Want more great interview questions?
What is an area in which you excel? Assume I know nothing about it and explain it to me.
This tests the candidate’s ability to explain a potentially complex topic. For many people, it is difficult to “un-know” something in which they excel. The ability to break a topic down and explain its most essential components tells you a lot about a candidate’s effectiveness as a communicator.
In what kind of work environment are you most effective?
Everyone has a particular working style. If the candidate’s working preferences match your organization’s environment fairly well, there may be a good fit. If not, there may be, at best, a rough ramp-up time. Or, at worst, barriers to this candidate’s success in your organization.
What are you deeply passionate about? It does not have to be work-related.
This question seeks to understand the candidate’s core motivations in life. If those motivations run parallel (or close to parallel) to your organization’s goals, there is a good chance this person will put his/her heart & soul into the work. For startups, this is very important.
What was the last product or technology that got you really excited? Why?
Somewhat similar to understanding the candidate’s motivations is to have the candidate explain a concrete entity (product or technology) and the reasons for his/her excitement. Where the previous question examines global motivations, this question focuses on a specific motivation. Plus, it gives you another motivation datapoint and tells you how up-to-date the candidate is on current news.
I want to solve problem X. What would you propose?
Be creative with the problem statement. It can be something entirely made up, or something your organization or industry is actually facing. The solution(s) the candidate proposes are a test of his/her on-the-spot creativity and thinking, though the real value here is the follow-up questions. Probe into the candidate’s solution. Question it. Ask how it would be designed, built, marketed, measured, etc. Offer constraints that could change his/her solution. This is a good way to see how the candidate solves product problems.
These questions can work for most roles. Or you can tweak them a bit to fit your particular needs.
Comic from: Dilbert