We asked five of our Vitamin T pros (all former recruiters and hall-of-famer interviewers) to share their most telling interview questions and let us know what makes them stand out from the pack.
These are great questions to help you discover a candidate’s personality, strengths, weaknesses, and abilities.
“Tell me about the boss, manager, or employer who has gotten the best work from you.”
Market Manager, San Diego
When a candidate is able to give a concrete example and tell a story of how they utilized the coaching of their direct manager to achieve a specific success, it provides insight into the management style they operate best under, as well as what motivates them.
Don’t ask a closed-ended question like, “Do you work better independently or in teams?" With that question, candidates are often tempted to give as inclusive an answer as possible to not rule themselves out for your position. By asking them to describe a specific situation where they were most successful, you're able to put those things together and assess what types of cultures, work preferences, and management style would be best for the talent to thrive in.
“What is one professional decision you’ve made that you would have done differently in hindsight?”
Training and Development Specialist
This is one of my favorite questions because it gives the candidate an opportunity to explain any gaps or quick endings you see on their resume. It also gently forces them to not only be transparent about a difficult moment in their career, but to provide self-evaluation based upon their current goals and aspirations. It’s a great way to get a look into their self-awareness and integrity.
A good answer to this question would sound something like, "On one project, I dramatically underestimated the amount of time it was going to take me to complete it. I kept seeing the deadline get closer and closer, and I just kept trying to make up for lost time, but I ended up missing it. Since then I’ve concentrated on giving more realistic deadlines and always contacting my client as SOON as I think the timeline might move or that the scope has changed." This sort of answer shows me what they’ve learned and what sorts of actions they’ve taken to grow professionally.
A bad answer? "One time I got really angry at my boss so I stormed out of the office in the middle of the afternoon. In retrospect, I just needed to take time to cool off."
“What would people you’ve worked with say is your super power?”
Specialist Agent - Talent Bridge
I love this question because candidates are only going to know the answer if their co-workers have been singing their praises. It also indicates how quick-witted they are (because who asks this question?) When you ask this you’ll find out more about their cultural/interpersonal skills, reliability, and their relationship building.
A good answer to this question would be something like, "I think they would say that my super power is getting cohesiveness on a team. My managers like having me involved because I can pull everything together, and they regularly ask me to participate in collaborations and meetings. Sometimes it's hard for everyone to work together, but I have a strength creating a strong team bond and being able to pull out everyone's value."
“What has been your proudest moment, and why?”
VP, Client Services
This is a great way of pulling out individual accomplishments, not just shared successes. People are more likely to elaborate on personal contributions when you're asking them about the project that was their "baby." It's also a fantastic way to see what makes them get out of bed in the morning.
Ask this and you’ll get intel on the candidate’s initiative, ownership, involvement, participation, contribution, motivation, and values. That’s a lot of heavy lifting for one little question! A good answer would give the interviewee a chance to brag. You should be able to see their pride beaming through… and it shouldn’t be too hard for them to identify. A bad answer would something that’s not work related!
“What is something you secretly geek out over?”
This is my go-to question when I want to uncover someone’s true passion, something probably not listed on their resume. It helps highlight their intellectual curiosity and thought process.
I have a peer who used this once to hire an account coordinator, who immediately lit up and answered "French culture." It was an odd response, but the candidate went on to explain not only how committed she was to learning their language, but reveal that she and her sister pool their money every year to spend a week in France (and have weekly phone calls speaking only in French).
While that might not tell you much about her ability to execute marketing strategy, it says a lot about her level of commitment, passion, intensity and, most importantly, her curiosity and dedication to a given task.