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219+ Next-Level Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

The only list of smart and insightful job interview questions to ask candidates you’ll ever need.

Jodie Sandell PHR and SHRM-CP
Consultant, project manager, writer, and process improver with over 15 years of HRM experience
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The value of interviewing a job candidate is largely dependent on the questions you ask.

In order to determine what you should ask as an interviewer, you first need to pose some questions to yourself:

  • What are the hard skills, soft skills, and experience you require in the position?
  • What personality traits would contribute to success on your team, and within your organizational culture?

Based on what you want to learn from the interview, you can predetermine the best interview questions to ask candidates in order to make a fair and accurate comparison.

This article is designed to assist you with selecting the most appropriate questions to garner the data you need to make the best possible hire.

Tips for conducting interviews ultimately revolve around these two things: prompt for more information with follow-up questions, and listen. Good luck and happy hiring!

In This Article

A recruiter preparing interview questions for candidates.

Editor's note: The phrasing of the questions below are suggestions. Feel free to change the wording or customize the question based on the role, your candidate, and the setting. For example, you may want to adjust based on whether you’re interviewing a candidate in person, or in a virtual setting.

If you are interviewing remotely, a video interview platform is essential. Have a look at our buyer guides of recommended video interview software and free video interview software to learn about the best options on the market.

The 50 Best Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

1. Tell me about yourself.

Why ask this: This open-ended question gives you a sense of what the candidate considers a priority to highlight without being prompted. Their response is a reflection of what they most value about themselves in the context of a work opportunity. As such it shows their self-awareness. This is also one of many great video interview questions to ask.

Red flag responses: Although you do want to get a sense of your candidate's personality, the setting implies a work-related response. If the candidate spends more than a minute or two talking about their personal history or shares information unrelated to their professional interests and experiences, it should raise concern over their professionalism.

Green flag responses: An ideal response would be a one to two-minute career summary that showcases the candidate's strengths and related work experiences via a succinct education and work history.

2. What was your first job?

Why ask this: This is a great question to ask candidates as it often reveals their personal interests and values. It can be fun and informative for them to recall their first memories of work.

Red flag responses: Expressing negativity about a former position or badmouthing a former employer can indicate a lack of professionalism.

Green flag responses: It is a great sign when a candidate reflects positively about their career start. Even better if they express what interested them, what they learned, and how that foundation ultimately brought them to the opportunity for which you are interviewing them.

3. What do you know about the company?

Why ask this: A candidate genuinely interested in finding the right career match will have researched your organization. Having information deeper than what’s on your homepage shows diligence and passion.

Red flag responses: If your new potential employee is unable to share knowledge about your company’s history or purpose, this is worrisome. Candidates should be prepared to discuss themselves. But they should also understand your company well enough to explain why they are a good match.

Green flag responses: When a candidate relates the mission and values of your company to their own, this can be an indicator of a great hire.

4. Why do you want to work for this company specifically?

Why ask this: This question reveals your potential new hire’s values and goals. It shows whether your company culture will be a good fit.

Red flag responses: A candidate who doesn’t know what is important to your company may just be looking for “anything” so they can leave their current job. If they haven’t done enough research to know what’s important to your organization, ask yourself why they are applying.

Green flag responses: A response indicating there is alignment between your organization’s mission, philosophy, values, vision, and goals is a green flag to move forward.

5. Why did you apply for this job?

Why ask this: This question can reveal how much time a job seeker is putting into their job search. Are they vaguely interested, which implies that they’re applying to every job that pops up on LinkedIn? Or are they being more selective?

It also touches on their motivation. Are they prepared to leave their current role because the opportunity you offer is specifically important to them, or are they really just interested in leaving their current employer? If their motivation is simply to move on, your company might just be a stepping stone for them.

Red flag responses: Red flags include criticism of a current employer, goals of (only) making more money, and vague answers that don’t indicate knowledge about and genuine interest in your vacancy.

Green flag responses: Look for a candidate who specifically references duties in your job ad and how their skill set and experience are a match for those responsibilities.

6. Why do you want to leave your current role or company?

Why ask this: By learning what is driving this interviewee to leave, you can consider whether those same conditions exist in your organization. Will this employee be looking to leave your company for these same reasons? This question can also reveal a candidate’s level of professionalism.

Red flag responses: Problematic answers would include unnecessary negativity about their current company. This includes sharing confidential information about their current employer’s circumstances or practices.

Green flag responses: A candidate expressing a desire to learn more and have better career growth opportunities than their current role allows is a good sign.

7. What has prepared you to be a (vacant position)?

Why ask this: This is a good question to ask a potential new hire as it shows their investment in researching your vacancy. It also forces their education, experience, and passion in this industry to come to light.

Red flag responses: Be concerned if your candidate has no relevant experience, education, or acquired skills to be successful in your open position. Stay cautious if your candidate doesn’t display understanding about what preparation may be needed for this role.

