Interview Questionnaire Guide
Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance
OEO/Searches:Interview Questionnaire Guide 1
The following Interview Questionnaire Guide has been developed to provide hiring administrators with a
resource from which to select questions that will help identify the candidate who will be most successful in
a position. Because research has shown that past behavior is predictive of future behavior, the questions
are behavior-based. They will prevent a supervisor from missing important information, overlooking job
motivation and organizational fit, and asking illegal, non-job-related questions. The same set of questions
should be used to interview all candidates.
The on-campus interview is one of the most crucial steps in the recruitment and selection process. All
members of the search committee must be committed to providing an interview process that is fair,
consistent and respectful of candidates while fulfilling the purpose of the interview.
The purpose of the interview is to gather information about the candidate to see if he or she is a good fit
for the position as advertised. The interview should be designed in a manner to illicit information from the
candidate to guide the search committee in making a decision whether the candidate can fulfill the job-
related requirements. Keeping in mind that while “personality,” “collegiality” and “good fit” are important
aspects to consider when evaluating candidates a person should not be eliminated solely because of
those factors. Moreover, recent court cases suggests that using “personality” ”collegiality”, and “good fit”
as a reason to deny an opportunity has been called into question, partially due to the fact that these
factors can easily become a smokescreen for subtle forms of discrimination.
In order to conduct a good interview, the search committee must plan all aspects of the process, the
itinerary, the interview questions, who the candidate should meet, etc. In addition, the search committee
should consider devising an interview that will allow them to see the candidate “in action”. One way of
accomplishing this is to ask behavior-based interview questions. Behavior-based interview questions are
based on the principle that past behavior predicts future behavior. Behavior-based questions should be
designed to allow the candidate to tell a story by giving a specific example of how the candidate “actually”
behaved in a past situation that may happen in the position the committee is hiring for. Using the above
dynamic to interview a candidate does not allow for hypothetical responses, but allows the search
committee an opportunity to see how the candidate behaved in the past, which suggests how they will
behave if given that situation today. Along with asking job-related behavior-based interview questions,
the search committee should also include questions to find out what motivates candidates and what type
of environments the candidate likes working in. Gathering information about what motivates and the
types of environments the candidate likes working in is an excellent predictor of whether your position is a
good “job fit” for the University, as well as the individual.
When developing interview questions, consider the following:
Ask only for information that will serve as a basis for the hiring decision; and
Know how the information will be used to make the decision
The search committee, with the assistance of key stakeholders, should develop behavior-based
questions based on each major task and responsibility in the position description and on the knowledge,
skills, and abilities required by the position. Problem solving questions that allow the applicant to think
creatively should be included. When possible, refrain from asking questions that elicit only a “yes” or “no”
response. The search committee should focus on asking open-ended questions, which allows the
candidate the opportunity to provide an example.
A second way that the committee can devise a way to see the candidate in action is by requiring the
candidate to perform a job-related activity while they are on campus, such as conducting a class lecture,
general presentation, advising session, demonstrating how to use a software package, etc. The key here
is that the activity must be job-related. For example, it would be in appropriate to have a candidate
interviewing for a computer technician position give a classroom lecture.
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Keep in mind the goals of the interview process
Gather and assess information about the candidate’s knowledge, skills and abilities
Present a realistic description of the position
Ensure that all candidates have been treated fairly, consistently and respectfully
Foster a positive image of Missouri State University
Prepare for the Interview
Develop the Interview Questionnaire. The Questionnaire should address each of the major tasks
and/or responsibilities in the job description. If necessary assign specific individuals the
responsibility of addressing a specific area, i.e. your subject matter expert asking all questions on
a particular topic.
Develop the Evaluation Form for the search committee, as well as for the other constituents the
candidates will interact with such as students, community members, and/or other stakeholders.
The Evaluation Form should address each of the major tasks and/or responsibility in the job
description, if appropriate for the audience. For example, a form that is designed for student
evaluations need not address the candidate’s budgetary responsibilities.
