(Interview + TIPS
Questions Job Candidates May Ask Recruiters,
Managers, HR pros.
- Questions for Headhunters and
- Questions for HR
- Questions for Hiring Managers
- High-level Probing Questions
- Questions That Are Defensive
- Questions Designed to Get
- Questions Designed to Close the
- Questions Stars May Ask
for Headhunters and Recruiters
How did you find me?
Is this a retainer or contingency assignment?
Are you dealing with the client?s HR people, or do you have direct contact
with the hiring manager?
How long has the client been with you?
How many candidates have you placed with this client?
When will I find out the name of the principal or client company?
May I have a written job description?
Where is the position located?
Where is the company headquartered?
To whom does the position report?
Can you tell me about this executive?s management style?
Why is the position open?
What happened to the person who previously held this position?
Is this a new position?
How long has the position been open?
How long have you been working on the assignment?
What does the position pay?
Are here any pay or compensation constraints that I should take into
What can you tell me about the person who will be interviewing me?
What is his or her position, title, management style?
Who will make the final hiring decision?
After you present my resume, when can I expect to hear from you regarding the
status of this position?
Can you describe, specifically, how the company navigates/balances work? and
What might I do that would violate the culture of the company during my
Why do you enjoy working for this company?
What attracted you to this organization?
Can you describe the work environment here?
How do you describe the philosophy of the company or organization?
What do you consider to be the organization?s strengths and weaknesses?
Can you tell me more about my day-to-day responsibilities?
How soon are you looking to fill this position?
How do my skills compare with those of the other candidates you have
I have really enjoyed meeting with you and your team, and I am very interested
in the opportunity. I feel my skills and experience would be a good match for
this position. What is the next step in your interview process?
Before I leave, is there anything else you need to know concerning my ability to
do this job?
In your opinion, what is the most important contribution that this company
expects from its employees?
Is there a structured career path at the company?
What are my prospects for advancement? If I do a good job, what is a logical
Assuming I was hired and performed well for a period of time, what additional
opportunities might this job lead to?
Do the most successful people in the company tend to come from one area of the
company, such as sales or engineering, or do they rise from a cross section of
I know that for the position for which I am interviewing, the company decided to
recruit from outside the organization. How do you decide between recruiting from
within and going outside?
How does this position relate to the bottom line?
What advice would you give to someone in my position?
What major problems are we facing right now in this department or position?
Can you give me a formal, written description of the position? I?m interested
in reviewing in detail the major activities involved and what results are
Does this job usually lead to other positions in the company? Which ones?
Can you please tell me a little bit about the people with whom I?ll be working
As I understand the position, the title as ________, the duties are _______, and
the department is called ________. I would report directly to __________. Is
Can you talk about the company?s commitment to equal opportunity and
Who are the company?s stars, and how was their status determined?
How are executives addressed by their subordinates?
What can you tell me about the prevailing management style?
If you hired me, what would be my first assignment?
Does the company have a mission statement? May I see iDoes the company have a
mission statement? May I see it?
for Hiring Managers
Could you explain the company?s organizational structure?
What is the organization?s plan for the next five years, and how does this
department or division fit in?
What specific skills from the person you hire would make your life easier?
Will we be expanding or bringing on new products or new services that I should
be aware of?
What are some of the problems that keep you up at night?
What are some of the skills and abilities you see as necessary for someone to
succeed in this job?
What would be a surprising but positive thing the new person could do in first
What challenges might I encounter if I take on this position?
How does upper management perceive this part of the organization?
What are your major concerns that need to be immediately addressed in this job?
What do you see as the most important opportunities for improvement in the area
I hope to join?
What are the attributes of the job that you?d like to see improved?
What are the organization?s three most important goals?
What is your company?s policy on attending seminars, workshops, and other
How do you see this position impacting the achievement of those goals?
What is the budget this department operates with?
What attracted you to working for this organization?
What committees and task forces will I be expected to participate in?
What have you liked most about working here?
How will my leadership responsibilities and performance be measured? By whom?
What are the day-to-day responsibilities I?ll be assigned?
Are there any weaknesses in the department that you are particularly looking to
What are the department?s goals, and how do they align with the company?s
What are the company?s strengths and weaknesses compared with the competition?