Green flag responses: Transferable skills are valuable, and a lack of experience or education should not be a red flag unto itself. A candidate who can show how their work history has supported their preparation for this role is a clear green flag.

8. What are your greatest strengths?

Why ask this: This question is about personality and work style, versus skills and education. It also displays self-awareness.

Red flag responses: A job seeker should be armed with an answer to this question, as this is a pretty common one. Watch out for a potential new hire who thinks they are good at everything - or who struggles to come up with a response.

Green flag responses: Typically, employers are looking for traits like loyalty, honesty, and adaptability. A candidate giving examples of how they embody these qualities is a green light.

9. What is your biggest weakness?

Why ask this: This question, like the one about strengths, is also about personality and work style. It also shows a candidate’s ability to spin a perceived negative into a positive.

Red flag responses:  If a candidate tells you they focus too much on detail or they are sensitive to criticism, be aware of whether their answer stops there. If it does, this is a red flag.

Green flag responses: A mindful candidate might tell you their weakness but they will follow up with how they have worked on that trait. They will tell you how they use it to their advantage. You will end up believing their weakness can be a strength if they do this right.

10. What is most important to you in a work environment?

Why ask this: Asking a candidate to describe their ideal work environment will highlight whether they are a potential employee who is collaborative, inclusive, and supportive of their team, manager, and peers. Alternatively, their answer might indicate they work well in isolation.

Red flag responses: If your company culture touts communal work cubes without walls, daily brainstorm sessions, and teaming up for kickball, be wary of a candidate who displays a lack of interest in joining in. While teams generally do better when everyone is not the same, the interest in relationship development in this example is important not to overlook.

Green flag responses: In this sense, a green flag depends on how your candidate meshes with your current environment. If your company culture is head-down and deep-focus dependent, an extroverted collaborator may not be the best fit for your current group.

A hiring manager conducting a video interview with a remote candidate.

11. What are you hoping for in your next role?

Why ask this: Consider your candidate’s answer and whether they are looking for something your organization is able to offer.

Red flag responses: If your interviewee wants more responsibility, and this position is entry-level with no escalation path in the next year, is this the right match? If not, they’ll likely move on soon.

Green flag responses: If your potential new hire is excited about using existing skills that match the job’s needs, this is a good sign. If they are excited about learning new skills that will be required in this role, that’s a bonus.

12. What is the most recent thing you learned?

Why ask this: This question reveals your candidate’s self-awareness, interest in learning, and perhaps a passion for an area not yet discussed in the interview.

Red flag responses: If an interviewee says they haven’t learned anything recently and blames it on the static job they are currently looking to leave, run for the hills. People dedicated to learning and development will always find a way to advance their knowledge about something— even if it doesn’t interest them.

Green flag responses: Employees interested in professional development are lifelong learners who will advance themselves and your organization. Maybe they learned about a new technology or how to stock a warehouse efficiently. It’s the genuine interest in and excitement about expanding their knowledge base that is attractive.

13. What are you most proud of in your professional life so far?

Why ask this: This will help you understand your candidate’s history, values, and skills better. It will also show more about the type of work they have been performing in past roles.

Red flag responses: If your candidate is most proud of an accomplishment that displays qualities that are not helpful for your vacancy or organization, this could be problematic. They should be sharing accomplishments that support the idea that they are a good match.

Green flag responses: Look for experiences that display a clear ability to learn and persevere.

14. What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Why ask this:  This question helps understand the person they are naturally, outside of their career.

Red flag responses: A candidate sharing that they “love to party” is a sign that they lack awareness and professionalism. Having a few drinks and socializing is not the issue. It’s about what is appropriate to share with a potential new employer.

Green flag responses: Sharing their passion for sports, reading, religion, traveling, or family time is a great opportunity to learn more about what makes your candidate tick.

15. How would your former managers and coworkers describe you?

Why ask this:  An answer here will indicate how the job seeker views themselves in the eyes of others. It can reveal their work style, their tendency towards a role on a team, and their ability to work within a team environment. Are they the workhorse, the mediator, or the leader?

Red flag responses: A candidate showing that they do not successfully work with others is problematic. While most positions have a facet of individual contribution, being able to communicate with and work within a team is vital in most roles.

Green flag responses: Consider your job description and “ideal persona” for your vacancy. If you need a leader and your candidate describes themselves as taking charge, you’re in luck. Candidates who can play the role needed in different scenarios typically make great hires.

A recruiter and hiring manager interviewing a remote candidate with video interview software.

16. Who is the smartest person you know personally? Why?

Why ask this: By asking the interviewee to “sell” someone else, we can learn what aspect of intelligence they value the most. This can then reveal how they aspire to use their own smarts at your company.

