Interviews and Discovery

July 20, 2021 Transformational Coaching

Detective skills come in handy when interviewing candidates. Detectives are curious, skilled in asking behavioral and motivational-based questions, active listeners, and very comfortable with silence. It is not just the questions you ask, but how well you listen to the candidate’s response, observe his/her behavior and cue off of those responses to ask the next question. 

Over the years we have been asked, “How do you discover the ‘real’ person during an interview?” We thought we’d share some of our interviewing questions that uncover attitudes, beliefs, motivation and predictive behaviors during an interview. We also use an interviewing tool, Interviewing Insights, that helps to develop the questions we ask as well as key in on the most important values, attitudes and beliefs, soft skills and qualifications that are necessary for the position.  

Here are some examples:


Give me an example of a time in your career when someone acted unethically or was dishonest. [Listen for their definition of unethical/dishonest. Follow up with questions like … What is your definition of ethical behavior? In your mind, what would be dishonest behavior that would make you question a person’s or organization’s trustworthiness?]

Client Service

What was the most difficult client situation you have ever had to handle? Tell me the situation, how you handled it, and what was the outcome. [Listen for attitude expressed about the client, what skills did s/he use, what resources were used, and what the candidate said about the outcome. At the end ask, “What did you learn and how have you applied the learning since that experience?”]

Criteria for Next Position

In order for you to find the Company that will be a right fit for you, what characteristics are most important to you?

Team Player

What makes a good team player?  Give me an example of a time when you felt one of your co-workers was not a good team player?  What expectations do you have of team members?  Tell me about a situation when you were on a team and felt you were doing more than other team members? [Listen carefully to the answers for responses about how other people behaved.  This reveals an individual’s own preferences and actually tells you what is important to him/her.]

Takes Initiative

Give me an example of a time when you went above and beyond what was asked of you. [Follow up to explore why s/he went above and beyond? What was s/he thinking? What was the outcome? What did s/he learn as a result of doing that? Listen for the individual’s thought processes around what needed to be done and why s/he specifically took the action.]

Trainable/Interested and Willing to Learn

We have been through many months of a pandemic. Tell me what you have learned about yourself during this time and how you are applying that learning.  How about your work? What have you learned and how are you hoping to apply that in your new position?

When you started your last position, what did the company do to train you?  What worked? What didn’t?  What is the best way for you to learn?

Tell me about a course or class you took recently and what you learned? What was the last book or article you read and what did you learn?  What do you do to continue developing your skills and yourself?

One last tip

Get really comfortable with silence. Once you ask a question, stop talking and just wait for the answer. A candidate’s ability to reflect prior to answering a question tells you a whole lot about them.

If you don’t see in the questions above, the question that uncovers a specific value, attitude, belief, soft skill or qualification that you are looking for in a candidate, call and we’ll help you create your customized list of perfect questions.