5 Highly Effective Interview Questions You Should Ask

With my experience as a business owner, corporate executive, and as a consultant, I have gained a lot of good resources over the years when it comes to interviewing candidates. When I have the opportunity to interview candidates for various positions, including independent contractors as well as employees, I always need to prepare some good interview questions to ask.

I'm about finding out whether or not someone is a good fit for our organization. With that in mind, I want to ask interview questions that allow candidates to present themselves in an accurate, revealing way. What I don't want to do is to create an intimidating, awkward, or disrespectful situation. These questions accomplish both goals: to give candidates a great opportunity to talk about themselves in a comfortable environment.

With all of this in mind, here are 5 highly effective interview questions you should ask your candidates:

Tell me everything you know about our organization.

Leading off with this question says a lot about the candidate. The Internet provides a lot of information, and virtually everyone has access to it. What I want to know is if someone has taken the initiative to find out more about what we do and who we are. If the candidate does the right kind of research, he or she is going to figure out if our organization is a good fit – and why it would be a good fit.

How do you think you can be a part of our organization, as it relates to our mission and vision statements?

I want to know if the candidate feels like he or she aligns with our mission and vision. If they've done their homework, they've already reviewed the mission and vision statements.  This should be an easy question to answer. However, if the candidate hasn't reviewed them before the interview, we still provide them the mission and vision statements to help them respond to the question.

Tell me your greatest success and your worst failure in your last big project.

We're looking for an opportunity for the candidate to share what they do well.  We're also looking for an opportunity to find out what they don't do well. More importantly, we want to find out how they were able to solve a problem and to be successful at it. Lastly, we want to know if the candidate needs supervision, or if the candidate does a good job of self-management without constant supervision.

Tell me about a crisis in your life, either personally or professionally. How did you handle it?

Everyone has faced a difficult situation at some times in their lives. What I want to know is how this person handles pressure-filled situations. Is the candidate going to be argumentative and uncooperative? Or will they choose a passive approach? Is the candidate willing to jump in and do their best work in spite of everything going wrong? Or is this person going to make excuses and get easily distracted with the negative circumstances?

Why do you want this job?

This question has to be one of the easiest questions to understand. For the candidate who has carefully considered information about the job, it should be a fairly easy question to answer. For the candidate who chooses to avoid the preparation for the interview, this question will be really hard to answer. I like to pose this question at the end of the interview.  The reason is because many candidates prepare for it in the beginning.  We don't want the “perfect” answer that was already practiced. We want the answer that comes from the dialogue we've had during this interview.  The end of the interview is the best time for that.

There are a lot of other great interview questions. These are some of my favorites, regardless of the job opportunity. What are yours? Post a comment and share them with us!

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