Red flag responses: If your interviewee boasts about their wealthy cousin’s “get rich quick” schemes, this might indicate someone who is looking for shortcuts to success.

Green flag responses: A candidate who admires a person for their work. supportive nature, knowledge, or insight likely aspires to these attributes. Their admiration of these qualities will serve your company’s mission. This is your gold star.

17. Describe your relationship with your current colleagues.

Why ask this: We tend to repeat our patterns. How a candidate gets along with their current colleagues indicates how they will fare with their new teammates if you hire them.

Red flag responses: Is your interviewee the lone wolf? Are they always involved in conflict? Do they need to know all the gossip? These can be negative signs.

Green flag responses: Your ideal candidate may display all these red flags and still be a good hire if they are behaving professionally. Conflict, when constructive, may mean they are willing to provide constructive feedback when others aren’t. Chatting with co-workers can be a sign of emotional intelligence and genuine interest in relationship-building.

18. Tell me about a challenge or conflict you overcame at work.

Why ask this: This question reveals your candidate’s interpersonal skills. No one likes conflict, but how they take this on shows how they will behave on your team and how much management they may need.

Red flag responses: Giving up easily, immediately calling in a supervisor, or displaying bitterness about how a problem was resolved are all red flags.

Green flag responses: Your ideal candidate will show they are adaptable, versatile, and communicative. They will display a willingness to brainstorm, listen to others, and compromise.

19. How do you deal with tight deadlines?

Why ask this: Most workers, whether they are restaurant servers or teachers, must deal with impossible deadlines. This question will show you how a potential employee deals with stress and prioritizes.

Red flag responses: A candidate should be able to reference a real experience they had with a deadline and walk you through their choices. You don’t need a flow chart about which meals a server put on the table first, but they should be able to explain how they determined what was most urgent.

Green flag responses: An answer that shows organization, prioritization, and identification of urgency level is a green flag. A specific example works well here. Your candidate should review a list of tasks and do some type of evaluation or prioritization. Requirements and deadlines should be considered, in addition to the amount of time needed to accomplish the tasks.

20. What is your most impressive work achievement?

Why ask this: This question is all about company culture and work ethic.

Red flag responses: If your interviewee is proud that they had $100K in sales at their last job but can’t tell you what steps in the process were accomplishments, this is a concern. You want to understand the before and after of this— how they planned, collaborated, and faced challenges. For all you know, their predecessor handed them a $100K book of business.

Green flag responses: A great answer will show the process, outcome, and skillset used. The candidate will explain how they started, who they worked with, and what they accomplished. An achievement related to your company’s mission, values, or goals is a bonus.

21. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Why ask this: Rising stars have a plan for short, medium, and long-term goals.

Red flag responses: General answers around being promoted and making more money do not show motivation to work hard. Those without any idea what their goals are may not be dedicated to your industry or organization.

Green flag responses: An employee who shares short, medium, and long-term goals that are aligned with your organization’s objectives. When your employees advance, so do you and your company.

HR professionals greeting a candidate before a job interview.

22. What other jobs have you applied for?

Why ask this: If your potential new hire is applying for other positions, are they the same roles as yours? Are they different? What does this show you about what appeals to the candidate?

Red flag responses: If the interviewee is applying for a wide range of positions in various industries, this may indicate they are not certain about what they want in a new job.

Green flag responses: The candidate’s passion for your company’s industry (demonstrated through other applications with similar employers) can show their commitment to this line of work. It can also reveal how aggressive you’ll need to be if competition is tight and you’re hoping to recruit this hire.

23. Have you had any other interviews recently?

Why ask this: This is a good interview question to ask if you want to move forward with more interviews or an offer. It will give you some idea of the candidate’s timeline.

Red flag responses: If your candidate is actively interviewing, think about your window for making a hiring choice. If they are interviewing with a number of employers, will your competition win over your candidate if they are more prepared? If the timeline puts pressure on your decision to make an offer, don’t let haste keep you from being vigilant.

Green flag responses: Understanding your candidate’s timeline for decision-making is key so you don’t miss out.

24. What is the most interesting project you’ve worked on?

Why ask this: This question helps you understand more about your candidate’s current position and work, as well as what interests them about their field.

Red flag responses: If the most interesting work is unrelated to what this interviewee would be doing in your vacant role, this could be a red flag. Will this work really engage them? Will you be able to retain them as an employee?

Green flag responses: Projects that show versatility, collaboration, innovation, and problem-solving skills are a great way for your candidate to demonstrate their skill set (vs. just telling you what skills they possess outright). If they are passionate about the work they do, and your role will offer them the opportunity to do more of what they like, that’s great.

25. What motivates you to work?

Why ask this: This is an opportunity for a potential new hire to share their internal deep thinking. It shows they understand themselves. If your open position or organization is unable to provide that which motivates this candidate, you may be able to avoid a poor hiring choice.

