Interviews are running neck and neck with performance reviews for the title of most uncomfortable ritual in the modern workplace.
Candidates are nervous, both sides are on their best behavior, and the vast majority of interviewers have never had any formal training. It’s our most relied upon tool for hiring, but all too often it plays out like a Dilbert cartoon.
So for any hiring manager looking for a shortcut to a better interview, we’ve gathered five of the very best interview questions to ask for any type of role.
1.Why are you interested in this job? What do you know about us?
This is a great starting point and an essential line of questioning for every interview. The best employees want to work for your organization for more reasons than the money. You should probe their motivation and be on the lookout for the drivers with the highest correlation with success and loyalty: meaning, learning, and challenge. The follow-on question is your chance to see how authentic their first answer was by checking to see how much research they’ve done to form their opinion.
2. What’s your greatest accomplishment?
Asking candidates what they feel is the greatest accomplishment in their career is a multi-part question that can both spot a high achiever and raise red flags. The key is to probe for details of that accomplishment – how they achieved it and what challenges they overcame to meet it. If this accomplishment aligns with your open role, you’ve likely found a winner.
3. What’s your plan for doing this job?
Nick Corcodilos, author of the popular Ask the Headhunter blog, says this question is his all-time personal favorite because it will help you “roll-up-your-sleeves” and determine whether the candidate can actually do the job well. To get the most out of it, he recommends that you prepare the candidate by giving them some additional background on the role and tell them what you’ll be asking. The extra work will help you screen further; as Corcodilos says: “Only those who really want the job will put in the effort to research.”
4. What are some things your current or past employer could do differently to be more successful?
The “current employer critique” is a tricky question. It opens up the discussion as to why they are leaving their current company and also allows the interviewer to see the motivation behind that move. Do they have sour grapes or constructive criticism? At what level are they thinking? Do they have good ideas? Did they try to improve the company and get rejected or are they abandoning ship before even trying?
5. Think of someone you have had problems with in your career (we all have had them). Tell me how they would describe you, why they felt this way, and what you did about it.
This is a more insightful way to probe into the standard ‘tell me your weaknesses’ line of inquiry. By asking them to describe themselves as an unhappy colleague would, and then asking what caused that perception, you’ll surface past issues, new references to investigate, or maybe even spot major red flags. It also will give you a view into their self-awareness, conflict resolution skills, and level of honesty, as few people can truthfully say no one has a bad word to say about them.
We hope these five questions will help raise the value and impact of your interviews. If you have any feedback, or more great ones to share, we’d love to hear from you.