Ten Great Interview Questions

(1) “What DON’T you like to do and how do you get yourself to get it done?”

The easiest attributes to gauge in an interview are capability and skill, but they may not be the most important. Eighty-seven percent of employees fail not because of capabilities but because of attitude or personality.

(2) “Tell me about your very first job, and the three most important things you learned at that job”.

One’s first experience with work tends to shape an individual’s values and work ethic. You can build an entire interview off of this question.

(3) “What was the hardest job you ever had, and how long did you last at it?”

Good question to see if the candidate’s perception of hard work matches up with the new manager’s expectation.

(4) “Tell me about the boss (or for recent graduates, the best teacher) who got the most out of you, and how did he or she do it”.

The answer speaks volumes about a person’s work ethic and what motivates him or her.

(5) “Compare yourself with the best person you have ever worked with, ranking yourself on a scale of one to ten.”

(6) “What makes that person so good at their job and what makes you a (your score)?”

(7) “What would it take for you to improve your score?”

Asking this follow-up to Questions #6 and #7 increases the likelihood of you getting an honest answer about a candidate’s weaknesses.

(8) “Tell me about the worst trouble you’ve ever been in”.

(9) “Is that really the worst trouble you’ve ever been in?”

This follow-up to Question #8 encourages candidates to really open up, but only if the interviewer is careful to disguise any shock or disgust.

(10) "When was the last time you got a formal performance appraisal and what was the result?”

This provides a level of validation you can never get from checking a reference.


Don’t conduct interviews with the candidate’s resume in front of you. Working from the resume allows the candidate to control the interview since candidates never put anything on a resume they are trying to hide.

Start the interview process with a list of key competencies for the position, drawing a mental picture of what the ideal candidate would look like, then create interview questions that gauge the candidate’s strengths at the key competencies.

Change your mindset about hiring to recognize that everything you do in the hiring process is a test from asking candidates to complete a job application, to even setting the interview time. If hiring an employee who must be at work at 7:30am every morning, set the interview for that time as a test to see if the person is reliable and prompt, even at that hour. Inform candidates that they must fill out the entire application without leaving anything blank, or with the words “see Resume”. Candidates who ignore that request have demonstrated to the employer that they do not follow directions well.

Gather all information and ask all the questions from the candidate first, before explaining the job and the company, to prevent candidates from simply parroting the job qualifications they just heard.

Position the candidates to tell the truth by promising to be totally honest about the job requirements, in exchange for their complete truthfulness. Set the expectation for honesty.

In asking tough questions learn to hang in there and wait for the candidate to respond rather than rewording or helping the candidate. If anything is to be said, use “I understand it’s a very difficult question, so take as much time as you need.”

Investing the time up front to hire the right person is worth the effort. Think about the best employee you’re working with. How much time do you spend managing them?

Trust your gut instinct if the candidate does not seem right for the position. What you see in an interview is better than anything they will do in their entire life.