Develop the itinerary for each candidate. Assign a primary point-of-contact for each candidate for
the entire interview. In addition, assign a person from the search committee to escort the
candidate from his/her appointments.
Review the candidate files, including reference checks, phone interview notes and other
information that has been gathered.
Develop the search committee agenda for each candidate. The core group of questions should
be the same for all candidates. However, it is appropriate to ask questions to clarify aspects of
the person’s background, education, and or resume.
Consider hosting an interview workshop for the search committee as well as for the other
constituents involved in the process.
Make sure that everyone invited to interact with the candidate has reviewed the appropriate and
inappropriate question sheet.
Assign a primary contact person for the candidate whose responsibilities included: confirming the
interview the day before the visit, providing the candidate with contact numbers, as well as a back
up phone number, confirming with the search committee and other campus constituencies the
candidate agenda, maintain contact with the candidate during the process to resolve any issues
that may arise, and follow up with the candidate to see if he/she has additional questions.
Prepare the meeting rooms and confirm the hotel, travel arrangements and meal arrangements.
It is nice to provide a welcoming basket for the candidate in their hotel room that includes an
updated itinerary and literature about Missouri State University and the Springfield community.
Conduct the On-campus Interview
Establish rapport with the candidate. Make your candidate comfortable. Make sure all parties in
the process are introduced, including their title.
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Explain the purpose of the interview and set the agenda. Explain how the interview is structured,
briefly describe the job and explain that the candidate will have an opportunity to ask questions.
Control the Interview. The interviewer must combine careful listening with good use of questions
and follow-up questions. Give non-verbal signs of listening.
Describe the job and the organization. Provide the candidate with the details about the position
and the department, including both favorable and unfavorable facts. Be straightforward.
Provide the candidate with an opportunity to ask questions.
Conclude the interview. Provide the candidate with a time frame of the next step in the process
and thank him/her for their interest in the position and their time.
Stay on schedule.
Attend to appearance. Make sure people are properly attired for the interview.
Suggested Interview Time Line
Introduction: 10 minutes
Interest in the Position: 5 minutes
Prepared Interview Questions: 30 to 45 minutes
Candidate’s Questions: 10 to 15 minutes
Sell the Position: 3 to 5 minutes
Conclusion 2 to 5 minutes
The following sections provide sample questions to be used in evaluating various performance factors. All
questions in each section need not be asked. However, each candidate should be asked the same initial
set of questions. In the case of multiple interviewers, the hiring administrator/search chair should decide
who will be evaluating which factor(s). Each interviewer is then assigned three to four questions from the
respective factor list(s) to ask of every candidate. The following sample questions are not an exhaustive
list of performance factors. Other factors that may be considered include decision-making, performance
management, integrity, adaptability, and collaboration. The Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance
and/or Human Resource can work with the department to develop additional question that address these
and other performance factors, if necessary.
Background Review Application/Résumé
The following questions are designed to confirm the information on the candidate’s résumé. Verify the
address and phone numbers with information.
What is the highest level of education you have received?
List any other education or training relevant to the (position title) position.
Who is your present or most recent employer?
What are/were your major responsibilities at (present/most recent job)?
Ask questions to discuss/determine skills and level of expertise related to (position title).
What do/did you like best about that position?
What do/did you like least?
Why are you planning to/did you leave that position?
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Following is a list of sample questions designed to gather information about an individual’s ability to
identify tasks that need to be done without specifically being told to do them.
1. Have you found any ways to make your job easier or more rewarding?
2. Have you ever recognized a problem before your boss or others in the organization? How did you
3. We’ve all had occasions when we were working on something that just “slipped through the
cracks.” Can you give me some examples of when this happened to you? Cause? Result?
4. In your past experience, have you noticed any process or task that was being done unsafely
(incorrectly)? How did you discover it or come to notice it?
5. Give me some examples of doing more than required in your job?
6. Can you think of some projects or ideas (not necessarily your own) that were carried out
successfully primarily because of your efforts?
