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Urban and Regional Planners Interview
Questions

29 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns

Updated August 17th, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Question 1 of 29
Why are you the best candidate for us?
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How to Answer
This is a great time to brag about yourself a little bit! Talk about any awards or recognition you have received and be sure to include something unique about yourself. This will help the hiring manager to remember you.
29 Urban and Regional Planners Interview Questions
Win your next job by practicing from our question bank. We have thousands of questions and answers created by interview experts.
  1. Why are you the best candidate for us?
  2. When have you provided an excellent presentation? Describe it to me, and why it was successful.
  3. When have you had to explain a process or idea, to someone who was either stubborn to the idea, or just did not understand the idea or process?
  4. When have you worked with difficult individuals? For example, people that may have very poor communication skills. How do you handle these situations?
  5. What is your greatest weakness? What are you doing to improve it?
  6. What is your greatest strength? How does it help you as a Urban and Regional Planner?
  7. What area in this city do you believe has the most potential?
  8. Why should we hire you?
  9. Why is urban planning important to you?
  10. Tell me about your education. How has it prepared you for a career as a Urban and Regional Planner?
  11. Tell me about a project you studied in college that impressed you the most.
  12. How have you incorporated public transportation into your past designs?
  13. Where do you get your inspiration from?
  14. What is most important to you, something quick and flashy, or something that is timeless?
  15. What projects have you worked on in the past?
  16. What would you begin to change about our community if you were given full access for planning today.
  17. Tell me about your portfolio. What do you like about it? What would you change?
  18. What do you believe makes a happy community?
  19. What cities have you studied that impressed you the most?
  20. Have you studied a poorly planned city project? Tell me about it and what went wrong.
  21. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  22. Are you a detail oriented person?
  23. Describe a time where you worked well under pressure.
  24. How are your communication skills?
  25. How would your former employer describe you?
  26. The planning process involves input from numerous groups, which requires great communication skills. When have you exemplified such skills in past work?
  27. What civic organizations do you belong to?
  28. What do you know about our company?
  29. How well do you know this market?
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15 Urban and Regional Planners Answer Examples with User Answers
1.
Why are you the best candidate for us?
This is a great time to brag about yourself a little bit! Talk about any awards or recognition you have received and be sure to include something unique about yourself. This will help the hiring manager to remember you.

Rachelle's Answer
"I feel that I am the best candidate for you because I bring direct experience in the types of community and residential projects that you specialize in. I am also a very strong technical artist and won the design award last year in my current company."
2.
When have you provided an excellent presentation? Describe it to me, and why it was successful.
Give an example of a time when you created your own presentation. Who did you present it to? What was the feedback?

Rachelle's Answer
"Just last month I was asked to present a city community plan to the surrounding residents. The plans were going to interrupt some of the surrounding wetlands which meant that some of the attendees were skeptical. I created a very clear and entertaining presentation in Keynote and rehearsed it for a few days prior. After presenting this to the 50 attendees, many of them commented on my knowledge and ability to answer their questions and address their concerns. I feel it was successful because everyone left with a full understanding of the project's pro's and con's."
Anonymous Answer
"I have provided many excellent presentations throughout my design career, specifically for the ULI competition in grad school. It was successful due to the amount of time and effort I put into the project, as well as the great infographics and renderings and how well everything connected to tell one cohesive story."
Rachelle's Answer
This sounds like a success, indeed! If applicable, discuss a bit about who you presented it to, and in front of how many people.
Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
3.
When have you had to explain a process or idea, to someone who was either stubborn to the idea, or just did not understand the idea or process?
Being able to teach is a really important skill, especially if you would like to become a manager or lead a team one day. Be sure to talk about a time where you were in this scenario and discuss the outcome.

