Revealing Interview Questions

Interviewers ask questions to reveal those necessary details about a candidate that drive a hiring decision. This article provides seven questions that will reveal the hard-to-find information about a candidate’s soft skills, which is vital in hiring. These questions don’t stand alone, though. Each of them needs follow-up questions such as: “Why do you say that?”, “Help me understand what you mean?”, or “Tell me more about that?’. The reason these questions are powerful is that there is no “right” answer and really no way to prepare for them. In your next interview, ask one or all of these, and see what is revealed to you.

  1. If you were interviewing for my job, what would you be planning to implement right away? This question is more revealing than you probably think. When listening to the answer, you will find out if this person is a cultural fit for the company. You’ll learn if they will be able to buy-in to the direction of the company or team. Also, you might be surprised on how much information you gain that you can actually implement as you develop future strategies. This person might go from a candidate you’re considering hiring to an employee you begin grooming for a bigger role in the company.
  2. Based on all the managers you’ve had, what advice would you give me about management? Try this on your kids first, and ask about teachers instead of managers. The first thing they will tell you is what a teacher should not do…like assign homework. The same is true with a candidate, where their first thought is generally what not to do, and this will quickly reveal whether they would thrive in your company culture. Who knows, you might pick up a tip about management too. Most importantly, you’ll have revealed in a snapshot the type of manager the candidate does and doesn’t like. With that information, you can assess how well they would fit within the organization and your management style.
  3. What things do you accomplish in the morning before work? Okay, this question is not about personal hygiene, so we are not looking for what they do to get ready for work. This questions is about what a person does to get ready to be great at work. The reason I like this question is that it reveals what a person does to set up success. You might learn that the person reads the Bible every day. Maybe the person is a disciplined runner or works out every morning. Perhaps you’ll find out that the person reads industry news or current events. What if you find out they wake up 30 minutes before work? Regardless of the response, you’ve now been revealed their personal priorities.
  4. If you had an unexpected one-hour lay-over and all you had with you was your phone, how would you use your phone to occupy your time? What a person does with unexpected extra time is crucial to evaluating them as an employee, especially if they are given a great deal of autonomy. When you throw in the phone component, what you really need to learn about them is revealed. Are they going to answer emails, read an on-line book, call a customer, peruse social media, or play a game? Maybe they won’t use the phone at all. Perhaps they will put the phone in their pocket and strike up a conversation with a stranger. Regardless, this scenario truly reveals much about their personality style and work ethic.
  5. If today was a free day without any work or family responsibilities what would you do? This is similar to Question 4, but it removes the element of responsibility. Knowing what a person would do with a completely free day is revealing in many ways. Maybe they would spend it alone. Maybe they would read inside or do outdoor recreation. Maybe they’ll sleep or watch a movie. Perhaps the person would chose to be with their family even with responsibility taken away. This question will help you learn about what is truly important and what motivates them. This is not likely to help you make a hiring decision, but if you do chose to hire them, it will help you better manage them.
  6. When you resign from your current position, what is going to be the hardest for them to replace? This is a better question than asking about a person’s strengths because it infuses a real context. You’ll find out about what they do best. You’ll also get a glimpse of their emotional intelligence. The logical follow-up question to this is to ask, “How do you think your employer will react to you resigning?” This will reveal the relationship the person has with their manager, which will likely be the relationship you’ll have with the candidate down the road. Also, you will get further insight to why they are looking for a new position and whether they would consider a counter-offer. All of this is great information to have revealed before offer time.
  7. What is something interesting that you have recently learned? When I ask this question, I am looking for them to light up. I want to see what impassions them. The logical follow up question is to have them teach it to you. By doing so, you can see how well organized their thoughts are, how well they can covey potentially complex ideas, and how well they truly understood the new information. The ability to learn and teach others is invaluable in any market. Having revealed to you whether the candidate you’re interviewing can learn new things thoroughly is vital.
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