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Published on September 25, 2018

Best 10 Interview Questions for Managers to Hire Exceptional Employee

Best 10 Interview Questions for Managers to Hire Exceptional Employee

Hiring is one of the biggest concerns of executives to management level positions. As it should be, hiring people to work for your company can be rewarding or risky.

Poor choices in hiring can take a drastic toll on the success of the business. Not to mention that who you hire has a direct reflection on you as a manager. Whereas great hiring choices can improve the overall cohesiveness of the work environment and boost production.

Establishing an excellent recruiting process starts with getting the right talent through the doors. Today, it’s considered more of an art than science, especially for startups and regardless of the company structure or rubrics.

There is added emphasis on the importance of asking the right questions during interviews. You only have a short amount of time with each potential candidate so you need to maximize your time accordingly. Just how do you do that?

10 best interview questions for managers to hire great employees

There are hundreds of interviews questions but few are recommended by a senior leader in their respected fields.

1. What is something about yourself that others might find surprising?

What better way to get the cognitive juices flowing and set the pace for an interview than to allow the interviewee a chance to think outside of the box?

Rather than opening with an unguided interview question or statement such as, “Tell me a little about yourself” you keep the conversation focused and demand sincerity early on. It’s important to ask unique questions to obtain unique answers.

2. Why did you choose this industry and career?

Instead of asking questions that warrant a one or two sentence response such as Why are you here? Why are you interested in our company? Why are you interested in this job? Where exactly do you see yourself in 5 years? And 10 years? What is your dream job?

This question is designed to allow the interviewee to start to open up and express their professional and personal interests and goals.

As a manager, it’s important to learn more about your prospect’s career goals and how the position fits into their plan. You also want to make sure they are sincerely interested in the job and will be motivated to perform if chosen.

At the same time, this question is the bridge to building a more personal relationship with your candidate early into the hiring process. Based on your criteria, do you need to hire someone who is passionate about their career or someone who just showed up to collect a paycheck and benefits?

You can even learn about their 5 and 10 year-plan from this question and see what positions they hope to reach over the coming years.

3. What do you know about our company, what interests you the most and why do you want to work here?

We should believe that with the convenient access to information online today that most candidates would do their homework, but that’s not always the case. Unfortunately, some job applicants may not even know they type of business the company they applied for engages in.

Ask this interview question and you’ll find out quickly who is sincerely interested in working for you — and who isn’t.

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Skill is something that can be taught but enthusiasm cannot. When a potential employee is genuinely excited about an opportunity, this usually translates into excellent work and greater longevity with your company.

Ask your interviewee about what initially attracted them to the position? What sparked their attention? What makes them most excited about the prospect of working for your company?

Doing so will not only provide yet another confirmation of their grasp of the duties of the role but also gives you a chance to figure out what aspects of the job description interest them the most.

4. From everything you’ve learned about this role, myself and our company, tell me how you feel you’d make a contribution.

This statement lets you see how much research your potential employee has done before arriving to the interview. While most qualified candidates typically will conduct research on the company and the position prior to the interview, a great candidate will take that extra step to be better prepared.

That same mindset will carry over into their working habits. Would you rather have an over-prepared or under-prepared new hire?

5. What would you have liked to do more of in your last position? What held you back?

A great way for a candidate to express their previous job experience and challenges without asking, “What are some challenges?” You control the direction and can easily bypass any challenges unrelated to the matter.

Were they faced with limited responsibilities, not enough job training, or poor leadership? Asking what held that potential employee back from something they wanted more of out of their last position will offer insight on whether they will feel the same way about their job working for your company in the future.

6. Only choosing one or the other, do you work hard or smart?

Similar but very different from the notorious question asked by Burger King’s 36-year-old CEO Daniel Schwartz.[1]

Questions that aren’t posted on job application websites are more likely to warrant an unrehearsed response. By forcing the candidate to think on the spot and choose whether they want to appear as the right fit for the job is a great way to test their critical thinking and constructive criticism capabilities.

In Schwartz’ mind, there is a right and wrong answer for this question. He simply prefers people who work hard.

A tough labor demanding job may warrant the hard-working response whereas a position that demands more organization, scheduling, and many other tasks may require the smart worker response. A smart worker might be able to handle prolonged periods of stress while someone who works too hard for extensive amounts of time could become overwhelmed and crash.

7. How would you further describe your working style and how you are able to handle tight deadlines?

This builds from the last question, while you don’t want to build a team of people who are completely homogenous, it’s important to make sure that new additions are flexible and can work in a way that doesn’t wrench a hole in the way things currently operate.

For that reason, get to know each candidate’s working style. Do they like to collaborate with other members of the team or do they prefer to work independently? Do they require a lot of direction or can they take initiative, using good judgement and complete the task without supervision?

The insight gained from this interview question alone is invaluable for determining the right match for the job and debatably more importantly, for the entire team.

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Another aspect that should be included with this question is the potential employee working style under time constraints, especially for positions that constantly demand a deadline.

Do you need someone who can work well under pressure? More importantly, do you need someone who can manage others or someone who can take orders well while dealing with limited time-frames for projects?

Ask your candidates this question and you will gain their opinion on how well they are able to handle stress as well as the insight on whether they can keep up with the pace at your organization.

Other follow-ups to this question could include asking if:

  • They’ve ever missed a deadline?
  • How they handled missing a deadline?
  • If it’s better to be good and on-time or perfect and late?

8. How do you develop yourself outside of the work environment? And what are some of your hobbies?

Whether it’s personal, professional or leadership development, it comes in all shapes and sizes and can easily be identified in someone’s hobbies, sense of purpose, or their hunger to explore.

The question isn’t the most conventional interview question but it’s always important to remember that you’re hiring a person. Do you want someone who can connect well with you and your team or a robot who is incapable of sharing interests, forming bonds and building relationships?

