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17 Killer Interview Questions...

November 4, 2008
by Tim Tolan
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In a book I co-authored earlier this year titled “The CEO’s Guide to Talent Acquisition" we highlighted a list of questions that a hiring managers should consider using in the interviewing process. It’s not rocket science and... I am in NO way suggesting that this is a complete and comprehensive list of questions. I am only suggesting that you might find some of these questions interesting the next time you conduct an in person interview. Whether you use some of these questions or a list of your own, you should try to create an interview questionnaire that you follow in each interview session. It will make the interview flow much better and give you a way to benchmark and compare answers to the same questions.

  1. What question do you have for me right away?
  1. What would really surprise me about you? What else?
  1. What’s your real motivation to change jobs? No, the real reason (test, re-test)
  1. What’s your philosophy on goal setting?
  1. What reading material would I find on your coffee table, nightstand, kitchen table, car?
  1. Tell me a story about you placed in an ethical dilemma and what happened?
  1. How did you earn money while in college?
  1. How far away from home have you traveled? (Have a map on your desk)
  1. Draw me a pie chart showing how you spend an 8 hour day.
  1. Are you a curious person, and if so, show me an example
  1. What’s your favorite success story and failure story?
  1. What should I have asked you that I haven’t?
  1. Want to be a millionaire? Why? What are you doing to prepare for it?
  1. How would your world change if you made $35,000 more next year?
  1. Are you ready to resign form your job in 5 days? What will they do when you quit? What will they say about you after you have left the company?
  1. Share some stories about the 4 most influential people you know.
  1. Have you ever created a 30, 60, 90-day strategic plan for your job or a future job? (Well, today’s their lucky day)

Happy interviewing!!!



If you only had 5 minutes and the candidate you were interviewing met the position profile, and in your mind was a "dead ringer" for the opening - I would validate their motivation to make a career change by asking: "What's your real motivation to change jobs? No, the real reason (test, re-test)". Keep digging — it will eventually come out.
The answer to this one question should set the stage for any follow-up questions you may have as long as you know they are motivated to move to the next step. I always like to know that I am spending my time on a candidate that is highly motivated in making a career change and is genuinely engaged in the hiring process. It's a good practice to qualify that up front. Great question!

These are very interesting questions. If you had only 5 minutes to ask one question of a candidate who, on paper, appeared to have all the skills you were seeking, which of the 17 above would you ask?