Employer Branding

8 Interview Questions to Get the Conversation Flowing

Is there intelligent life in outer space?

Looking in the mirror, you are your own worst critic. It is very easy to pick out your flaws because you are watching yourself in stasis, in one dimension. Your friends, on the other hand, observe you while you’re in motion. They see you when you are laughing or talking on the phone, walking or eating lunch, telling a joke or being sarcastic; they think that you are beautiful and dynamic because they see you as a three-dimensional person – and that helps them to overlook your flaws.

Hiring managers often view candidates from only one dimension, making it easy for us to see a job seeker’s flaws without fully exploring what they can bring to our organization. And as the hiring outlook continues to improve in 2015, we will need to think even more critically about what we are really trying to learn about a candidate before the interview process begins.

It is no longer enough to hire a job seeker based on a static resume and rehearsed responses to expected interview questions. We need to start asking questions that elicit passionate and unscripted answers from job seekers – and that helps us to see how a candidate is a cultural fit (or not) for our organization.

To do this, pretend that your next interview is a lunch date with a new friend and that you want to learn as much as possible about what makes this person tick. Ask questions that will help you to learn more about your friend’s ambition, interpretation of success and work ethic. Aim, always, to see your friend in three dimensions; the worst thing that a hiring manager can do is to create an interview environment that relegates a job seeker to only one dimension of his/her skill set.

Here are eight questions to help you kick off the conversation:

1. Why should we hire you?

This is the quintessential question that deserves a great answer. If the candidate can show you without a doubt that he or she must be sitting in that vacant chair come Monday morning, then the query has done its job.

2. How would you spend your first day of work here?

More than likely the candidate has played out this scenario in their head. This is their chance to show you how they would hit the ground running, and why they are a great cultural fit.

3. If you could have chosen another career, what would it be and why?

This question sounds arbitrary, but in reality, it helps build a three-dimensional view of the candidate. More often than not the answer will be truly surprising and the exact opposite of what they’re doing (or would like to be doing) currently.

4. How do you define success?

Success may be something as small as getting a nod of approval from the boss or fixing the copy machine. But some people will tell you they have much bigger ideas of success. If you’re looking for a very ambitious person, or your organization has a specific definition of success, the answer to this will play an important role in your decision.

5. If you caught your boss doing something illegal, what would you do?

Yes, this question is sneaky and dangerous, but it will divulge a lot about your candidate – including their views on loyalty, trust, honesty, business ethics, and responsibility.

6. If you could be any superhero, who would it be and why?

This question not only acts as an icebreaker but also gives you perspective on the candidate’s innermost aspirations – and a sense of how far they are willing to dream – even if it is only a fantasy.

7. Tell me an appropriate joke.

A well-known financial investment firm uses this question in their interviews, mainly because it’s great for sales reps and always puts people at ease. It can also help employers determine if the potential employee has a similar sense of humor – a great indicator of a lasting partnership.

8. Is there intelligent life in outer space?

Everyone has an opinion on this. The surprising nature of the question will help you judge the emotional maturity of your candidate based on how well he or she handles it.

Employers are working hard to ensure that they are courting only the best talent for open positions. However, in addition to confirming that a candidate has the skills necessary to succeed in the position, hiring managers have the immense task of pinpointing whether a candidate fits culturally into the organization.

Because no two candidates are the same, and no two companies are alike, the interview process and the specific questions asked should be adaptable. But, they should also aim to provide a platform for candidates to shine – and most importantly, to show who they really are beyond their resume or qualifications.

Amazing candidates that evolve into strategic employees are the best reflection of you as a hiring manager. Your track record for success will be more attractive if that reflection is three-dimensional.

Related reading: 6 Interview Types You Must Know as a Candidate.

Suki Shah is the CEO and co-founder of, the leading video-based social recruiting platform and job board that is improving the way employers and job seekers connect in today’s digital world. Follow Suki on Twitter @GetHiredInc.

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