5 of the Best (and Worst) Interview Questions

Sep 9 / Steve Lowisz
Interviewing may seem easy, but it’s actually one of the hardest parts of recruiting.

In a very short period of time, you have to get to know a total stranger so well that you can predict whether they’ll make a good hire.

And the cost of failure is quite high. A single bad hire can cost an organization as much as $240,000!

With that in mind, here are 5 of the best interview questions...and 5 of the worst, along with our thoughts on what makes each so good (or bad). We'll start with 5 of the best!

"Tell me about a time when you achieved concrete, stellar results."

We’re big fans of any questions focused on results. Anyone can talk about their skills or experience, but at the end of the day a great hire is determined by their ability to deliver tangible results.

Ask about what results they’ve delivered and how they did it to assess their ability to do so in a new role.

"Can you tell me about a time when you faced a big obstacle, and what you did to overcome it?"

This is a great way to find out more about how the candidate deals with adversity. It helps you understand their problem-solving skills, what they do when they’re stuck, and how they move forward in a tough situation.

"What do you like to do for fun?"

This question gives you a chance to get to know the WHOLE person and build some rapport. The more you can connect to someone in an interview, possibly by bonding over shared interests, the more they will open up and you get a chance to see their authentic self.

"Among the people you've worked with, who do you admire and why?"

You can ask directly about someone’s values or beliefs, but you’re likely to get a more honest answer with this question. What someone admires in others will tell you a lot about what’s important to them.

"What do you want to do differently in your next role?"

It’s good to understand what someone is looking for in a new position. This naturally dovetails with what they dislike about their current role, or what prompted them to apply in the first place. If they start discussing all their dislikes about their current role, that can be a red flag that you’re dealing with a negative person who struggles with adversity.

Now for 5 of the worst...
It’s good to understand what someone is looking for in a new position. This naturally dovetails with what they dislike about their current role, or what prompted them to apply in the first place. If they start discussing all their dislikes about their current role, that can be a red flag that you’re dealing with a negative person who struggles with adversity.

Now for 5 of the worst...

"If you were an animal, what animal would you be?"

What does this really tell you about a candidate? All this question achieves is making candidates uncomfortable and disoriented.

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

While it sounds cute, this question is a waste of time because candidates will just tell you what’s on the job description.

Describe Yourself in One Sentence

The problem with this question is that it’s not open-ended. Candidates will give a run-on sentence in an awkward attempt to give as much information as possible. Instead, ask a candidate to “tell me about yourself” so they can give you a broad overview with more breathing room.

"What was the worst trait of your previous manager?"

This question puts the candidate in an uncomfortable position, because it prompts them to badmouth a former colleague and boss. In an interview, you should be trying to make candidates MORE comfortable, not less! The more comfortable a candidate feels, the more authentic they are likely to be with you.

"What's your biggest weakness?"

This question sounds great on paper. The problem is, everyone asks it! It’s one of those common questions that candidates will have prepared a perfect answer for it. They’ll never actually tell you their biggest weakness, and they’ll phrase it in a way that makes it sound like a strength anyway.

Instead, consider asking what professional development would make the candidate a more effective employee.