7. What new ideas or suggestions have you come up with at work?
8. Is working as part of an organization that is doing something noble important to you? Why or why
9. Did you consider your prior job to be a “noble cause”? If so, why? If not, why not?
10. Tell me about a time when you witnessed extraordinary customer service.
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Following is a list of questions designed to provide information relating to an individual’s stability of
performance under pressure. These questions are not designed to rate a person’s stress level. They are
designed to give the interviewer an idea of how the applicant has reacted to past stressful situations.
1. What pressures do you feel in your job? How do you deal with them?
2. Describe the highest-pressure situations you have been under in your job recently. How did you
cope with them?
3. Tell me how you maintain constant performance while under time and workload pressures.
4. Describe the last time a person at work (students, co-worker, or boss) became irritated or lost
his/her temper. What did they do? How did you respond? What was the outcome?
5. Tell me about some situations in which you became frustrated or impatient when dealing with
(students, co-workers, or boss). What did you do?
6. Give me an example of when your ideas were strongly opposed by a co-worker or supervisor.
What was the situation? What was your reaction? What was the result?
7. Tell me about a time when you were given more work than you could accomplish by the due date.
What did you do?
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Planning and Organizing
The following is a list of questions designed to gather information relating to an individual’s ability to
schedule their work and handle multiple tasks.
1. How do you organize your work day?
2. How often is your time schedule upset by unforeseen circumstances? What do you do when that
happens? Tell me about a specific time.
3. Describe a typical day ... a typical week. (Interviewer, listen for planning.)
4. How do you establish priorities in scheduling your time? Give examples.
5. What is your procedure for keeping track of items requiring your attention?
6. We have all had times when we just could not get everything done on time. Tell me about a time that
this happened to you. What did you do?
7. Tell me how you establish a course of action to accomplish specific long- and short-term goals.
8. Do you postpone things? What are good reasons to postpone things?
9. How do you catch up on an accumulated backlog of work after a vacation or conference?
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Technical and/or Position Specific
Following is a list of questions designed to gather information relating to an individual’s past work
experience, duties, and working conditions which are similar to those of the position for which the
individual is being considered.
1. What training have you received in ____________________?
2. Describe your experience with the following tools and equipment. (Interviewer, list job related
3. Walk me through the procedures you would follow to_______________.
4. What equipment have you been trained to operate? When/where did you receive that training?
5. What equipment did you operate in your job at ___________________?
6. Describe your experience performing the following tasks. (Interviewer, list job related tasks.)
7. What job experiences have you had that would help you in this position?
8. How do you follow the prescribed standards of safety when performing (task)?
9. Being a ________________________ certainly requires a lot of technical knowledge. How did
you go about getting it? How long did it take you?
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Following is a list of questions designed to gather information relating to an individual’s personal standard
1. What are your standards of success in your job? What have you done to meet these standards?
2. What do you consider the most important contribution your department has made to your prior
organization? What was your role?
3. What factors, other than pay, do you consider most important in evaluating yourself or your
4. When judging the performance of others, what factors or characteristics are most important to
5. Describe the time you worked the hardest and felt the greatest sense of achievement.
6. Tell me about a time when you weren’t very pleased with your work performance. Why were you
upset with your performance? What did you do to turn around your performance?
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Following is a list of questions designed to gather information relating to a person’s ability to work and get
along with others.
1. We’ve all had to work with someone who is very difficult to get along with. Give me an example of
when this happened to you. Why was that person difficult? How did you handle the person? What
was the result?
2. When dealing with individuals or groups, how do you determine when you are pushing too hard?
How do you determine when you should back off? Give an example.
3. How do you go about developing rapport (relationships) with individuals at work?
4. Give me some examples of when one of your ideas was opposed in a discussion. How did you
5. Tell me, specifically, what you have done to show you are a team player at ______________.
6. We all have ways of showing consideration for others. What are some things you’ve done to
show concern or consideration for a co-worker?
7. How do you keep your employees informed as to what is going on in the
8. What methods do you use to keep informed as to what is going on in your
9. How do you try to convince a co-worker to work with you on a project if you need their help or
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Following is a list of questions designed to gather information relating to an individual’s communication
skills. This section also includes observations to be made during the interview. These questions should
be customized to fit your position. Normally, only two or three questions would be used.
