect of leadership?

What do you look for during an inspection?

How would you set priorities for major (deferred maintenance) projects?


After consulting with appropriate personnel, the priorities I would use to make my recommendations are:


Health and safety.


The likelihood of progressive deterioration or damage.


Operational impact.


Projects that provide a payback


Routine upkeep and Aesthetics.

Where do you see the organization will be in 5 or 10 years?


Growing to about 40 schools by the year 2000 and our department will grow with it.

How would you reduce spending, if funds were cut?

If you had to reduce spending by 10%, how would you do it?


I would get together with my staff and ask them for their ideas and recommendations. I would then look at current procedures and see what adjustments could be made on a temporary basis, e.g., allow stock to be depleted and replace when funds are available. If other funds where available, such as site improvement, I would shift work to that area. If staffing had to be reduced I would recommend that a reduction in hours or time off without pay. For example, 4 hours per week would reduce labor costs by 10%. With this method nobody suffers layoff.

How do you respond to the squeaky wheel?


First, I would determine if it were a literal squeaky wheel; meaning that there may be a serious need for service. If so, it would need to be oiled, to insure proper operation. Then I would find out what caused the problem. However, if the squeaky wheel were the figurative type I would try very hard to discourage this approach by explaining the difficulty caused by performing service in this manner and further that it is somewhat unfair to others.

What would you do to improve this organization?

In the area of energy management what would you do to improve it?


Savings from existing equipment are generally achieved by operating them only when needed, by insuring they are operating properly, and as designed. I would like to see a central system for controlling and monitoring electrical, mechanical, and water systems. This system would be link by modem, thereby allowing remote operation and adjustment. The installation of Thermal Energy Storage at MCHS would produce greater efficiency at that site. Carefully review the recommendation of an energy engineer (staff or sale) and staff to determine if it is both possible and then feasible. In new projects I would utilize all possible sources, as well as my own knowledge, to determine what the best design, systems, and equipment to be used, within the available resources.

If you made a decision and had to change your mind, how would you go about telling your staff?

      How would you feel about it?

What is the difference between leadership and management?

What would you do if you found that you could not get along with your supervisor?

What would you do the first few days on the job?

What was the most difficult job you did?


Initially, I am tempted to speak about the challenging or complicated tasks, e.g., managing over 150 projects while assigned additional duties, repairs to a switchboard after a fire, providing services to NASA for space recovery team, but in truth it is the day to day mundane work that must be done. Work that you never get recognition for or a self-rewarding feeling. Matters that deal with personnel that are of a negative matter are difficult by nature and being sure you are taking the best action can weigh heavily. I work hard to do these well because they are the jobs that make an organization work well.

Have you had any formal (school) training?

Where and what type of experience do you have that is applicable to the position?

What are your plans to improve your skills?


I will continue to take courses, attend seminars, and read articles to maintain a current knowledge.

How good are you?

Do you know what any of the following mean?

a. NEC            b. NFPA        c. UMC          d. UPC

e. UFC             g. OSHA        h. EPA           j. DSA

f. UBC

What accomplishment gave you the greatest satisfaction?


I had 4 enlisted men work for me that advanced to officer grades at the same time. Two were warrants and two were ensigns.

What was your worst job related mistake?


I became over-confident and received an electrical shock while working on a circuit.

What type of work do you like best?


Complicated and challenging.

What type of work do you like least?


Redundant tasks.


How long have you lived here?

Do you have anything you wish to add?

Questions You Might Ask                                                                    


* Be interested in the job, not the benefits.

* Ask about next step.

* Ask about job duties.

* Avoid mention of money figures.

* Have a spare copy of résumé.

How many square feet is the facility?

Whom would I report to? May I meet this person?

How many personnel are assigned to the department?

What type of official training is offered

Does the organization encourage continuing training?


a. If so, does the company offer any support?

What size budget is there?

Are there plans for construction or major renovations?

What are the advancement opportunities?

Will I supervise anyone or how many personnel will I manage?

Why did the last person leave this job?


a. What is this person doing now?

What is the projected future of this company/organization?

Is this a new position?

** ask this one last **

What is going to be my biggest challenge?

Questions to add


Divide the management up into various groups

      1. Personnel

             a. Motivation

             b. Discipline

             c. Training

             d. Supervision

      2. Project Management

      3. Financial