Ten Great Interview Questions

There is an art to interviewing employee candidates.

You have a limited amount of time to ask maximally effective questions. The right questions should give you an accurate-enough impression of the candidate and how he/she will perform at your company.

If you are of the Microsoft (MSFT) or Google (GOOG) mindset, then you probably favor puzzles and creative problem solving questions. Those are great and have their place.

Here are ten more great interview questions that seek to gain a better impression of the candidate.

  1. How do you personally define and measure success?This is a two-part question. The first part aims to discover the candidate’s motivations and aspirations. The second part judges the candidate’s ability to realistically determine if and when those goals are reached. Most people have some idea of success, but haven’t defined ways to measure it. If that’s the case for this candidate, being able to come up with an impromptu answer can demonstrate quick-thinking and analytical ability.
  2. What are you doing to improve yourself, physically, mentally, or spiritually?This question assesses the candidate’s desire and past actions toward self-improvement. A candidate who has actively sought self-improvement will be able to answer quickly. A candidate who has not may hesitate and try to make up something on the spot.
  3. What were your expectations when you began working in your last job?This question discerns whether or not the candidate had realistic expectations of their last role. If the candidate’s expectations did not match the previous position, you can delve deeper to find out why and what the candidate did to rectify the situation. The answer may demonstrate how the candidate solves role-oriented problems.
  4. In what kind of work environment do you do your best work?This question determines in which work environments the candidate will thrive. Hopefully your company’s environment matches the candidate’s preferences, otherwise there may be a mismatch. A preference doesn’t mean the candidate will necessarily perform poorly, but he/she may not operate at an optimal capacity.
  5. How do you alleviate stress?This question seeks out the candidate’s coping mechanisms for the inevitable stress and frustrations that come with any job. The answer should include realistic & positive activities or outlets.
  6. What tools or habits do you use to keep organized?This question looks at previous behavior as a determinant of future behavior, specifically, in the candidate’s organizational prowess. Everyone says they are organized, so hopefully the candidate can prove it by discussing specific tools and habits.
  7. When I call your previous employer and references, what are they likely to tell me?This question examines the accuracy of the candidate’s self-awareness. It can be surprising how many people choose references that may speak poorly of them, or perceive themselves differently than how others perceive them.
  8. If you were hired for this position, what would you do in your first week here?This question gives you an idea of how much a self-starter this candidate is, and whether or not this candidate understands the role well enough to get started quickly. Although this question is more suited for experienced candidates than recent college graduates, it can test the creativity of a recent graduate as well.
  9. How would you react if I told you your interview has been terrible so far?This is a bit of a trick question designed to see how a candidate will react on his/her feet when startled and disappointed. If the interview is indeed going well, you can follow up with some reassurances. If not, then, well…
  10. Ask a question that may trigger the candidate to say, “We can’t do that.”You will have to be a bit creative here with the question you select. The goal is to assess the candidate’s creative problem solving skills. A poor answer is how your particular request is not possible. A good answer is, “Here’s what we can do instead.” The candidate should offer viable alternatives and be able to discuss trade-offs.

Some of these questions come from Becky Regan, an HR consultant mentioned in the Entrepreneur magazine article 6 Weeks to a Better Bottom Line and Nick’s Pizza & Pub from the Inc. Magazine article Lessons From a Blue-Collar Millionaire.

Do you have any other great interview questions?

Comic from: Dilbert

Author: Mike Lee

An idealistic realist, humanistic technologist & constant student.

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