Interview Questions I Love
This week I'm going all hearts and warm fuzzies with over a dozen interview questions that I absolutely LOVE.
Last week I had to put a few really bad interview questions on the chopping block, so this week I want you to go beyond all the old standby's with some fresh, in-depth, and interesting questions to get your job candidates talking! "Tell me about yourself" can get officially retired because you will have way better questions than that!
The first question is a great opener to use in your first round of interviews:
What’s causing you to look for something new right now?
The goal here is not only to get the person talking and warm them up, but also to get at their motivation for making a change. Change is hard, why would they do it? Is their motivation a fit for your job and company?
Also remember that later on you can use their motivation as a selling point in the offer stage.
Next I like to cover a Work History Review. It might sound something like this:
Walk me through your resume. What did you accomplish at each job? Tell me why you left each job.
A Work History Review is just a great, basic, timeless interview technique to get to know a candidate and their past accomplishments and performance.
This question can be very effective in understanding motivation as well—look for common threads in career moves. Do you see any recurring red flags? Or do their accomplishments, motivators, past performance, and values seem like a good fit for your team?
I want to caution you: this can take time, so stay in control as the interviewer, keep them on track and watch the clock.
The next question is Taken from Lou Adler’s book “Hire with Your Head” -- a great read for Owners, managers, and HR pros alike. (P.S. I get exactly zero money for this but I still think you should read it!)
Lou Adler has actually proclaimed this "The most important interview question of all time"!
Are you ready for it? Here we go:
What is your most significant accomplishment in your career?
The author is careful to point out that you want to ask for lots of detail to get at what the accomplishment entailed, and why it was so significant in their eyes.
And I gotta agree with you, Lou, this is a great one!
Another great set of questions that I love, gets candidates talking about Challenges and Problem Solving.
Here are some options:
From our description, what do you think will be the biggest challenge for you in this job?
How will you tackle this challenge?
If you were to get this job, how would you go about solving X problem?
Remember that a precursor to asking this question is to clearly define objectives and challenges in the job.
This is a great question for potential leaders and managers. It shows you their problem solving, how they’ll approach the challenges they will face.
Remember: You’re not looking for a detailed proposal or consulting assignment, just a general overview of how that person would approach the problem at hand. (Don't you DARE use job interviews to get free consulting!! If you do, shame on you!)
Ratings are another interesting talking point to get to know a candidate.
Putting numbers to things, even theoretical, can really give some interesting insight into a person’s skill set, personality, and self-awareness.
Let’s use an example that you’re hiring for a job in which it’s required to have strong skills in Microsoft Excel.
So you might ask:
On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being an expert, how would you rate yourself in Microsoft Excel?
Be sure to follow up beyond the number and ask why they gave themselves that ranking, and how they think they could move up the scale (if they aren’t already a 10).
Another question I LOVE is to simply ask your interviewee what they think others’ opinions are of them!
How would your coworkers describe you?
How would your boss describe you?
Do you think that opinion of you is accurate?
I also love questions that allow a candidate to share their passions, or at least, what they enjoy most about their work.
You can simply ask:
What do you enjoy most about work?
Or, you could go the opposite route and ask in the negative:
What do you enjoy least about your work?
These are interesting and effective questions to get to know the person a little better as it relates to their work, their job performance, and their professional relationships.
Follow up questions are the humble and hard-working questions that you absolutely must use--I love them!
You will almost never simply accept an answer at face value. Also, some candidates will just not be as talkative, so they will need a bit of coaching to give you the right amount of detail to answer your questions.
Always be ready with questions like:
Why did you decide to do that?
What happened then?
What was the result?
What did your customer think of that? (or boss, or team, etc)
Just asking these questions with genuine curiosity (not in a judgmental way!) will get you more and better detail so you really have great information to make a hiring decision.
Be sure to get my free Guide to Interviewing Like a Boss, that has even more tips for interviewing. I’ve shared a handful of questions in this post, but my Guide will give you 40 great questions along with advice and tips for successful interviews.