1. We’ve all had occasions when we misinterpreted something that someone told us (like a due
date, complicated instructions, etc.). Give me a specific example of when this happened to you.
What was the situation? Why was there a misinterpretation? What was the outcome?
2. What kind of reports/proposals have you written? Can you give me some examples?
3. Give an example of when you told someone to do something, and they did it wrong. What was
the outcome? How did you react?
4. What reports that you are currently preparing (or recently prepared) are the most challenging and
5. What kinds of presentations have you made? Can you give me some examples? How many
presentations do you make a year? Who is the audience? What is the goal of your presentation?
6. Give me an example from your past work experience where you had to rely on information given
to you verbally to get the job done.
7. What different approaches do you use in talking with different people? How do you know you are
getting your point across?
8. What is the worst communication problem you have experienced? How did you handle it?
A. Consider if the applicant is able to express himself/herself effectively and in a well-organized manner.
B. Observe the applicant’s non-verbal communication.
C. Consider whether the applicant’s grammar, sentence structure, etc. are appropriate to the
requirements of the position.
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Following is a list of questions designed to gather information relating to an individual’s utilization of
appropriate interpersonal styles and methods in guiding individuals or a group toward task
1. Tell me about a time when you had to take a firm stand with a co-worker. What was the situation?
What was difficult about the co-worker? What was the firm stand you had to take?
2. Describe how you instruct someone to do something new. What were you training them to do?
Walk me through how you did it.
3. Tell me about a time when you had to win approval from your co-workers for a new idea or plan
4. Tell me about a new idea or way of doing something that you came up with which was agreed to
by the boss. What did you do to get it to the right person? What did you do to get the boss to
agree? Be specific.
5. Describe any supervisory or leadership training, schooling, or work experience you have had and
its relevance to this position.
6. What leadership skills and experience do you have that would qualify you as an effective leader?
7. Would your staff consider you to be “approachable”? Why or why not? Give an example.
8. Tell me about a time when you set a vision for the future and how you tried convince others to
“buy into” that vision.
9. Do you tend to favor being a decision-maker or implementer?
10. Was your previous team of direct reports very similar to you or very different from you? How so?
What were the advantages and disadvantages of that type of team composition?
11. Tell me about a time when you approached a problem from a variety of different angles. How did
you do this? What was the outcome?
12. Tell me about a time when you had to run interference or “take an arrow for the team” to help
ensure your teams success.
13. Tell me about a time when one of your team members didn’t perform satisfactorily. How did you
react? What action did you take to ensure the problem didn’t occur again?
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14. Tell me about a time when you had to fire a member of your team. What was the cause/reason?
How did you handle it? How did the rest of your team react?
15. Tell me about a time when your team was given a project/assignment, but was provided
insufficient resources to get the job done. How did you react?
16. Tell me about a time when, as the leaders, you had to admit you did not have all the answers.
How did you do it? How was it received by your team?
17. Describe a leader who has influenced you in your work. Tell me how you experienced this
person’s influence. How was that person inspiring?
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Following is a list of questions designed to help identify an applicant’s motivation to do the type of work
the position requires. The intent is not to see if they had good motivation/satisfaction in their previous
jobs, but to see if the types of things they enjoy doing will be available in this position. For example, if a
person said she enjoyed her last job because she liked to work outside and with people doing different
things all of the time, a desk job in accounting would probably not provide high satisfaction.
1. What do you like best (least) about your job as a _______________________?
2. What were/are your reasons for leaving _________________________________?
3. Give me some examples of experiences in your job at ________________that were satisfying?
4. What gave you the greatest feeling of achievement in your job at ______________? Why? Or tell
me about a time on the job when you felt most effective and engaged. What made this possible?
5. All jobs have their frustrations and problems. Describe specific job conditions, tasks, or
assignments that have been dissatisfying to you. Why?
