In Interviewing Asking Good Questions is Half the Battle

February 19, 2013

Ask Good Questions

For most positions, there is an initial phone-screening interview with a representative from human resources. Use this phone screening to ask important job-requirement questions. When you ask questions about the requirements, rather than simply answering questions, you appear motivated and professional. Typically, you’ll impress the screener, who plays an important role in the hiring decision. The next three sections provide lists of suggested questions.

Position Qualifications Questions

*     What are three or four “must-have” qualifications a person should possess to be selected for this position?

*     In addition to the “must haves” for this position, what are some other qualifications that are important to have?

*     What criteria will you use to make your hiring decision?

*     What personal qualities will it take to get this job done?

*     What skill sets are required to be successful in this position?

*     What are the most important personal characteristics for a person in this position?

Position Task Questions

*     What are the major responsibilities of this position?

*     What is the highest priority for a person in this position?

*     What important issues need to be addressed immediately?

*     Where do you see this position going in the next few years?

*     What is a typical day for a person in this position?

*     What made the previous person on this job successful (or unsuccessful)?

*     What difficulties did the previous person in this position have?

*     What kind of planning and organizing does the job entail?

*     What do you consider the greatest challenge(s) of this position?

*     Could you tell me about the way the job has been performed in the past? And what improvements you’d like to see happen?

*     What are the biggest obstacles to performing this position well?

*     What would represent success for a person in this position in six months? In 12 months?

*     What are the major challenges a person in this position will face over the next six months?

*     Do you foresee any major changes in this position over the next six months?

The next 12 months?

*     What are the challenges I would face in this position over the next three months?

*     What surprising and positive thing could a new person do in first 90 days?

*     What is the first assignment you intend to give the person you hire?

*     What are three accomplishments I will need to have checked off at three, six, and twelve months from starting this role? How do these support the department, division, and corporate strategic objectives? What resources are already allocated to accomplish these goals?

*     What are the two or three things I would need to do to make sure the major goal of the job was accomplished?

*     What could I do in the position that would surprise and amaze you?

Organizational Questions

*     To whom does this position report?

*     Tell me about some of the people that a person in this position will interact with on a regular basis

*     Is this a new position? If it is new, why are you adding it at this time?

*     What types of people tend to excel in this company?

The answers to these questions will give you excellent insight into the critical requirements for the job. When you have the insights, you are ready to prepare for your interview, including identifying the problem(s) to be solved, anticipating questions, developing questions to ask, and preparing an interview presentation.