The Best Five Questions You Will Ever Ask a Potential Employee
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The Best Five Questions You Will Ever Ask a Potential Employee

Congratulations on your success! Why? Because if you find yourself in a position where one of your duties is to interview prospective employees, you have obviously earned your way to one of the top ranking positions in your organization. It is a wonderful feeling to be in charge, to have people report to you, to delegate work to, and quite often do the research and back ground work you need in order to produce that project that will send you soaring to the top. Well, that is the case if you have the right people working for you, which more than likely translates into if you did a good job hiring those employees. Therefore, hiring the right employee is important not only for the overall well being of the organization but for your own success.

A well written Resume is good and great references are really good, but nothing tells the story better than the individual itself in a successful job interview. By that I mean an interview with great questions that create the most interaction between you and the prospective employee. Keep in mind that even though most of the questions should always be job specific and appropriate for the position you are interviewing for, here are some questions you could ask which will give you great insight as to who this individual really is (professionally) and what you can expect from him/her as an employee in the months or years ahead, should they be hired.

1. What are some of the most valuable lessons you learned while working for your previous employers? The answer should give you a good insight as to how much a pat of the organization this individual felt he/she was. Did he/she just work there or did he/she have a sense of belonging and being a part of the whole? Was this person there just doing a job or did he/she try to make something out of the position held? Through the answer you may even get a sense as of why this person really left.

2. Were you ever asked to perform a task in a specific way but you felt it could have been done differently or more effectively? Explain. The answer should definitely provide you with a sense as to how creative this person may be and how much thought and interest this person puts into the job.

3. How do you feel about being asked to take on new tasks that may be somewhat beyond your current position’s scope? This question is critical in determining if a prospective employee has any “drive” or aspirations to move up in the organization. Someone you can count on to step up to the plate and come through during critical times or is this individual the type that will only do what is outlined in the job description – no more no less.

4. What has been the most important accomplishment in you career so far and, why was it so significant? While answering, the individual can tell you so much, even without realizing it. Let him/her talk and take notice of how much, or how little, enthusiasm is put forth while speaking. Was the accomplishment really significant? Did it really take a lot of work and effort to accomplish? While doing it, did they go above and beyond what was expected of them at the time? Did it result in a promotion or did it give her/him the incentive to seek higher education or training to better themselves?

5. Should you be hired, what would be your ultimate goal within this organization? This is a tricky, but excellent question. Definitely a “double edged sword” type of question and the ultimate test for a prospective employee, depending how it is answered. Does this person ultimately want your job? Well, depending on the attitude, tone of voice and body language (pay lots of attention to body language!) it could be a good thing because it definitely shows the person has “drive” and is looking at this opportunity as a career not just another job. The reality is that you are probably hoping to be promoted at some point yourself, and that will leave this person ready to take on your job (and possibly be your right hand) in the future. On the other hand, watch out, this person may turn out to be totally “cut throat,” not a team player at all, and just looking out for him or/herself. If this person’s answer is “just to keep my job” well you may just be looking at someone who has not interest in getting anywhere and will not do more than the bare minimum. So, it depends in what you are looking for as to what the right answer is for you.

No interview is, as is no Resume or references given, 100% fool proof. However, doing everything possible, using the tools available to you to get the most accurate “picture” of this prospective employee is as close to 100% as you are going to get. A successful interview with good interaction between interviewer and interviewee, should give you a good idea as to this person’s personality, qualifications, and whether he or she will be compatible with you and the organization as a whole. So, good luck and Happy Interviewing!!!

Guiding thoughts, guiding words, for guiding minds…….maribelclarissa

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Comments (10)

I think that this is a great article. I was asked many questions just like these when I applied for a job with the federal government. Good points, very realistic, and I love your explanations of each point. Well written.

Great article for both interviewers and candidates.

Good questions to ask at interviews.

Thank you so much for the feedback. Glad you liked the article!!

Loved your article, but my experience has been opposite. These questions are all 100% relevant, but are idealistic in my city. I don't know why - that's just generally the way, here. Interviews are often a hodgepodge of broken labor laws, graft and getting chased around a room to see who can run the fastest. The first time I was selected to interview for new hires was in a medium-size company in NYC. The backstory was that my supervisor went to lunch one day and never returned. After a year of his absence and lacking all authority to get tasks done, the HR people asked me to conduct interviews to replace him, since I seemed to be the only employee who understood the very detailed technical aspects of that job, who worked at this company. When provided with a salary range, the opening offer was three times my own salary. I placed ads for the job, interviewed no one and three days later, hired myself and gave myself the triple salary. No one in HR even noticed until the next year's Christmas Party when my nametag read "Ileen Zovluck. Department Director." I got better with the interview skills after that.

Maritza Manresa

Thank you so much for the feed back. It is so nice to hear from people who read the articles. I congratulate you because I must say you were pretty clever!! I wish I had been that clever once in my life when I got passed over for a promotion! Well, I am glad you read my article I hope to write in the future other things that will be of interest to you. Have a great day!


These are excellent questions. I'm glad you listed the reasoning behind each question.

very long article,no fun to read. Got bored. But others seem to like it. So thanks 4 the article.

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