6. Give me some examples of past work experience that you have found personal satisfaction.
7. What are some recent responsibilities you have taken on? Why did you assume these
8. Tell me about a time when the duties and responsibilities available in a specific position
overlapped with duties and responsibilities that brought you personal satisfaction.
9. Why do you want to be a (title of position)?
10. Why did you choose this (career, type of work)?
11. What work-related accomplishment are you most proud of?
12. What is it about this line of work that gives you personal satisfaction?
13. What are some sources of pride for you in your work?
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1. How have you demonstrated your commitment to women’s and/or minority issues in your current
2. Which of your achievements in the area of equity for women and/or minorities gives you the most
3. Which of your accomplishments in the area equity for women and/or minorities was the hardest to
4. How would you demonstrate your concern for equity for women and/or minorities if you were
5. Our institution is committed to fostering equity for women and/or minorities. What does
“coeducation” mean to you? What steps would you take to ensure that genuine coeducation
takes place on our campus?
6. In your opinion, what are the three major problems for women and/or minorities on your campus?
7. What are some issues of importance to women and/or minorities on your campus?
8. In general, how are minority women’s issues different from women’s issues and minority men’s
9. How has the women’s and/or minority movement affected your professional life?
10. Do you think that most women’s and/or minorities equity issues have been resolved? Is it time to
turn our attention to other issues?
11. How are general issues in higher education related to women’s and/or minority issues? What is
12. Institutions collect and analyze data but often that data is not broken down by sex. When it is
important to do analysis by sex?
1. In what ways have you mentored, supported, or encouraged woman and/or minorities on your
2. Have you ever worked actively on behalf of any of the following? If so, how?
a. women’s studies program
b. affirmative action policies, programs, or activities on behalf of women and/or minority
c. sexual harassment policies
d. rape crisis programs, including judicial procedures, and so forth
e. women’s and/or minority support groups at your college/university
f. child care arrangements for faculty, staff, and students
3. Describe activities-including articles, interviews, and speeches-in which you have taken part in
that demonstrates a public commitment to women’s and/or minority equity.
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4. What are your views about women’s and/or minority studies and new scholarship on women
5. To whom do you go for advice about women and/or minority issues?
6. What do you think of older women and/or minorities returning to school? Do you think that they
need special services or other help? If so, what would you suggest?
7. In your current position, have you ever seen a woman and/or a minority treated unfairly? How
would/did you handle it?
8. Many female and/or minority graduate students face an increasingly chilly climate at a time when
they are in transition between being a student and a professional. Can you describe some of the
ways in which you think men, women and minority graduate students are treated differently by
faculty? By administrators? By other students? How would you promote the interests of female
and/or minority students?
1. In what ways do you think women and/or minority faculty and administrators are treated
differently from their white male counterparts? In what ways may such different treatment place
the women and/or minorities at a relative disadvantage in their personal and professional
development? What would you do to help change this situation?
2. How have you included women and/or minority colleagues in off-campus activities, such as
professional conferences and social events?
3. How much time do you spend informally (such as having lunch) with male, women and/or minority
4. What have you done to welcome new women and/or minority colleagues to campus/department?
5. Have you ever collaborated with a woman and/or minority on a research project or publication?
In what way?
6. Have you ever conducted research on gender-related and/or minority related issues?
7. Have you ever attended any activities such as lectures or films which were sponsored by women
and/or minority student’s organizations?
Questions for Prospective Administrators
1. In your current position, what is your relationship to the affirmative action officer? Have you ever
sought his or her help in recruiting?
2. How would you work to achieve equity for women and/or minority scholars in terms of promotion
3. How have you supported women and/or minority students’ organizations on campus? For
example, have you arranged for funding or office space?
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4. How do you view the roles of a womens and/or minority center, a commission on women and/or
minorities, and a womens and/or minority studies program?
5. Are there a women and/or minority center at your institution? How do you feel about women’s
and/or minorities center? What is your relationship to the women’s and/or minority center?
6. At your current institution, is there a commission on women and/or minorities? What is your
relationship to the commission? Do you think having a commission on women is a good idea?
How do you envision working with one here?
