What’s the best interview question you’ve asked?


Interview questions range from the sim­ple (“Tell me about yourself.”) to the silly (“If you were an animal, what kind would you be?”). Here are some sugges­tions of effective questions used by readers of The HR Specialist and featured in their September 2013 issue.

Fans and critics
“What would your biggest fan say about you? Likewise, who is your biggest critic and what would he/she say about you? — Steven

What makes you proud?
“It’s a cliché question, but I like to ask, ‘What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?’ Then you can follow up with more detailed questions about how they accomplished that. I look for folks who don’t set themselves up as the star (even if they are) and who give credit to the efforts of everyone on the team. I also look for evidence that they can accomplish goals—and care about doing so—through influence and not just hierar- chical power.” — Anonymous

smilecatAll smiles
“The best one I’ve ever heard is, ‘Do you smile often?’ The answer—and whether the person smiles while doing so—will tell you a lot about a person. Most friendly, easygoing people (the kind you want to work with) will unconsciously smile when answering.” — Celt

A ‘values check’
“I work for a nonprofit that works with low-income residents. One standard interview question is, ‘Why do you think people are poor?’ Even if this person is just going to be crunching numbers as an accountant, we still want to make sure they are in tune with the agency’s mission and values. The answers to an unexpected question can be very telling” – Kris

Modernize, criticize
“I find these two questions to be help- ful: ‘What, if any, processes did you improve?’ This can be very helpful if you seek continuous process improvement in your company. We are a small firm and are always happy to hear how we can do things better. Also, ‘Who was your least favorite (or most favorite) boss … and why?’ This can really bring out some interesting information.” — Liz

Useful criticism
“The one that I get the best feedback from is: ‘What is the most useful criticism you have ever received?’ It helps me see the growth in people if they answer honestly.” — Nicole

Your biggest bomb
“‘What is the biggest work disaster you’ve been a part of? What role did you play? What did you learn? Looking back on it, what would you do differently?’ If I can’t get a straight answer, I learn a lot. If I can get an honest answer, I learn even more.” — E.


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