It is a commonly accepted fact by the business decision-makers that the skill of employees account for 85% of a company’s assets. Therefore, organizations dedicate much of their resources on training and improving the workplace. Employee efficiency and talent determines the pace and growth of the organizations.

You shouldn’t feel uncomfortable asking a question like this, especially if this question is asked later in the interview after you have had the opportunity to learn more about the prospect.

Understanding their personal investment into themselves will allow you to connect on a more personal level while also getting a bigger picture of what makes them “tick.”

9. Why should we hire you?

Many experts agree this is among the best interview questions because you’re asking the candidate to define what sets them apart from everyone else you have interviewed in a competition-intense job market.

If you are ever faced with a pile of resumes or interviewees telling similar stories about themselves this question helps you determine the best candidate.

A study conducted by Altimeter and LinkedIn showed that socially engaged companies are more likely to find that:[2]

Employees are more engaged, more likely to stay and refer great talent, are more competitive and optimistic, and more likely to increase business and sales opportunities, drive greater lead generation, cultivate innovation, and yield top talent.

Another great way to consider the importance of this question is that an interviewee who does well explaining their background, experience, credentials, and hobbies will do the same thing for your company once hired.

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10. Do you have any questions for me?

An excellent question to end the interview with while gaining additional insight on the quality of the potential employee. Last impressions are just as important as first impressions, especially for extensive hiring processes and multiple interviews.

If the candidate was paying attention during the interview, they won’t find this to be a tough question to answer so there’s no logical explanation for a blank stare response.

Substantial answers to this question signal a higher level of preparation and initiative.

Furthermore, those candidates that took notes during the interview and jotted down some questions to ask indicates their level of interest in the company beyond an individual role and shows their interest to the overall relationship within and among the organization.

View interview questions from multiple angles

Research suggests that most hiring decisions are made within 15 seconds.[3] Whether that is enough time to warrant a good decision is debatable by many experts but unless they are poorly dresses or have bad hygiene it is advised to avoid passing any judgements until the interview is at least 50% complete.

The best interview questions will tell you a story about the person behind the resume. These questions are designed to reveal their habits, lifestyle, personality, knowledge, strengths, weaknesses, skills and abilities.

Interview questions should also benefit the job seeker and provide them with a chance to speak on details that don’t fit on one or two sheets of paper.

Today’s savvy interviewer will always include interview questions tailored specifically to the company and position. This list of the 10 best questions works across various industries and job descriptions.

Other important interview questions to consider asking interviewees

In my experience, many hiring processes and interviews don’t ask questions that require enough thought or sincere answers. By asking the right questions during the interview you set the pace and demand more than the ordinary well-rehearsed answer.

Among the 10 best questions that help managers hire great employees are questions that are more directly associated with the specific needs to certain companies or job descriptions.

You might want to include questions such as:

Why are they leaving their current job? What is the candidate’s ideal work environment? Does the candidate work best alone or on a team?

Then, of course, there are other questions that are more suitable for certain instances, such as:

  • Will your candidate need to relocate if they are chosen for the position?
  • Are they open to traveling if required?
  • Can they work long hours, overtime, holidays and weekends?

These questions can also build from the 10 questions and can also be formatted in such as way that appears organic as opposed to rehearsed.

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The companies with the highest success employ the right talent quite often. In hiring the right talent, successful employers like to pinpoint specific questions that make it clear whether or not the candidate would be an ideal fit.

The best interview questions should make even the hiring manager think.

Interview questions should be challenging and should be harder for interviewees to prepare for. These questions are designed to reveal the most the most about your candidate and in the shortest amount of time.

I have often asked managers from different walks of life about their “go to” interview questions and why they are so important. Of the hundred or so questions I’ve found a common theme.

Here’s what I picked up:

  • Most avoid easy-to-practice questions.
  • Most avoid asking the same questions that were asked during the job application.
  • Most ask questions that are open for two-way input and response so that interviews are conversations rather than interrogations. This is neat because it allows you more opportunity to excite the candidate about the job they are applying for.

While the job seeker is on the nerve-wracking end of the table, job interviews can inspire some level of anxiety in managers as well. Asking the right questions with allow you to really hone in on the best candidate for the opening.

Common interview questions to avoid asking qualified candidates

One last thing to keep in mind. In the same manner, it’s important to ask the right questions, avoid interrogating candidates and instead you should get them excited about the job! This carries the same importance as to why you should avoid common interview questions that some candidates might even repulse.

For example:

  • Describe yourself.
  • What are your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
  • Why do you want to leave your current company?
  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
  • Discuss your resume.
  • Discuss your educational background.
  • Tell me how you handled a difficult situation.
  • Why are you looking for a new job?
  • What are your salary requirements?
  • Who are our competitors?
  • What was your biggest failure? Regret?
  • What motivates you?
  • What is your availability?
  • Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss.
  • How do you handle pressure?
  • What is the name of our CEO?
  • What are your career goals?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What makes you uncomfortable?
  • What questions have I not asked you?

These common questions should be reworded. If not avoided, they should be asked in the context of a conversation instead of the focus of the interview. The interviewer can practice and rehearse while not seeming as if that were the case.

It’s not so much that they are bad questions, the same insight can be gained using our 10 questions or again, by asking them in addition to and in the context of the 10 questions.

While there are plenty of tips for interviewers you’ll want to keep these tips in your repertoire to get the most information out of that short conversation.

Remember these 10 interview questions to ask, and you’re much more likely to hire the best people for the job.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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D'Vaughn Bell

Executive consultant, Philanthropist, Entrepreneur

Transform Your Attitude for Success with These 16 Killer Techniques Best 10 Interview Questions for Managers to Hire Exceptional Employee

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Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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