1. How many of the top people at your previous institution/department were women and/or
minorities? What did you do to encourage hiring more women and/or minorities?
2. Of the people you hired in your current position, what percentage are women and/or minorities?
3. What was the highest position to which you appointed a woman and/or a minority?
4. Have you been involved in a salary review at your current institution?
5. How will you ensure equity for women’s and/or minorities salaries?
6. What do you think about more women and/or minorities than men being hired as part-time faculty
with low salary, few benefits, and no place on the tenure track?
7. What are your feelings about stopping the tenure clock while a woman is on maternity leave?
8. What are the best ways to get people to think about and be aware of women’s and/or minorities
issues? How have you personally influenced others regarding women’s and/or minority issues?
9. Generally women and/or minority students do not participate in class as often as white men. How
have you helped members of your staff or department deal with this issue?
1. Which committee at your current institution would you consider the most powerful? How many
women and/or minorities are on it? How many women and/or minorities have you appointed to
2. White men, women and/or minority students often have different experiences at college that
affect their personal and professional development. How would you make the college
environment more equitable for women and/or minorities?
3. What do you think of having a nonsexist language policy for university communications? Would
you implement one here?
4. How would/did you address a lack of women and/or minority students or faculty members in
specific departments and divisions?
1. How serious a problem do you consider sexual harassment on your present campus? What
have you done about it? Is there a grievance procedure for harassment problems? How does it
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2. At your current institution, did you ever observe or hear examples of sexual harassment? How
would you deal with a similar instance if it happened here?
3. How did/would you deal with faculty members who say disparaging things about women and/or
4. What women’s and/or minority issues have you addressed in speeches you have given during the
last few years?
5. What is your relationship to the Pan-Hellenic society on your current campus? How do you
regulate or oversee fraternity and sorority activities?
6. Have you raised money for women’s and/or minority sports?
7. How have you worked to integrate women and/or minorities into sports and related activities,
including the band?
8. Do you belong to any clubs that restrict membership by sex? (Such memberships, particularly
when held by male administrators, may be a potential source of embarrassment when cited by
student groups and/or faculty senate).
Questions for Prospective Faculty
1. Do you regularly read or subscribe to any journals that deal with scholarships about women
2. What scholarship about women and/or minorities have you read lately? Whose work on women
and/or minorities have you found most related to your research? Your curriculum?
3. How do you incorporate new scholarship on women and/or minority into undergraduate
coursework? Into your research? Into graduate coursework? With your graduate students? How
do you help your colleagues do so?
4. Which women and/or minority scholars or authors do you include in your syllabi? Reading lists?
5. Some people say that separate women’s and/or minority studies courses are preferable to
integrating scholarships about women and/or minorities into the curriculum; others believe the
reverse. How does one balance these points of view? What priority and emphasis would you
give to generating research on the one hand, and then mainstreaming it on the other?
6. Have nay of your students ever written about women and/or minorities in their term papers?
Their dissertations or thesis?
1. In most classes women and/or minority students don’t participate as much as men. What have
you done to encourage women and/or minorities to participate in your classes? Has it worked?
2. Approximately how many men have you nominated for fellowships, awards, and prizes? How
many women and/or minorities?
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3. How many teaching or research assistants have you hired in the last two years? How many were
women and/or minorities?
4. (for science faculty) Research shows that women and/or minorities in science often have lower
aspirations than their male colleagues. Have you encountered this trend in your classes? What
do you do about it?
5. (for science faculty) What differences have you perceived in men, women and/or minorities in the
laboratory? Do you tend to have single-sex lab teams? Why?
6. How have you encouraged women and/or minority students to enter traditionally male fields?
7. What is your experience with faculty (and student) hostility to women and/or minorities and
women and/or minority issues? Have you seen or experienced any sort of backlash or denial,
where people say, in effect, “I don’t want to hear about it”? How do you deal with backlash and
8. Have any students ever complained to you about sexual harassment or discrimination in any
work with professors or staff? If so, how did you respond?
9. How do you feel about teaching students older than yourself?
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