Rachelle's Answer
"In my previous role I was tasked with the training of a new, junior planner. We were learning some of the basic steps on a project and he could not seem to understand 'why' we were doing things that way. I was able to break down the reason for his inability to learn and it was simply because he didn't understand the larger picture; or, end goal. We were able to move past that and now I am aware of the best way to communication with him."
Anonymous Answer
"During the process of getting important figures on board with the One Stop Shop permitting system it was difficult sometimes because some people did not understand the idea, so we had to set up multiple meetings and have much more communication with them than other people who understood the idea more easily."
Rachelle's Answer
This is a good example of a time when you needed to account for people learning at various paces. It may be useful to add in a bit about your ability to remain patient and helpful through the process.
Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
4.
When have you worked with difficult individuals? For example, people that may have very poor communication skills. How do you handle these situations?
There are difficult personalities in every industry and it's always best to talk about those situations in as positive of a light as possible. Be careful not to bash other people in the industry either.

Rachelle's Answer
"Working with difficult personalities is something that comes along with the job, from time-to-time. Being an urban planner, I find that the more difficult situations to navigate come when we need a work-around with a city design. The government is not the easiest to navigate and the employees are not always given the ability to decision make. If I do not get the answer or response that I am looking for, I will call another time, until I reach someone that I can work nicely with."
Anonymous Answer
"I was in charge of sending out inspections for the General Business Licenses. When people didn't respond, I would send multiple emails requesting the information or send emails to their managers, copying the previous emails I sent to those people."
Rachelle's Answer
Were you able to help these people become better communicators in the end? How did copying their managers on the email sequences help the situation?
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5.
What is your greatest weakness? What are you doing to improve it?
This answer should be focused on a work-related weakness but be careful not to say something you will regret later. Focus more on the positive. What you are doing to improve?

Rachelle's Answer
"In my last performance review my manager asked me to improve my working knowledge of GIS. I have since signed up for a course which will be complete in December."
Anonymous Answer
"I put too much into a project. I will work overtime because I am passionate about what I do, even if that has meant less family and friends time. I have taken steps against this, like turning off notifications of emails on my phone. On my latest vacation, I only looked at my email on the last day."
Rachelle's Answer
I recommend choosing a weakness that does not sound self-serving. "I work too hard" is an answer that many hiring authorities report as being too far towards selling your weakness as a strength. This could backfire. Is there anything listed in the job posting or job description that is a job requirement that you are not a 10/10 in when it comes to skills and strengths?
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6.
What is your greatest strength? How does it help you as a Urban and Regional Planner?
The answer that you give will help the hiring manager to determine if your greatest asset is something that they could use on their team. Be sure to follow your answer up with some type of confirmation of it's truth.

Rachelle's Answer
"My greatest strength is my ability to see the project in a large, full picture, before beginning any solid plans. My ability to view all facets of a plan has been incredibly helpful in my career as it prevents me from making some unnecessary errors and oversights. My current manager has made this comment to me multiple times in my past performance reviews."
Anonymous Answer
"My passion for getting better and taking whichever community I am working for."
Rachelle's Answer
Your passion for improving and helping others along the way is a high strength! Can you tie in how this helps you succeed in your career? The room for improvement sentence doesn't seem to fit here.
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7.
What area in this city do you believe has the most potential?
The research you have retained on the company prior to the interview will be important when answering this question. It is great to tell the interviewer about the areas of the city you would love to see revitalized however, be sure to know the company's past, current and future projects as well.

Rachelle's Answer
"I feel that the Inglewood area has the most potential as it's central, has a great vibe, and has a lot of thriving small businesses to offer amenities to the residents. Your recent project in the Renfrew area is a perfect example of that. It's another great neighbouring area that could benefit from a revitalization."
8.
Why should we hire you?
Similar to the 'What makes you the best candidate for us?' question, you will want to talk a bit about what makes you a stand out candidate for the role. This particular question also offers you the opportunity to ask for the job.

Rachelle's Answer
"You should hire me because I am a very talented planner with direct experience in the types of projects that you focus on. I know the industry and hold a strong reputation within it. Knowing what I have told you about myself; is there any reason why you would hesitate to hire me? Is there anything more I can clarify for you about my background?"
9.
Why is urban planning important to you?
This answer can be simply stated. Talk briefly about what you feel the benefits are to others' by having urban planning experts.

Rachelle's Answer
"Urban planning is not only important because it creates a sense of order in a city but it is also required for the safety of its citizens. I can make a difference in my city by providing insight towards a great future for generations to come."
10.
Tell me about your education. How has it prepared you for a career as a Urban and Regional Planner?
Talk about your level of education, where you went to University/College and where you completed your internship. Were you mentored by anyone along the way?

