Best interview questions graphicIn life and in business, he who asks the best questions wins.

Here are some tried and true conversation starters I’ve used over the years. Some I created, others I gathered from colleagues and books. I hope you find them helpful.

  • What does your manager need to know about you in order to help you produce your best work? (The response will demonstrate applicant’s level of self awareness.)
  • Tell me about a defining event in your past – either professional or personal – that affects the way you work today.
  • Think back in your career to a time when you worked with someone you found energizing. Tell me about that person. What did he/she do that made you feel so good? (Did they learn new habits that continue to serve them? Is that person a mentor to them?)
  • Think back in your career to a time when you worked with someone who sapped your energy. Tell me about that person. What did he/she do that made you feel that way? What were your coping strategies? (Were they proactive, and understand the role they played in the relationship or did they take a victim stance – innocent and wronged?)
  • Tell me about your most memorable mistake – one that you were responsible for. (Admitting to and learning from mistakes shows leadership promise.)
  • What strategies do you employ to deal with conflicting priorities and deadlines? (This will tell you how much responsibility they accept — do they ask their supervisor to decide what’s to be done first — do they negotiate for new deadlines — do they not worry about it and do their best and leave at 5pm as usual?)
  • Tell me about a time when someone on your team disappointed you. (Speaks to their emotional intelligence and conflict resolution skills.)
  • Tell me some of the things you do in your current job that is above what is expected on a daily basis. (Once answer is complete – ask part 2) If you didn’t do those things, would anyone really notice or care? (This question seeks to determine whether these are indeed extra tasks, or really just a normal part of the daily requirements. Shows applicants viewpoint on how much to give.)
  • Does your employer do regular performance reviews? If yes — say: That’s great to hear. What did your supervisor record as your greatest area for growth? If no — say: That’s too bad. It’s so important to have regular reviews so that we can set development and growth targets. If you they had done reviews, which areas do you think your supervisor would have cited as most important to work on for personal and professional growth?
  • What are you looking for in your next employer? How will you know when you’ve found the right opportunity?
  • Let’s pretend that we’re several months in the future. You were selected for this role and it’s time for your 90-day review. You and I agree that this was not the right position for you. Use your imagination to come up with the most likely reason for us to come to this conclusion.

Do you have any questions to add?


 

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14 thoughts on “My Best Interview Questions

  1. Susan, what a thoughtful set of interview questions. They really invite the interviewee to reveal him or herself in terms of responsibility, awareness, ownership, viewpoint and more. And they respectfully attend to who the person is. As nerve-racking as interviews can be, I imagine this one could be a satisfying person to person experience. Thank you for your post.

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    1. Hi Naaz,

      You’re so right. Instead of asking the standard interview questions that appear to get us the info we need (but we really don’t), it’s a nice shift to try to really “get” the person. When they leave, they should feel great about talking about who they really are.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and for taking the time to leave a comment.

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  2. I’m thinking that answers to that last question could actually be pretty fun. I’m thinking that if it was a job I knew hands down I could do that my first thought would be that I was working for a company with a culture that didn’t value creativity/individuality but I know better than to blame outside sources because I still have the ability to choose how I respond. I’m going to ponder my actual answer to this one just for general practice and hope that any future interviewers I run into read your blog. Thanks for the head’s up 🙂

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    1. It’s a good one to think about. Not just to have an answer ready, but I think it helps us look at the prospective company a little more objectively. Maybe after thinking about our potential responses, we’d come up with better questions to ask the interviewer, like: In what ways does your company elicit or show appreciation for creativity/individuality?

      Thanks for the comment, Kieta.

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  3. It’s been many years since I was interviewed and as an introvert I always dreaded being asked questions and expected to provide on the spot answers. Your questions are thought provoking and so very carefully crafted. Thanks for sharing them here.

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    1. Hi timethief — I hear you. Not many people enjoy being interviewed. Believe it or not, sometimes recruiters feel the same way. I always feel pressured to ask the right questions so the candidate feels like I really “get” them, yet leave enough time so that I also dig into the hard skills required to do the job. Thanks very much for leaving a comment. 🙂

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  4. congrats on your new blog look! and i’ve noticed you’ve been posting like crazy … great questions, really like them. the last time i helped someone with interview questions, they were very specific. this one might apply to more people: what do you find to be the biggest challenge in working with clients who come from many different cultures?

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    1. Hi Isabella – That’s a good question. Could be quite revealing. I’ll add that one to my collection. The reason you’re seeing so much posting from me is I joined a 31-day blogging challenge to get myself back into the habit of daily writing. Thanks for noticing!

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