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Shake Up Your Interviews with 10 Questions to get Insightful & Useful Responses from Candidates

Posted by Afton Funk

Mar 11, 2012 9:56:00 AM

Most job candidates will have heard the same types of interview questions reworded a thousand times by the time they interview with your company.  With candidates ready for every question you have, it can be hard to garner sincere responses in an interview.  But without those sincere responses, how will you ever know if a candidate is a good fit for your company?  The answer is you probably won’t!  Below are some questions that can help to get past the pre-packaged answers and see the person behind the resume:

1. What were you concerned I might ask that I haven’t?

  • Gauge the candidate’s immediate response to this question to see if he/she is actually being honest.  Everyone has things they don’t want to talk about!

2. If I were to ask your close colleagues about things I should look out for about you, what would they say?

  • Use this to measure a candidate’s ability to both empathize and be introspective – Look out though, you may have to ask a few times in different ways to get down to the real response.

3. What will your current colleagues/boss/clients/subordinates miss the most about you if you leave your position?

  • Here we are looking for insight into how a candidate operates in a team environment.

4. If you had to hire someone to replace you at your current position, what traits would you look for and why?

  • This is a great question to get another view into what the candidate actually does in their current role – Often you will get a different response when you approach it from this angle!  It will also help to illuminate traits that the candidate values in the workplace.

5. How soon after you started your last position did you consider yourself a productive employee and why?

  • Forcing the candidate to self-reflect on their initial development in their previous role will give you a sense of how they might approach the new role.  While this may be a hard question for candidates to completely BS, watch out for complainers who shift blame and identify problems at their previous company without taking responsibility for their own development.

6. In an office, no one is irreplaceable.  What kinds of things do you do in your current position to make yourself as indispensable as possible?

  • You’re looking for A-players (aren’t we all…), someone who strives to go above and beyond the job description.  Generic answers to this question may be a good indicator of someone who does not see the bigger picture outside of their own job description.

7. What motivates you on a day to day basis at work?

  • You’ll be looking for a “real” answer here, not a rehearsed, empty response.  Though it seems to be very basic, this will apply to many situations and usually results in responses that are very easy to distinguish as “real” or not.

8. Who would you NOT want me to call for a reference and why?

  • Another great way to give the candidate a chance to display honesty and willingness to admit past mistakes.  If you’re lucky, you may ever hear a story that tells you whether the candidate can handle workplace conflict in a professional manner – sit back and enjoy the drama!

9. What is the best piece of constructive criticism that you have ever received?

  • Is the candidate able to receive, digest and incorporate feedback into their personal development?  This looks not only at introspective abilities again, but will also give insight into how the candidate relates to managers.

10. If you were to receive this position, what steps would you take in the first couple of months to get up to speed?

  • The most important thing to get out of the response is whether or not the candidate fully understands the requirements of the position, and if they have the forward-thinking and planning skills necessary to project how the first few months will look.


Remember, with any interview process for a specific job, it’s critical to ask the same questions of all your candidates – being able to compare responses to these questions (and any others) will help your team to choose the best candidate!

Topics: Recruiting & Hiring