(name one or two companies)
How does the reporting structure work here? What are the preferred means of
What goals or objectives need to be achieved in the next six months?
Can you give me an ideal of the typical day and workload and the special demands
the job has?
This a new position. What are the forces that suggested the need for this
What areas of the job would you like to see improvement in with regard to the
person who was most recently performing these duties?
From all I can see, I?d really like to work here, and I believe I can add
considerable value to the company. What?s the next step in the selection
How does this position contribute to the company?s goals, productivity, or
What is currently the most pressing business issue or problem for the company or
Would you describe for me the actions of a person who previously achieved
success in this position?
Would you describe for me the action of a person who previously performed poorly
in this position?
How would you describe your own management style?
What are the most important traits you look for in a subordinate?
How do you like your subordinates to communicate with you?
What personal qualities or characteristics do you most value?
Could you describe to me your typical management style and the type of employee
who works well with you?
Corporate culture is very important, but it?s usually hard to define until one
violates it. What is one thing an employee might do here that would be perceived
as a violation of the company?s culture?
How would you characterize the organization? What are its principal values? What
are its greatest challenges?
How would you describe the experience of working here?
If I were to be employed here, what one piece of wisdom would you want me to
incorporate into my work life?
What are a couple of misconceptions people have about the company?
Work-life balance is an issue of retention as well as productivity. Can you talk
about your own view of how to navigate the tensions between getting work done
and encouraging healthy lives outside the office?
How does the company support and promote personal and professional growth?
What types of people seem to excel here?
Every company contends with office politics. It?s a fact of life because
politics is about people working together. Can you give me some exams of how
politics plays out in this company?
What have I yet to learn about this company and opportunity that I still need to
I?m delighted to know that teamwork is highly regarded. But evaluating
performance of teams can be difficult. How does the company evaluate team
performance? For example, does it employ 360-degree feedback programs?
What are the organization?s primary financial objectives and performance
What operating guidelines or metrics are used to monitor the planning process
and the results?
To what extent are those objectives uniform across all product lines?
How does the company balance short-term performance versus long-term success?
What kinds of formal strategic planning systems, if any, are in place?
Can you describe the nature of the planning process and how decisions concerning
the budgeting process are made?
Can you identify the key corporate participants in the planning process?
How often and in what form does the company report its results internally to its
In the recent past, how has the company acknowledged and rewarded outstanding
What are the repercussions of having a significant variance to the operating
Are budgeting decisions typically made at corporate headquarters, or are the
decisions made in a more decentralized fashion?
I?m glad to hear that I will be part of a team. Let me ask about reward
structures for teams. Does the company have a formal team-based compensation
Is the company more of an early adapter of technology, a first mover, or is it
content to first let other companies work the bugs out and then implement a more
mature version of the technology?
How does the company contribute to thought leadership in its market?
How advanced is the company?s commitment to knowledge management?
I was pleased to hear you describe the company?s branding strategy. How does
branding fit into the overall marketing mix?
How does this position contribute to the company?s goals, productivity, or
According to (name source), your principal competitor, Brand X, is the
best-selling product in the space. What does Brand X do better than your
Business Week magazine ranks the company second (or whatever) in its industry.
Does this position represent a change from where it was a few years ago?
How accessible is the CEO (name him or her) to people at my level of the
Does the CEO (name him or her) publish his or her email address?
I understand that the CEO is really approachable. Are there ground rules for
approaching him or her?
Staff development is mentioned in your annual report as a measure on which
executives are evaluated. What kinds of training experiences might I expect?
Is the department a profit center?
Can you please tell me about the people who will look to me for supervision?
Would I encounter any coworker or staff person who?s proved to be a problem in
What happened to the person who previously held this job?
The incumbent was dismissed? How could the problems have been avoided?
The incumbent was promoted? I?m delighted to hear it. Would it be possible for
me to talk to him or her?
What is the company customer-service philosophy?
Could you tell me about a time when the team/company went out of its way to
provide knock-your-socks-off service?
The best companies rely on rich customer data to fuel personalized content and
services. How is the company doing in personalizing its offerings?
Customers are expecting companies to protect their data. Does the company have a
momentum for ever-increasing personalization with rising concerns for privacy?
How empowered are employees? How much of the company?s money can your people
(including the ones with single-digit pay grades) spend on their own
recognizance to satisfy a customer or address a work-process issue?