Rachelle's Answer
"I completed my Degree in Urban Planning from McGill University in Montreal. For my apprenticeship I worked for ABC architecture firm and was mentored greatly by one of the senior partners. This experience gave me a really full, and broad scope of the industry and it's expectations. The high level of quality work that was expected was immense but the pressure benefited me greatly."
Anonymous Answer
"I have a bachelor's degree in architecture with many classes in project management. I also have a master's degree in urban design. Not only can I design a project from a napkin sketch, but I can complete the cost estimate and manage the project from conception to completion."
Rachelle's Answer
Perfect! Your answer highlights your education while also exuding a ton of confidence.
Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
11.
Tell me about a project you studied in college that impressed you the most.
The answer that you give will show the interviewer what types of projects seem to interest you the most. Be sure to give examples of why you found the project impressive. (If, during college, you studied one of the past projects of this company you are interviewing with, even better!)

Rachelle's Answer
"One stand out project that I studied while in school was the Lotus building in Seattle. I believe your firm headed this project up? The fact that it was such an environmentally friendly project was really impressive to me. I see that your company continued with a focus on staying green. That is great, and a big interest of mine."
Anonymous Answer
"We worked on a Master Plan for a 100 plus acre site. We worked as a cohort, maximizing our undergraduate degrees' strengths simulating a multi-disciplinary team. I worked closely with another architect to create the 3D model for the project. It impressed me the most because it helped me learn early on that some people are not going to put as much effort as others and will do just enough to get by."
Rachelle's Answer
I was hoping this answer would end on a positive note! Your example sounded very team-oriented and then...whomp. Try talking positively about what you learned and how you yourself improved rather than focusing on others.
Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
12.
How have you incorporated public transportation into your past designs?
Planning public transportation in your designs can be a tedious task so be sure to bring examples of your work with you. Sometimes it is easier to show, than to tell! You can take the interviewer through your work history as well and touch on some of the designs you have done in the past.

Rachelle's Answer
"I have a few examples with me that I would be happy to show you. As far as incorporating public transportation into my designs, I have done so approximately 5 times this past year. Let me show you..."
Anonymous Answer
"We did a project in a neighborhood that lacks connectivity. We integrated a new transit stop and increase connectivity and desired paths throughout the shopping parking lots."
Rachelle's Answer
Great response! This project sounds like one with many moving parts, if you have a visual portfolio to support your answer, even better.
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13.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
What inspires you to be the best? Do you stay motivated through new inspiration? This answer can be basic or you can get a little bit more personal.

Rachelle's Answer
"My initial inspiration came from watching my mentor, a senior urban planner, take such pride when a project was complete. It truly is a great feeling to walk or drive through a project upon completion and be able to say that these were YOUR ideas, implemented. I also subscribe to a couple of architecture and planning magazines."
Anonymous Answer
"From nature, international visits, other cities that have prospered. Many different places."
Rachelle's Answer
Great! Try adding in your favorite places to visit or specifics when it comes to landmarks, etc.
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14.
What is most important to you, something quick and flashy, or something that is timeless?
This question will be important to the interviewer, as it will determine much about your potential fit within their organization. Do your research on the planning group prior to the interview. Are they known for flashy work or are they a reputable company with a reputation for long standing design?

Rachelle's Answer
"I fully believe that creating a timeless design is the most important. That doesn't mean that it can't be attractive or somewhat 'flashy' either. It needs to catch the eye, but also keep it."
Anonymous Answer
"Something timeless, lasting design is a good design in my book."
Rachelle's Answer
Well said!
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15.
What projects have you worked on in the past?
It is really important to mention projects that the interviewer will be familiar with. The more they can visualize your work, the better.

Rachelle's Answer
"The projects that you would be most familiar with would be some of the larger scale projects that I have worked on. For example, the community of Madigan is a big one in my portfolio. Mount Pleasant is another. For commercial, I also worked on the traffic flow, parking and green space for the Crossroads Mall development."
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