Beyond the bland: 11 questions to identify ‘must hires’

The interview remains a hiring manager’s most effective tool for evaluating job candidates.  Unfortunately, managers too often rely on a list of standard interview questions for which most applicants have canned responses.

The message: Ask generic questions and you’ll get generic answers.  Instead, try these queries, each designed to get applicants to really tell you about themselves and their skills.

Career initiative

  • “Walk me through your progression with your current employer, leading me up to what you now do daily.”
  • “Why would this be a good move in progression for you from a career development standpoint?” (i.e., “What are you adding to your résumé?”)

Technical skills

  • “On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being a perfect match for this job), how would you grade yourself from a technical standpoint? What would make you a 10?” (This second question identifies the gap in their current skills.)
  • “Where would you need the most support, structure or direction in your first 90 to 180 days?” (Ask this instead of the standard “What’s your greatest weakness?” question.)


  • “What makes you stand out as a rarity among your peers?” (This tells you how much self-confidence they have.)
  • “What have you done in your present/last position to increase your organization’s top-line revenues, to reduce expenses or to save time?”
  • “Why is your current organization a better place for you having worked there?”
  • “Tell me about your reputation at work: What are you known for?”

Pressure-cooker questions

  • “Tell me about your last performance appraisal: In which area were you most disappointed?”
  • “From an interpersonal standpoint, where do you disagree with your boss most often? What kind of constructive feedback would you give him if he were here right now?”
  • “What do you know about our organization?”


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