Friday, February 18, 2011

Interview Questions

I was in Boston yesterday and was asked for the best questions to ask in an interview. The following list largely comes from Double Double - the book I recently reviewed. Clearly the questions used varies from interview to interview and is based on the person and position.

I welcome feedback with other questions:

Problem Solving and Ability to Deal with Adversity

- What are your personal goals, and have you achieved them? If not, why?
- Who was the most difficult person you've dealt with? How did you respond?
- Describe a frustrating experience from work. How did you deal with it?
- What are some of the greatest personal challenges you have faced?
- How do you handle rejection?
- What aspects of your past jobs were most frustrating?
- What life experiences have given you the greatest reward?
- Can you tell me about the toughest job you've ever had?
- What was the most difficult aspect of obtaining a college degree?

Career Goals and Objectives

- What are you career interests?
- What are your standards of success/goals for a job?
- What are your goals and aspirations for the next three years?
- What are your long-range goals and how are you preparing to achieve them?
- If you could create the perfect job for yourself, what would you do?
- Can you tell me about your plans for the future?
- What work would you like to do that really interests you?
- What is your timetable for achievement of your current career goals?

Relevant Experience

- What skills do you possess that will help make you successful in this job?
- Why should we hire you?
- Have you ever worked in a similar position with another organization, and what did you enjoy most and least about it?
- Can you discuss some of your past jobs and what you accomplished in them?
- What prior work experiences have you had?
- What were your accomplishments in these prior work experiences?
- Please tell me about the duties and requirements of your last job.
- Elaborate on one of the work experiences listed on your resume.
- What did you enjoy most about your previous job experiences?
- What did you enjoy least?
- In addition to your educational and professional experiences, what else would you like us to know about you in order to make an appropriate decision?
- What skills will you bring to the job that will enhance our team or company?


- What are your major strengths and weaknesses?
- What did you see as your major strengths and weaknesses on this job?
- What would your last two employers say about you, good and bad?
- How would you describe your supervisor/leadership style?
- Who or what had the greatest influence on your life?
- Can you describe the difference between motivation and inspiration, and how these apply to you in the work environment?

Initiative and Follow-through

- What are your greatest achievements at this point in your life?
- Tell me about your accomplishments during college that make you proudest.
- If friends and colleagues were to describe you to a stranger, what would they say?
- What do you consider most important when evaluating yourself?
- What were your most significant achievements during this job?


- How would you describe your style of communication?
- Tell me about a time you had to sell an idea to someone else.
- What do you enjoy doing most?
- Tell me about a time you had to present information to a large group of people. How did you feel and how successful were you?

Working Effectively with Others

- How well do you work with others?
- What are some of the pros and cons of working on a team project?
- When have you led a team to achieve a specific goal, what were the results?
- What have you admired in people who have previously supervised your work? What haven't you admired in these individuals?
- How would you resolve conflict in a group situation?

Creativity and Innovation

- What changes would you make in your school's academic program?
- Tell me about a time you found a new and better way of doing something.
- What was the largest, most creative project you've been involved in to date?
- Tell me the most creative solution you have come up with to solve a problem.
- Tell me about a time when you had to bring out the creativity in others.

Decision Making

- Please tell me about a conflict and how you resolved it.
- Tell me about a time you had to make an important decision with limited facts.
- Tell me about a time you had to make an unpopular decision.
- Tell me about a bad decision you made and what you would have done differently in retrospect.

Delegation and Organization

- How do you organize your day?
- Tell me about a time you delegated a project effectively.
- Describe to me a time when a supervisor delegated a task to you when you had a full workload. How did you handle the situation?
- Describe what your closets and garage look like today.

Customer Service and Sales

- What personal qualities will you bring to this firm?
- Tell me about a time when you dealt with an irate customer.
- What does the term "the customer is always right" mean to you?
- What's the best example of awesome customer service you've provided?


- What starting salary do you expect as an employee?
- When comparing one company offer to another, what factors will be important to you besides starting salary?
- How would you describe yourself?
- Name three people who have inspired you and why.
- What do you know about our company?
- Why are you interviewing with us?
- Why do you want to work in the position you are seeking?
- What are your expectations of us?
- Why did you select us?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- Why were you laid off?
- Tell me about the best boss you've ever had.
- Tell me about the worst boss you've ever had.
- What can you offer me that another person can't?
- If you could choose to work anywhere, where would you go?


At 4:47 PM, Anonymous Kyle said...

Great post Jim. I find when I'm interviewing people I focus a lot on the behavioral questions. Here's a list of questions I like to ask when interviewing for a supervisory position (and reasoning below for asking them):

1.) In your present workplace, what gives you the greatest sense of satisfaction?
2.) Who makes the coffee for your office?
3.) Describe your leadership style in three words.
4.) Is there a politician that you admire? If so tell us why.
5.) Describe how you would handle a situation where you have delegated a task to your colleague but he has not completed the work as you had hoped?
6.) How do you handle criticism?
7.) Draw a diagram of your team and show where everyone fits in.
8.) What company best displays the kind of leadership that you aspire to?
9.) What is your personal mission statement?
10.) As a leader, how would you deal with an employee who is late on a regular basis?
11.) In what ways do you motivate your staff?
12.) How do you get to know your staff’s strengths and weaknesses?
13.) How do you address your weaknesses?
14.) What is the vision you have for your position in leadership as supervisor?

1 - Looking for values, passion
2 - Looking for leadership style of their own or knowing who serves in this way.
3 - Prioritizes their values in leadership
4 - See what style of leadership they admire
5 - Committed to empower others.
6 - Character open to grow, humility, teachability
7 - See how they view themselves as part of a team or hierarchy
8 - For insight into their values.
9 -Looking for their ideals in leadership
10 - Values, passions of life
11 - Looking for creativity, problem solving, preserving the dignity of the employee, raising up the other to be responsible
12 - Creative? Extrinsic or intrinsic value of people.
13 - Do they value others, believe in empowering and raising up leaders.
14 - Know limitations, willing to grow, open to admit being human.
Mission, overall goal

At 1:08 AM, Anonymous Cover letter format said...

That is a very comprehensive list of interview questions. Very handy for both the interviewers and job seekers.

At 5:08 AM, Anonymous Steve Aaron said...

Nice post & excellent insights but I was wondering the other day... How should one formulate interview questions when one is not having domain/functional knowledge in the area one is hiring for? In other words, can a CEO/Owner/President hire for jobs he has never done himself or does not know how to do? Infact, I read somewhere that you can hire/delegate only those tasks which you know yourself well... but then I wonder how the CEOs & Business Leaders of large companies hire VP Level Executives or Functional Heads since I am sure they won't have all the functional knowledge required to run all the different verticals of their business. What are your thoughts??


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