How often would I come into direct contact with real, living, breathing, paying
What are the success factors that will tell you if the decision to bring me on
board was the right one?
To make our working relationship successful -- something we both want -- we?ll
need to be sure we have good chemistry together. How might we determine this,
and then what action would you see us engage in to build that relationship?
If you and I were developing some sort of philosophical difference, how would
you want to go about resolving it?
Probing Questions -- often for high-level assignments
Could you please describe the management team to me?
Does the company have a Net-use policy?
Will I receive my assignments from IT or from the business unit?
Do developers have little contact with the business unit or significant contact?
Can you show or sketch me an organizational chart?
If for any reason you were unable to function as CEO, how would you like to see
the company managed?
To whom does the chief information or technology officer report?
How would you describe the degree to which you want your heirs to have strategic
or operational influence in the company until one of them is ready to assume the
role of COO or CEO?
What are you hoping to accomplish, and what will be my role in those plans?
May I see a job description? What are the most important responsibilities of the
How much time should be devoted to each area of responsibility?
What is my spending/budget authority?
What initial projects would I be tackling?
What are the biggest technical challenges ahead for this department/ company?
Presuming that I?m successful on this assignment, where else might I be of
service to the company?
Traditionally, companies have used IT to reduce bottom-line costs. But I am
excited about the use of IT to advance top-line opportunities such as creating
new products and identifying new markets. Can you talk about how IT is used in
this company to create top-line value?
What structured strategies for software testing have you found effective here?
Does the company use an IT steering committee?
If you put all the salespeople in a line from your best to the merely acceptable
performer, what are the earnings of the 50th percentile? The 25th? The 75th?
Can you describe the performance of the sales team?
What is the commission structure, and what is my earning potential in 1,3,5, or
What percentage of salespeople attain objectives?
What percentage of the current people are above and below their set goals?
That Are Defensive -- designed to protect the employee
I understand the company has experienced layoffs within the
last two years. Can you review the reasons why they were necessary?
How were the layoffs handled in terms of notification, severance, outplacement
What rewards have you found effective in recognizing and rewarding exceptional
Are there formal metrics in place for measuring and rewarding performance over
How effectively has the company communicated its top three business goals?
I am a hard worker, and like to be around hard-working people. Am I going to be
comfortable with the level of effort I find here?
Is the company?s training strategy linked to the company?s core business
How does your firm handle recognition for a job well done?
When was the last time you rewarded a subordinate for his or her efforts? What
token of appreciation did you offer?
How does the firm recognize and learn from a brave attempt that didn?t turn
out quite as expected?
If I were a spectacular success in this position after six months, what would I
How much freedom would I have in determining my objectives and deadlines?
How long has this position existed in the organization? Has its scope changed
Do you foresee this job involving significant amounts of overtime or work on
What are the greatest challenges I will face in this position in furthering the
agenda of the organization?
Are my tasks limited to my job description, or will I be performing duties
outside the described job scope?
Designed to Get Feedback
How do you like me so far?
Do you have any concerns about my ability to do the job and fit in?
Is there anything standing in the way of us coming to an agreement?
Do you have any concerns about my experience, education, skills?
How do I compare with the other candidates you have interviewed?
Describe your ideal candidate. What do my qualifications lack compared to those
of the theoretical ideal candidate?
I?m ready to make a decision based on the information I have. Is there
anything else I can elaborate on so that you would have a better understanding
of my qualifications and suitability for this position?
Are there any areas in which you feel I fall short of your requirements?
Can you give me any feedback that would make me more attractive to the company
in the future or that I could benefit from next time?
Is there anything else you need from me to have a complete picture of my
Designed to Close the Deal
Is there anything personally or professionally that you
believe would prevent my being a solid contributor in this role?
Your search is over. You will not find anyone else more qualified to do this job
than I. If I were you, I?d cancel all the other interviews and make me an
I?m not going to keep it a secret. I really want this job, and I know I will
be fantastic in it.
Until I hear from you again, what particular aspects of the job and this
interview should I be considering?
I know I can meet the demands of the position and would make an outstanding
contribution. Can I have the offer?
What will be your recommendation to the hiring committee?
I?m ready to make a decision based on the information I have. Is there
anything else you need to make me an offer?
