Note: The following questions were extracted from Paul Falcone's
96 GREAT INTERVIEW QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE YOU
- Tell me about your greatest strength. What's the greatest asset
you'll bring to our company?
- What's your greatest weakness?
- What was your favorite position, and what role did your boss play in
making it so unique?
- What was your least favorite position? What role did your boss play
in your career at that point?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
ACHIEVEMENT-ANCHORED QUESTIONS: MEASURING INDIVIDUALS' AWARENESS OF THEIR
- What makes you stand out among your peers?
- What have you done on your present/last position to increase your
organization's top-line revenues?
- What have you done to reduce your department's operational costs or to
- What has been your most creative achievement at work?
- What would your current supervisors say makes you most valuable to
HOLISTIC INTERVIEW QUERIES: CHALLENGING CANDIDATES TO ASSESS
- What are the broad responsibilities of a [job title]?
- What aspects of your job do you consider most crucial?
- How many hours a week do you find it necessary to work in order to
get your job done?
- How does your position relate to the overall goals of your department
- What area of your skills do you need to improve upon in the next year?
QUESTIONS ABOUT CAREER STABILITY
- How many employees were laid off simultaneously?
- How many people survived the cut?
- How many waves of layoffs did you survive before you were let go
- What does growth mean to you?
- What will you do differently at your present company if you don't get
SEARCHING FOR PATTERNS OF PROGRESSION THROUGH THE RANKS
- Describe how you've progressed through the ranks and landed in your
current position at ABC Company?
- How have you added value to your job over time?
- How have you had to reinvent or redefine your job to meet your
company's changing needs? What proactive steps did you have to take to
increase the out-put of your position?
- Distinguish between your vertical progression through the ranks at
your last/present company and your lateral assumption of broader
- What would be your next logical move in progression at your present
LIKABILITY EQUALS COMPATIBILITY: MATCHING CANDIDATES' PERSONALITIES TO
YOUR ORGANIZATION'S CORPORATE CULTURE
- What kind of mentoring and training style do you have? Do you
naturally delegate responsibilities, or do you expect your direct reports
to come to you for added responsibilities?
- Every company has its own quirks-its "dysfunctionality quotient," so
to speak. How dysfunctional was your last company, and how much
tolerance do you have for dealing with a company's shortcomings and
- How would you describe the amount of structure direction, and
feedback that you need to excel?
- In terms of managing your staff, do you "expect" more than you
"inspect," or vice versa?
- How do you approach your work from the standpoint of balancing your
career with you personal life?
- Paint a picture of the corporate culture you'll create if we hire
you. Do you operate under a more centralized and paternalistic agenda
with power centralized in the hands of a few, or do you constantly push
responsibility and accountability down the line?
THE COLLEGE CAMPUS RECRUIT
- Why did you choose your [college/major]?
- How does your degree prepare you (a) for a career in [industry] or
(b) to excel as a [job title]?
- What qualifications do you have beyond academics that qualify you to
make a successful transition into business?
- Do you think your grades are a good indicator of your ability to
succeed in business?
- What other types of positions and companies are you considering right
PROFILING SECRETARIES AND ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT STAFF: THE PEOPLE WHO
REALLY MAKE YOUR ORGANIZATION WORK!
- How would you grade your ability to predict needs before they arise?
In other words, how would you evaluate your intuition, timeliness, and
proactive business style?
- Do you consider your technical abilities basic, intermediate, or
advanced? What types of projects did you complete with each software
- In what areas do you typically have the least amount of patience at
- How would you grade your ability to communicate with upper-level
management, customers, and peers?
- What pace do you typically work at?
THE SALES INTERVIEW: DIFFERENTIATING AMONG TOP PRODUCERS, REBLE
PRODUCERS, AND THOSE WHO STRUGGLE TO THE MINIMUMS
- How do you competitively rank among other account executives in terms
of your production?
- What are the two most common objections you face, and how do you deal
- Role-play with me, if you will, presenting yourself to me over the
phone as if you were a headhunter. Convince me that this "product"
you're selling is worth my time.
- How do you define your closing style?
- All salespeople need to find equilibrium between (a) high-volume
production numbers and (b) quality. Which philosophy drives your sales
- Tell me about the last time you failed to meet quota. How many times
did that happen over the past year, and what plan of action did you take
to get back on track?
- With no undue flattery, if you will, grade me on how well I'm
conducting this interview: What can you tell me about my sales and
management style on this basis of the questions I'm asking you?
- How important is the base salary component to you? Would you prefer
a straight commission if it offered you the potential for an additional
35 percent in aggregate earnings over the base salary?
- Tell me about your quality ratios: How many prospects do you
typically see before closing a sale?
