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35 Interview Questions 30-Somethings Should Be Prepared to Answer

Posted by Eileen Hoenigman Meyer

Career Advice Expert

Last Updated December 11, 2017

Their thirties is a power-decade for many professionals. The experience they garner throughout their twenties can refine their skills, judgment, confidence, and professionalism as they mature into their 30’s. Successful pro’s at this stage are inclined to possess an informed self-awareness; they tend to be tuned into their strengths, challenges, and goals.   

It’s an exciting decade for professional growth. But with more ambition comes higher stakes. Heather Mercier, CFO and Head of Talent, with Experticity explains that to impress hiring managers at this level, a candidate needs to demonstrate “The ability to be a strategic thinker and influence across multiple departments.”  

Mercier further explains: “Mid-level professionals can advance their careers and impress senior execs by guiding vision and strategy, not just executing.  And, taking the next step of influencing others to support their point of view is critical.  Showing the ability to do these things will give a hiring manager confidence that he or she can depend on the individual way beyond managing and executing (which are table stakes).”

To be a success in your 30’s, you have to show that you can think big picture and influence others. You also want to demonstrate that you view the responsibilities listed in a job description more as building blocks than as an exhaustive to-do list.  

Here are some other specifics you need to know to kick off this power-decade with a killer interview:

Be an influencer

The 30’s are a decade when many pro’s find themselves engaging in leadership functions, but they may not yet have concrete leadership experience. Still, there’s relevant experience to emphasize.  

Mercier points out:

“Leadership is multi-faceted. . . To truly be a leader in an organization, candidates need to be able to influence others, have the ability to have broad organizational impact, solid independent judgment, organizational awareness and a growth mindset.  Candidates can exhibit many of these qualities through examples of previous times in their lives, not even necessarily in the work force.  If a candidate can exhibit potential in these areas through life experiences, then they have the potential to be solid leaders.”

Interviewers, then, are inclined to formulate questions aimed to tease out your critical thinking skills, judgement and problem-solving abilities. Questions like these, submitted by Glassdoor users, help interviewers to see how you’ve enacted these qualities in your life and work:

  1. What is your definition of a leader?
  2. Are you a leader or a follower?
  3. Tell me about a time when you had to be a leader.
  4. Describe your leadership experience in school and previous jobs?
  5. Describe a time when you had to work on a complicated task in a group.
  6. How would you handle multiple projects and deadlines from different supervisors?
  7. Tell me about a difficult decision you had to make at work where you didn’t know the right answer or course of action.
  8. Describe a time you went above and beyond.
  9. Tell me how you work with others.
  10. Describe a challenging work situation that you had to deal with. What were the primary concerns? How did you respond? What was the outcome?

Know what you want

At this point in your career, you should know what you’re looking for in an employer and in a role. Mercier explains that she engages candidates to “Talk about what drives them and keeps them up at night.” 

These are some questions that Mercier asks when she interviews mid-level candidates:

  1. What are you looking to accomplish in your career?
  2. What stresses you out?
  3. What makes you nervous in your role?
  4. What is your dream company to work for and why?
  5. Based on what you know about the role you are interviewing for, what is the most exciting thing that you believe that you will get to do?

Share your passion

This is an exciting career phase. You know your industry. You know the role you want to play. You’re poised and ready to snap up the job that truly suits you. Your passion is compelling. Share it.

Mercier explains:

“After 10-15 years of professional experience, I would hope the candidate would know what excites them and what frustrates them, and be able to articulate that clearly and with passion.  In an interview, candidates can give me insight into how their mind can be strategic and how they have executed in past jobs.  Poise, sophistication and emotion are important qualities to exhibit.”   

Consider these interview questions, submitted by Glassdoor users, which aim to give candidates the chance to wax eloquent about their professional passions:

  1. What do you like most about your current employment?
  2. What is your proudest achievement?
  3. Tell us about a time where you made a mistake and what did you do to fix it.
  4. Describe a situation where you turned a negative into a positive.
  5. What is your core strength, and where are you targeting professional growth for yourself?
  6. Tell me a goal that you hope to accomplish.
  7. Describe a decision you made that was a failure. What happened and why?
  8. If your supervisor gives you a direct order that you know is against company policy how do you handle the situation?
  9. What role do you think your manager should play?
  10. What do you look for in a manager?

Remain a beacon of calm

Tricky interview questions are not generally viewed as a good strategy. Most interviewers are not trying to trick you. They want your experience to be comfortable and they want the meeting to be a good use of everyone’s time.

But you’re leadership material now, so you should expect that the stakes are higher and you may get questions that give you pause.  Don’t stress; prepare and practice.

These are some headscratchers that Glassdoor user’s submitted:

  1. Did you ever over-promise to a customer? How did you handle that situation?
  2. When did you have to make an unpopular decision?
  3. Do you like helping people?
  4. Describe a situation where you felt you were right about something and everybody else was wrong.
  5. What do you expect from management?
  6. What is your five-year plan?
  7. Should you get it, how long do you see yourself committing to this position?
  8. What do you think it takes to succeed in this position?
  9. Explain how you would negotiate with another team to reduce the workload on your team.
  10. How do you handle the rare customer who remains unsatisfied?


Professionals at this point in their careers have a lot to offer. So prepare to impress, not just your interviewers but yourself. You’ve got this!

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