I am very interested in this job, and I know your endorsement is key to my
receiving an offer. May I have your endorsement?
It sounds to me as if we have a great fit here. What do you think?
It has been an interesting and fruitful discussion. l would very much like to
take it to the next step.
Stars May Ask
What?s the gross profit margin of the division I will be
working in? What percentage of the total profit from the company does it
generate? Is it increasing or decreasing?
What?s your company?s "killer application"? What percentage of the
market share does it have? Will I be working on it?
Can you give me some examples of the best and worst aspects of the company?s
What makes this company a great place to work? What outside evidence (rankings
or awards) do you have to prove this is a great place to work? What is the
company going to do in the next year to make it better?
What would I see if I stood outside the front door at five o?clock? Would
people be smiling? Staying late or leaving early? Would everyone be taking work
Lots of your competitors have great products and people programs. What is the
deciding factor that makes this opportunity superior? Are you able to say any
things that you will do to make this a great experience for me if I accept the
Can you show me that the company has a diverse workforce and that it is tolerant
of individual differences? Does it have affinity groups or similar programs that
I might find beneficial? Is there a dress code? Can you give me an example of
any "outrageous conduct" this firm tolerates the competitors would
Does your company offer any "wow!" benefits? Does it pay for advanced
degrees? Does it offer paid sabbaticals? On-site child care? Relocation
packages? Mentor programs? How are these superior to those of your competitors?
What about job sharing? Flex-time arrangements? Telecommuting? Workout
When top performers leave the company, why do they leave and where do they
When was the last significant layoff? What criteria were used to select those to
Does the company have a program to significantly reward individuals who develop
patents/great products? Is there a program to help individuals "start"
their own firms or subsidiary? Will I be required to fill out noncompete
How many approvals would it take (and how long) to get a new $110,000 project
idea of mine approved? What percentage of employee-initiated projects in this
job were approved last year?
How many days will it take for you (and the company) to make a hiring decision
for this position?
Who are the "coolest" people on my team? What makes them cool? Can I
meet them? Who is the best and worst performer on the team, and what was the
difference in their total compensation last year? Sell me on this team and the
individuals on it that I get to work with. What makes my closest coworkers fun
great people to work with?
What is your "learning plan" for me for my first six months? What
competencies do you propose I will develop that I don?t currently have?
Which individual in the department can I learn the most from? What can he or she
teach me? Can I meet that person? Does the company have a specific program to
advance my career?
Could I miss a day without your advance permission? What percentage of the
people in this position telecommute? Has anyone in the group been allowed to
take a month off (unpaid) to fulfill a personal interest?
Give me some examples of the decisions I could make in this job without any
approvals. Can you show me the degree of autonomy and control I have in this
How many hours a week do you expect the average person on your team to work? How
many hours does the average person in fact work? Are there work-life programs in
place to promote a healthy work-life balance?
How will my performance be evaluated? What are the top criteria you use? What
percentage of my compensation is based on my performance? Is their a process
where the employees get to assess their supervisor? If I do a great/bad job in
the first 90 days, how, specifically, will you let me know? What are the steps
you would take to help me improve? How do you discipline team members?
What is the first assignment you intend to give me? Where does that assignment
rank on the departmental priorities? What makes this assignment a great
How many hours of your time can I expect to get each week for the first six
months on the job? How often will we have scheduled meetings?
If I were frustrated about my job, what specific steps would you take to help me
overcome that frustration? How about if you were frustrated with me? Can you
show me examples of what you have done for others in your group in the past year
to overcome any frustration?
What are the "wows!" of this job? What are the worst parts? And what
will you do to maximize the former and minimize the latter? If I asked the
incumbent what stinks about the job, what would he or she say? Can I talk to him
What will make my physical work environment a fun and stimulating place to spend
What inputs do employees get in departmental decisions? In hiring and assessing
Could I get a chance to see the team in action? Can I sit in on a team meeting?
Shadow someone for a day?
What are the biggest problems facing this department in the next six months and
in one year? What key competencies have you identified that I will need to
develop in the next six months to be successful?
What do you see in me? What are my strongest assets and possible weaknesses? Do
you have any concerns that I need to clear up in order to be the top candidate?
What is the likelihood -- maybe in percentage terms -- that I?ll get an offer?
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