1. What was your major in college and why?
This is asked primarily to recent grads, but the thinking is that you’ll be able to see what someone’s true passion is. Just because someone majored in psychology doesn’t mean they are determined to be a psychologist. They could be passionate about child development or communication. You won’t know, until you dig a bit further, what really drives a candidate. When dealing with a more tenured candidate, this question still comes in handy and will show you how the candidate’s passions changed over time.
2. Tell me about a time when you diffused a difficult situation at work.
Sometimes the insight isn’t just in the answer. The way in which the answer is delivered can be just as telling. Will you get flustered and be totally vague? Will you handle it with grace, sharing just enough information or will you start giving all the dirty details and lose yourself in your own emotion about the situation?
3. What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?
The interviewer should be interested in the person you are outside of work. A candidate is not only interviewing for a skills match, but for a culture fit too. When candidates talk about things they enjoy, they tend to be more relaxed and show off their personality.
4. What three traits would your previous employer/manager use to describe you?
People are more honest about this because they never know if that person might be called upon for a reference. As a result they are usually more thoughtful and accurate in their response than if they had been asked to describe themselves.
5. Why did you leave your previous positions?
Yes, almost every interviewer will specifically ask you why you left (or want to leave) your most recent job. But this question is asked in the plural form. Hearing the reasons behind each specific move will reveal patterns and also help the interviewer understand more specifically what the candidate is looking for in their next move.
6. How has your search been going?
Recruiters and interviewers love to know where else their candidates have been looking. It gives them a temperature read on what other roles you’re applying for and getting interviews for. It also gives them insight into the response your skill set is getting in the marketplace.
7. Tell me about a time when… or describe a project you completed where… you utilized (insert specific skill).
Each role you’re interviewing for has specific skills that are essential to being successful in that role. The closest way to test those skills, is to hear how the candidate has put them to use in the past. This can be accomplished with almost any skill, from the very technical like Excel to things that are harder to quantify like motivating a team.
8. Name three dream brands you’d like to work for and why?
While this is a question most often asked to fashion candidates, many interviewers will ask you about companies whose work you admire. If you’re a creative, you may be asked which companies in the marketplace are getting their branding right. Adversely, name three brands you’d like to completely revamp.
9. What things are you looking to do more of in your next job and what are you looking to do less of?
Candidates generally talk about what they want. That’s usually their main focus. But sometimes, knowing what they don’t want is just as important!
10. What are your top three motivators for your next move?
Work is a complex construct and we all have various motivators for change. They include, but are not at all limited to…making more money, being more creative, being more strategic, finding better work life balance or having an easier commute. Satisfying just one motivator usually isn’t enough to make someone happy in their next move. But satisfying two or even three if you’re lucky, ensures you’re making the best match for the candidate.