My Favorite Interview Questions


As part of my various daily responsibilities, I am the company’s recruiter and interviewer. It’s my job to use all the questions at my disposal to determine whether the candidate is right for the job or not. In fact, I have two favorite questions that I never waiver from. I use them in order to see how the interviewee will react and what may make them great team members. We all know that a person’s skills and abilities, no matter how impressive they may be, are just part of what makes a person tick. When you hire someone, you’re not just acquiring whatever that person can bring to the table, you’re hiring a real person with strengths and weaknesses that will inevitably affect how they perform.

One of the questions I always ask is, “We’re all taught to tell employers why we’re right for a job, I want to know what job is right for you; what qualities and responsibilities are you looking for next?” However, I have found that asking this question once is often not enough, because some people haven’t thought about what they really want. They know why they’re looking for a new job, but they haven’t reflected on what they want next. During interviews, you might find out that what’s really important to a candidate is recognition, a chance to learn, or more paid time off, even though what they said in the first interview was that they wanted more responsibility and equitable compensation. Before I make a final offer I always follow up this first question by asking them, “What did you learn from the first interview?” and, “Based on what you know now, does this sound like the right job for you?” This allows me to continue to probe further. I once read that the only surprises you should have from new team members are good ones. 

My second favorite question is definitely a little different and can challenge ones interviewing skills. I attempt to gain valuable insight by asking the question “What do you do for fun outside of work?” I’m looking for candidates who engage in non-work related activities that are somehow aligned with what they do at work, because I’m a firm believer that they are more than likely really good at what they do if this is the case. I also believe in a firm work life balance and enjoying yourself. I see it every day on my team if they are happy in their personal lives, they are knocking it out of the park at work.  That’s the person I want having my back as I stand on the mound (Starting to bring back my old baseball memories.)

For example; a manager or supervisor who is highly active in their local community’s programs is more likely to be great at dealing with people. A salesperson who regularly competes in tennis tournaments is most likely not afraid of adverse competition, they’re not afraid of losing, and the passion for winning drives them.  Of course, just because a person has hobbies somewhat related to the job they’re applying for doesn’t automatically mean that they’re perfect for the job. However, it is an indicator of what the candidate can be capable of, both on a regular basis and beyond the call of duty.

Asking the candidate what they do for fun isn’t just for the company, it’s for the candidate as well. Getting a little personal is a good way to see whether or not the candidate fits your company’s culture. It helps you understand what motivates the candidate; will these motivations and non-work hobbies affect how the candidate views and executes their job?

I know what you’re thinking about this question, but I am always aware of the legalities possibly attached to any personal questions. Some Human Resource Professionals don’t suggest that you ask these types of questions, because anything personal revealed by the interviewee might open the door to legal action should you decide not to hire them. What if they think that you didn’t hire them because they had revealed that they were of a certain faith, transgendered, or involved with a particular political organization? Unfortunately, this is a very real risk that comes along with asking to peek into a candidate’s personal life.

A good guideline to follow of whether your questions are still appropriate is to never veer too far from the nature of the job being applied for. Instead of asking open-ended questions after the candidate’s initial answer, ask questions that reveal more about their personal skills and abilities. This is where your interviewing skills really come into play. If you’re not experienced with the interview process, I suggest that you stay away from anything personal.  Don’t get hit with a 90 mph fastball in the back (Trust me; I have literally been hit with one in my playing days and let me tell you, it hurts!)