ABC’s of Hiring #5: Interview Questions

Indications of a person’s character, drive and competence can be gleaned from listening carefully to how they answer questions. When you combine this information with your impression of their personality, ability to express themselves and social presentation, your odds for a successful hire will increase dramatically.

Here are all the right questions to ask:

Of the jobs you have held, which one did you like best?

If their preference is for a job in no way related to the one you have to offer, you may have a problem only a short time after hiring them.

How did you get each of your positions?

Shows resourcefulness, loyalty, “stick-to-it-iveness”, and perhaps, dissatisfaction with a given position. It will also show career direction.

What are your short-range goals for the coming two years?

A definite plan allows the interviewer to see if their goals coincide with the position. A person without a plan lacks maturity.

If you could do anything in the world, what would you choose to do? Or, what would you change in your current situation if you could?

See how what the person “really” wants to do and how it matches the job responsibilities you can offer them.

Why are you interested in our company? Or, why are you interested in leaving your present job?

This question is an attitude indicator. If they have researched your company, that is a sign of maturity. If the answer is “money,” watch out.

What are your hobbies? What do you do in your spare time?

Gives you a view of their outlook on life and their aptitudes. Competitive versus individual sports, family oriented interests, etc. all tell you a lot about the person.

What are your long range goals? Where do you want to be in ten years?

This answer can give you insight into the potential to be tapped, career consistency and potential frustration with lesser roles.

What are your major assets and major weaknesses?

One who can identify and correct their behavior has shown insight and thought in self-improvement. Well thought out assets indicate a person’s self-confidence and can help you assess whether their strengths can be fully utilized in the position you are offering. 

How have you changed over the last five years?

Shows a person’s progress, both in their career and in their personal life. To see if their own assessment matches what you can offer them, follow-up with, “How would you like to change in the next five years?”

Why do you feel you are qualified for this position? Or, what makes you the best candidate?

Do they understand how their abilities, skills and experience match the needs of the position and what it will take to be successful?

What accomplishments have you been responsible for that impacted your employer’s bottom line?

Do they understand the P&L and what the cost drivers are that impact performance?

Is there anything that would prevent you from making a move at this time?

This provides insight into their personal situation, any potential family issues or reservations about making a change

How does your family feel about your leaving your current employer?

Particularly important and relevant when a relocation is required. Provides insight into family harmony or challenges with kids in high school or who have special needs.

What would your current employer do if you were to resign?

If the current employer makes you a counter-offer, what will you do? Provides insight into their motivation and level of commitment to making a move or any reluctance to making a move.

The interview is the most important component of the hiring process and you should be prepared and train your key people to make it as effective as possible.


Still can’t decide on the right person? Call me to help you recruit and hire the best people.


Bob Harrington Associates has been in the executive search business for 20 years and can help you find the best people for your business.

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