Indiana University

OVPIT/UITS 
Human Resources

Note: The following questions were extracted from Paul Falcone's book:

96 GREAT INTERVIEW QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE YOU HIRE

  1. Tell me about your greatest strength. What's the greatest asset you'll bring to our company?
  2. What's your greatest weakness?
  3. What was your favorite position, and what role did your boss play in making it so unique?
  4. What was your least favorite position? What role did your boss play in your career at that point?
  5. Where do you see yourself in five years?

    ACHIEVEMENT-ANCHORED QUESTIONS: MEASURING INDIVIDUALS' AWARENESS OF THEIR ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  6. What makes you stand out among your peers?
  7. What have you done on your present/last position to increase your organization's top-line revenues?
  8. What have you done to reduce your department's operational costs or to save time?
  9. What has been your most creative achievement at work?
  10. What would your current supervisors say makes you most valuable to them?

    HOLISTIC INTERVIEW QUERIES: CHALLENGING CANDIDATES TO ASSESS THEMSELVES

  11. What are the broad responsibilities of a [job title]?
  12. What aspects of your job do you consider most crucial?
  13. How many hours a week do you find it necessary to work in order to get your job done?
  14. How does your position relate to the overall goals of your department or company?
  15. What area of your skills do you need to improve upon in the next year?

    QUESTIONS ABOUT CAREER STABILITY

  16. How many employees were laid off simultaneously?
  17. How many people survived the cut?
  18. How many waves of layoffs did you survive before you were let go yourself?
  19. What does growth mean to you?
  20. What will you do differently at your present company if you don't get this position?

    SEARCHING FOR PATTERNS OF PROGRESSION THROUGH THE RANKS

  21. Describe how you've progressed through the ranks and landed in your current position at ABC Company?
  22. How have you added value to your job over time?
  23. 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?
  24. Distinguish between your vertical progression through the ranks at your last/present company and your lateral assumption of broader responsibilities.
  25. What would be your next logical move in progression at your present company?

    LIKABILITY EQUALS COMPATIBILITY: MATCHING CANDIDATES' PERSONALITIES TO YOUR ORGANIZATION'S CORPORATE CULTURE

  26. 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?
  27. 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 inconsistencies?
  28. How would you describe the amount of structure direction, and feedback that you need to excel?
  29. In terms of managing your staff, do you "expect" more than you "inspect," or vice versa?
  30. How do you approach your work from the standpoint of balancing your career with you personal life?
  31. 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

  32. Why did you choose your [college/major]?
  33. How does your degree prepare you (a) for a career in [industry] or (b) to excel as a [job title]?
  34. What qualifications do you have beyond academics that qualify you to make a successful transition into business?
  35. Do you think your grades are a good indicator of your ability to succeed in business?
  36. What other types of positions and companies are you considering right now?

    PROFILING SECRETARIES AND ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT STAFF: THE PEOPLE WHO REALLY MAKE YOUR ORGANIZATION WORK!

  37. 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?
  38. Do you consider your technical abilities basic, intermediate, or advanced? What types of projects did you complete with each software program?
  39. In what areas do you typically have the least amount of patience at work?
  40. How would you grade your ability to communicate with upper-level management, customers, and peers?
  41. What pace do you typically work at?

    THE SALES INTERVIEW: DIFFERENTIATING AMONG TOP PRODUCERS, REBLE PRODUCERS, AND THOSE WHO STRUGGLE TO THE MINIMUMS

  42. How do you competitively rank among other account executives in terms of your production?
  43. What are the two most common objections you face, and how do you deal with them?
  44. 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.
  45. How do you define your closing style?
  46. All salespeople need to find equilibrium between (a) high-volume production numbers and (b) quality. Which philosophy drives your sales style more?
  47. 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?
  48. 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?
  49. 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?
  50. Tell me about your quality ratios: How many prospects do you typically see before closing a sale?
  51. How much does production vary from desk to desk in your office?

    SENIOR MANAGEMENT EVALUATIONS: LEADERS, MENTORS, AND EFFECTIVE DECISION MAKERS

  52. Give me an example of your ability to facilitate progressive change within your organization.
  53. 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?
  54. 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 decision-making process?
  55. How do you typically stay in the information loop and monitor your staff's performance?
  56. How do you typically confront subordinates when results are unacceptable?

    PRESSURE COOKER INTERVIEW QUESTIONS: ASSESSING GRACE UNDER FIRE

  57. Tell me about your last performance appraisal. In which area were you most disappointed?
  58. In hindsight, how could you have improved your performance at your last position?
  59. Where do you disagree with your boss most often? How did you handle the last time s/he was wrong and you were right?
  60. 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

  61. Why do you want to work here?
  62. What do you know about our company?
  63. Tell me about your understanding of the job you're applying for.
  64. 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

  65. How structured an environment would you say this individual needs to reach his/her maximum potential?
  66. Does this individual typically adhere strictly to job duties, or does s/he assume responsibilities beyond the basic, written job description?
  67. Please comment on this person's ability to accept constructive criticism.
  68. How much do outside influences play a role in his/her job performance?
  69. Would you consider this individual more of a task-oriented or project-oriented worker?
  70. How does s/he handle interruptions, breaks in routine, and last-minute changes?
  71. How would you grade her commitment to project completion?

    REFERENCE-CHECKING SCENARIOS: PROFESSIONAL/TECHNICAL CANDIDATES

  72. How would you grade this candidate's capacity for analytical thinking and problem solving?
  73. Does this individual need close supervision to excel, or does s/he take more of an autonomous, independent approach to his/her work?
  74. 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?
  75. How would you grade this candidate's listening skills?
  76. How effective is the candidate at delivering bad news? Will he typically assume responsibility for things gone wrong?
  77. Please grade the individual's capacity for initiative and taking action. Does s/he have a tendency to get bogged down in "analysis paralysis"?

    REFERENCE-CHECKING SCENARIOS: SENIOR MANAGEMENT CANDIDATES

  78. Is this candidate's management style more autocratic and paternalistic or is it geared toward a more participative and consensus-building approach?
  79. In terms of this individual's energy level, how would you grade his/her capacity for hustle?
  80. How does this individual approach taking action without getting prior approval?
  81. 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 authority?
  82. After so many years in the business, is this candidate still on a career track for which s/he can sustain enthusiasm?
  83. How effective is this person at orchestrating a corporate ensemble of functional areas?
  84. Please address the candidate's ability to cope with the significant pressures associated with senior management.
  85. Does this person ever delay the inevitable in terms of disciplining or dismissing employees?
  86. 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 with adversity?
  87. 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

  88. 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.
  89. 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?
  90. What would have to change at your present position for you to continue working there?
  91. 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

  92. What's changed since that last time we spoke?
  93. 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?
  94. 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?
  95. Share with me what final questions I can answer for you to help you come to an informed career decision.
  96. At what dollar level would you accept our job offer, and at what dollar level would you reject it?