The 16 Best and Most
Interview Questions Ever
By Bob Norton
These questions are in no particular order, as they should be
customized to the particular position and person. You want to mix up
the tougher ones with more social, calming questions so people do not
feel they are getting the first degree.
Always do your questions first and
theirs second, by saying up front you have some questions first and
then will answer any questions they have later. This way they cannot
“sell” specifically to your needs. You are in charge and should
control the first interview completely. Only after they have proven
that they are a viable candidate should you start revealing
potentially sensitive company information. If this person is not a
good candidate you can terminate the interview early and save everyone
time. Real candidates will need and deserve this sensitive
information, but you would not want this to be generally available.
Good candidates will often try to control the flow of the interview
and learn more early. You need to gently prod them to your questions
first, so they cannot answer every question specifically for your
need, but must answer for them honestly.
What are the biggest strengths you will bring to this organization?
Purposely open ended to allow them to sell their abilities. Looking
for specifics and past accomplishments that are relevant to the
position before revealing what these are.
What are the things you do not like to do, and not want to work on?
Test for honesty. A less threatening way to ask weaknesses. We all
have weaknesses, are they willing to take a risk, be honest and
explain where they might need help? People are good at what they enjoy
and not so good at what they do not enjoy.
Please walk me through a typical day at your current/previous job and
about your boos and relationship with them?
Tests their resume and title against their actual duties. Probes their
level of supervision by their boss and how much autonomy they we
given? Tell me about the people you hired in your last position? How
long did they stay? What percentage worked out? Tests knowledge of
turn-over, training and honesty too (since no one has a 100% success
What adjectives would your references use to describe you?
Keeps it short and can be compared to actual reference comments to see
how self-aware they are about their strengths and weaknesses?
Continue Here From The
C-Level Advisor Newsletter
The “Anti-refs” Question (One of the BEST and most revealing spend
some time digging in.)
Think of someone you have had problems with in your career, as we all
do, who you would NEVER use as a reference. Tell me the
adjectives (to keep short) they might use to describe you and why they
had this perception? Then we can discuss how you dealt with the
This is a great backdoor to the weaknesses questions and far more
effective. It is very open-ended and often brings up events or problems
that they would never volunteer that are indicative of issues. Gets
at potential reference points they will
not volunteer and companies, or environments, where they may struggle.
Tests honesty as anyone saying they never had any problems with
someone else is probably not being totally honest. Tests their ability to deal with difficult situations?
Tests their impressions of the resolution of the problem(s) and if the
company’s mission still got done in spite of personal issues. Give you
things to ask references about that force more honesty.
Tell me what are the first 5 things you would do if you got this
Tests the level they think at, how they go about solving problems, how
quickly they will dig in. How much research and investigation they
will do before implementing changes to be sensitive to the
organization, history and other company specific issues.
What accomplishment in your career to date are you most proud of?
What level is the accomplishment at? Is it big or small? Does it show
skill, luck, focus, hard work, long-term career objectives?
Where would you like to be in 3-5 years in your career? What would you
like to be earning?
Shows ambition, ability to think ahead and plan and tests their plans
against the company's goals for the person and position.
Tell me how you would go about _________
(installing a new system, implement a new procedure)?
This is a position specific question to test specific technical or
managerial knowledge. Too many people do not ask specific deep
technical questions, because they do not know them or are worried
about offending. You need a few domain knowledge questions that are
deep, technical and esoteric enough to prove they understand their
What do you think are the most important
five (3-7) things for you to be successful in this position?
Candidate will most often site what they believe to be their
strengths, which may or may not agree with your corporate priorities
What are some things your current employer could do differently to be
Sour grapes or constructive criticism? What is the level they are
thinking at small or large ideas and concepts? If nothing but complaints they could
be a malcontent, who took no action to improve the situation, or would
have a negative impact on company morale.
Why are you interested in this job? What do you know about our
Genuine interest here or just another job? Shows knowledge of your
company - Did they do their homework on your company what level of
information did they focus on and consider important? Do they talk
about a career path that makes sense within your company?
What have been the biggest failures and frustrations in your career?
Brings out attitudes about failure, risk, and self-responsibility versus
just blaming others and outside factors. Learning experiences, ability
to pick up and move on etc.
Why have you decided to leave your current position?
deeply into this with follow-up questions on their answers? Whatever
is driving this is critical to how they see the world and work. What
did they do to try to correct what was driving them away? Was it out of
their control, or a projection of their own issues?
What risks did you take in your last position?
Studies indicate that people who take risk are generally more
successful than those who do not! As optimists are far more successful
than pessimists. Discussion on this can be very
revealing. In early-stage organizations you will not want to hire
people who are not too risk averse, as they may jump at the first new
opportunity after learning how up and down things can be. You will
also need people willing to fail more rapidly in small ways to help
figure out the company's secret sauce.
my opinion, these are some of the best and most revealing interviewing
questions. More should be added with job or industry specific
questions and this can be done with a forty-five minute interview.
Use the same questions for people in the same position and process, so
you can compare apples to apples and have some consistency when
Always understand their salary requirements and commute distance as
these can vary enormously by candidate and be major factors visa vie
your ability to close the deal.
C-Level Enterprises will do
interviews of senior executives for a
flat rate to help evaluate the skills you
may not be familiar enough with to rate comfortably. This can avoid
costly errors, as a bad hire can cost as much as three times the
salary when you take everything into account. This can easily be a six
figure mistake for senior people.