- How much does production vary from desk to desk in your office?
SENIOR MANAGEMENT EVALUATIONS: LEADERS, MENTORS, AND EFFECTIVE DECISION
- Give me an example of your ability to facilitate progressive change
within your organization.
- Tell me about the last time you inherited a problem unit-one
suffering from poor productivity or low morale. What was the scope of
the project, and how were your direct reports affected?
- Did you create a culture of open information sharing and increased
accountability by giving responsibility to your subordinates, or did you
focus more on establishing their parameters and controlling the
- How do you typically stay in the information loop and monitor your
- How do you typically confront subordinates when results are
PRESSURE COOKER INTERVIEW QUESTIONS: ASSESSING GRACE UNDER FIRE
- Tell me about your last performance appraisal. In which area were
you most disappointed?
- In hindsight, how could you have improved your performance at your
- Where do you disagree with your boss most often? How did you handle
the last time s/he was wrong and you were right?
- How would your supervisor grade your ability to cope with last-minute
change without breaking stride?
GENERIC INTERVIEW QUESTIONS KNOWN TO CHALLENGE CANDIDATES IN THE FINAL
ROUNDS OF HIRE
- Why do you want to work here?
- What do you know about our company?
- Tell me about your understanding of the job you're applying for.
- What can you do for us if we hire you, and when should we expect to
see concrete results?
SELECTING CANDIDATES AND MAKING THE OFFER
REFERENCE-CHECKING SCENARIOS: ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT STAFF
- How structured an environment would you say this individual needs to
reach his/her maximum potential?
- Does this individual typically adhere strictly to job duties, or does
s/he assume responsibilities beyond the basic, written job description?
- Please comment on this person's ability to accept constructive
- How much do outside influences play a role in his/her job performance?
- Would you consider this individual more of a task-oriented or
- How does s/he handle interruptions, breaks in routine, and
- How would you grade her commitment to project completion?
REFERENCE-CHECKING SCENARIOS: PROFESSIONAL/TECHNICAL CANDIDATES
- How would you grade this candidate's capacity for analytical thinking
and problem solving?
- Does this individual need close supervision to excel, or does s/he
take more of an autonomous, independent approach to his/her work?
- How global a perspective does s/he have? Do you see him/her
eventually making the transition from a tactical and operational career
path to the strategic level and operational career path to the strategic
level necessary for a career in senior management?
- How would you grade this candidate's listening skills?
- How effective is the candidate at delivering bad news? Will he
typically assume responsibility for things gone wrong?
- Please grade the individual's capacity for initiative and taking
action. Does s/he have a tendency to get bogged down in "analysis
REFERENCE-CHECKING SCENARIOS: SENIOR MANAGEMENT CANDIDATES
- Is this candidate's management style more autocratic and
paternalistic or is it geared toward a more participative and
- In terms of this individual's energy level, how would you grade
his/her capacity for hustle?
- How does this individual approach taking action without getting prior
- Is it this person's natural inclination to report to someone else for
sign-off, or does s/he operate better with independent responsibility and
- After so many years in the business, is this candidate still on a
career track for which s/he can sustain enthusiasm?
- How effective is this person at orchestrating a corporate ensemble of
- Please address the candidate's ability to cope with the significant
pressures associated with senior management.
- Does this person ever delay the inevitable in terms of disciplining
or dismissing employees?
- Is this individual inclined to maintain smooth and amicable relations
at all costs, or is s/he more likely to show his/her teeth when faced
- Does the candidate stay open to all sides of an argument before
reaching a decision, or does s/he get personally involved in conflicts?
PREEMPTING THE COUNTEROFFER: STEERING CANDIDATES CLEAR OF TEMPTATION
- Tell me again why you feel the position you're applying for meets
your career needs or why working for our company is so important to you.
- On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being you're really excited about accepting
our offer, 1 being there's no interest), where do you stand?
- What would have to change at your present position for you to
continue working there?
- Tell me about the counteroffer they'll make you once you give
notice. If you gave notice to your boss right now, what would s/he say
to keep you?
MAKING THE OFFER AND CLOSING THE DEAL: QUESTIONS TO ENSURE THAT
CANDIDATES ACCEPT YOUR JOB OFFERS
- What's changed since that last time we spoke?
- If you had to choose among three factors-(1) the company, (2) the
position you're applying for, or (3) the people you'd be working
with-which would you say plays the most significant role in your decision
to accept our offer?
- If we were to make you an offer, tell me ideally when you'd like to
start. How much notice would you need to give your present employer?
- Share with me what final questions I can answer for you to help you
come to an informed career decision.
- At what dollar level would you accept our job offer, and at what
dollar level would you reject it?