ABC’s of Hiring #37 Tiebreaker Interview Questions – Fast and Focused

You have completed the initial phone screens and face-to-face interviews and have several qualified candidates with the right skills and experience. Use this list of ten questions to gain a clear picture of which candidate is most suitable for the position.  Indications of a person’s character, drive and competence can be gleaned from listening carefully to their answers.  When you put this information together with impressions of their personality, ability to express themselves, and social presentation, your odds for a successful hire will increase dramatically. When you have multiple interviews to conduct, asking the same questions of each candidate provides consistency and efficiency in your process. You should be able to obtain sufficient information to make a decision with a follow-up 20 minute telephone interview.

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?

  • This shows resourcefulness, loyalty, insightfulness and perhaps, dissatisfaction with a given position. It will also show career direction and ambition.

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 your perfect job be?

  • See how what the person “really” wants to do is aligned with the job responsibilities you can offer them.

Why are you interested in our company or this position?

  • This question is an attitude indicator. If they have researched your company, that is a sign of maturity.

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

  • This 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 provides insight into the potential to be tapped, career consistency and potential frustration with lesser roles.

What are your major strengths and weaknesses? 

  • One who can identify and correct their behavior has shown insight and thought in self-improvement. Well thought out strengths 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?

  • This 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 are you interested in leaving your present job?

  • If the answer is “money,” watch out. This reflects their motivation and values which can be compared to the position you are interviewing for.


Beyond technical competency and previous related experience, the ultimate decision making factor is the “chemistry” between the employee and the manager.  This series of questions enables you to understand the candidate’s value system, beliefs and motivation. You then are in a position to make your selection based on the best potential “fit” for your organization.


Bob Harrington Associates has been in the executive search business since 1994 and can help you find the best people for your organization.


Best Regards,


Bob Harrington CPC
Bob Harrington Associates


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