21 Interview Questions That Reveal A Lot About Potential Student Employees

Student employment can be life-changing for students and a huge help to your office.

However, before you get to the unforgettable learning experiences, you must first go through the hiring process.

Asking the right questions in an interview is critical to the employer, in making smart hiring decisions, and to ensuring that the students have a fair, enjoyable, and equitable interview experience.

Here are 21 questions you can ask potential student employees to get to know them better, ease the interview tension, and better understand the strengths of each interviewee.

Breaking the ice

1. Start with 1 or 2 ice breakers.
Icebreakers are a great way to help your students relax with a few chuckles and connect with others in the interview room. Check out this list of 100 silly and thought-provoking questions to ask students and make sure to have all of the interviewers participate too. Try to pick an icebreaker that reveals a part of the student’s personality or a value they hold dear.

2. Could you walk me through your work or involvement history?

Rather than asking “tell me about yourself,” get them to show you their work, volunteer, or involvement history and elaborate on their accomplishments within those spheres. For some students, having the attention on their experiences, rather than their personality, may be a sigh of relief. 

3. What’s something about you that we won’t see on your resume?

Get to know students apart from their resumes. They may bring up hobbies, academic courses, family activities, or even a project they’re working on for fun.

4. What motivated you to apply for this job?

Rather than “why did you apply to this job?”, I prefer to ask about a specific aspect of the decision — such as their motivations, interest in specific job responsibilities, and any hesitations they may have had in applying.

Personality & Values

5. What’s one personal value that you’ll never compromise?

I love asking this question as the answers demonstrate a core aspect of the interviewee’s personality and what unwavering values they will bring to your team.

6. Tell me about a personality test you’ve taken that described you really well or one that didn’t.

The answers could range from Myers Briggs to the results of a BuzzFeed quiz about what cupcake flavor represents them best. Either way, the answers should reveal a fun or interesting part of the student’s personality.

7. What’s something that fascinates you?

Ask applicants what topics they find interesting, want to learn more about, or enjoy pondering. The answers should reveal a lot about their aspirations, values, and goals.

8. What role do you typically play as part of a team? Can you provide an example of when you did so?

Working on a team — with faculty, staff, or other student workers — is often a large component of the student employee experience. This question can help you figure out how the interviewee might mesh with others.

9. If you were part of a bicycle, car, or a building, what part or floor would you be?

Similar to the last question, this prompt seeks to address team roles but with some additional creativity.


10. What interests you about this position?

Instead of asking “what do you know about this position?”, let students detail what parts of the job they’re most excited about. It will allow them to show off specific interests and showcase that they researched the role and your office beforehand.

11. Tell me about something you’ve learned recently.

Quick, creative thinking is a critical skill for many student jobs. This question can also help students without prior work history showcase their interests and passions.

12. What do you think would be the hardest part of this job?

Instead of the typical, “what are some of your weaknesses?”, this question helps you gauge students’ goals for growth and anticipated supervision needs. Additionally, a strong answer will show that they’ve done their homework researching your office and the position requirements.

13. What’s something you would improve about our office?

You can use this question to generate new ideas while also getting to see some of the student’s innovative thinking and critical analysis skills.


14. What’s a specific skill, relevant to this job, that you’d like to improve upon?

This question can help you garner important supervision information, along with the student’s goals and reasoning for wanting to work in your office.

15. What do you think success would look like in this position?

Help students highlight how they would demonstrate the essential trait of initiative in this position. It’s also an opportunity for them to share an example of when they’ve gone above and beyond.

16. How do you like to be supervised?

Open the dialogue for what kinds of expectations the student will have on the job. Knowing how to receive feedback will also help you be a better supervisor for the hired candidate(s).

17. What accomplishment on your resume are you most proud of?

Encourage students to come out of their shells and boast about their achievements.

18. What’s something not on your resume that you’re proud of?

Accomplishments can also come without grand recognitions, such as a note from a resident, a random act of kindness, or a class project they worked really hard on.


19. What’s your dream job or a personal life goal?

Keep in mind that although some students may not have decided on a major or career after graduation, you can still learn about their lofty dreams or personal goals.

20. If you could change the world, what’s one thing you would alter?

Making an impact on students is the goal of most student affairs professionals. Similarly, find out what challenges and ambitions drive your interviewees.

21. How does this job fit in with your personal or professional aspirations?

As many SA pros know, a  campus job can help students better understand their likes or dislikes within the workplace. Even if they don’t want to go into student affairs, working in your office can still help them develop communication, responsibility, empathy, and other skills valued by employers.

I hope some of these questions help you get to know your candidates on a deeper level! Relatedly, check out these 9 Essential Traits You Should Look for in Every Student Employee You Hire

How have you maximized the student interview experience on your campus? Continue the conversation with us on Twitter at @themoderncampus.


Corinna Kraemer

About the author: Corinna Kraemer (she/her) works in ed tech and loves painting, running, and hanging out with her cat, Mr. K. She hopes her posts will finally help her dad understand what her career in student affairs is all about. Learn how we can help get your students involved.