Red flag responses: Surface answers like “I love to be challenged” and “being promoted” are red flags. Candidates should dig deeper and provide examples to show you who they are.

Green flag responses: A personal and genuine answer with specifics is preferable. For example, a candidate who values learning and professional development in a certain area. Ambition is also a good driver here. They may be motivated to learn so they may achieve the next level of position within two years. You will then have to consider if that is realistic for your company.

26. How do you handle a disagreement with a colleague about how to approach a task or project?

Why ask this: No workplace or team is without conflict at some point or another. Putting together a team who can collaborate and work through the conflict creates a better environment for everyone. And it’s vital to your organization’s success.

Red flag responses: A potential new hire who is squeamish to confront a colleague to problem solve is a red flag. Someone too quick to call in their Manager shows a lack of ownership over the work and the problem.

Green flag responses: An ideal new hire will talk about listening to their colleague’s ideas. They will consider those ideas, project goals, big-picture organizational goals, or values. The candidate will calmly share their own ideas, make a pros and cons list and even solicit feedback from stakeholders. They will display ownership and a willingness to do what’s best for the organization, even if it’s harder or not their own idea.

27. Who have you learned the most from?

Why ask this: You will learn about your interviewee’s values with this question. They may reveal some personal experience or relationship that plays an important role for them. This will help you get to know who they are as a whole person, and not just as a potential worker.

Red flag responses: While this is a good opportunity for a candidate to share personal history, the answer should still be relayed professionally. Stories that go on for too long and are unrelated to what the candidate may be able to bring to the table at work are inappropriate.

Green flag responses: Be excited about your potential new hire if they share a personal story that relates to their “why.”

An interviewer practicing active listening while a candidate answers interview questions.

28. What technology/programs are you most comfortable with? How easily are you able to learn new systems?

Why ask this: This question should come up as early as possible in your interview process. Your candidate’s answer will indicate whether they can hit the ground running, whether they are unqualified, or somewhere in between.

Red flag responses: A candidate who can’t express proficiency with your systems or similar technology can be a concern, especially if technology is key to success in your open position. A secretary who can’t book meetings on a shared calendar and a salesperson who has never used a client relationship management system are equally problematic.

Green flag responses: Ideally, your potential new hire understands the technology or industry language in your organization. That said, knowledge can be transferable and one who shows they have been able to tackle learning similar programs or systems in the past is a green flag.

29. Share something about yourself that’s not on your resume.

Why ask this: Learning as much as you can about your potential new hire is important. Everything we need to know is not necessarily represented in a one-page work history.

Red flag responses: If a job seeker’s passions or values are not aligned with your organization’s, there may be a culture-fit issue.

Green flag responses: If your candidate’s answer reinforces why you wanted to interview them in the first place, this is a good sign. Maybe their hobbies or additional work history display further that they will be supportive of your organization’s mission and work.

30. Recall a time when you wished for a “do-over” moment.  What did you learn from that moment and how does it impact what you do now?

Why ask this: Will your potential new employee be able to admit when they are wrong? Will they blame others? Will they learn from the mistake and be able to move forward? Behavioral questions like this one reveal a person’s self-awareness and resiliency.

Red flag responses: If the phrase “not my fault” is part of your candidate’s answer, this is likely not your ideal team player who will work to advance themselves and your department.

Green flag responses: We are not perfect and mistakes will be made! Look for self-reflective answers that show ownership of the mistake, communication with appropriate parties, efforts at problem-solving, and the ability to move past the terrible decision or moment.

31. How often do you expect to receive feedback?

Why ask this: Feedback is important to ensure performance expectations are met. An ideal new hire wants to hear feedback so they can improve.

Red flag responses: A candidate who doesn’t express interest in or the need for feedback may present an issue. Feedback is how we improve. Giving feedback means we care about developing our colleagues and improving the organization. An employee who doesn’t care about feedback may not care about improvement for any of the above.

Green flag responses: An ideal new hire does not want to wait for 90 days to hear feedback. They definitely don’t want to wait six months or a year. A great answer would include asking for consistent feedback to support their growth.

32. How do you set goals?

Why ask this: Driven employees generally set goals. They want to set parameters for success and then work towards achieving success.

Red flag responses: Employees who believe they don’t need goals - or who depend on the organization to set goals for them - are likely not self-starters. They may need more hand-holding and management.

Green flag responses: Your ideal new hire will be able to explain their goal-setting process in detail. They can outline how they determine what their goals are, how they will monitor them, and how they will measure success.

33. What would you do if you realized you were not being effective in meeting the expectations of your role?

Why ask this: This question reveals how your potential new employee receives feedback. Since feedback drives improvement, you need to know whether you (and the hire you make) will be comfortable having candid conversations.

Red flag responses: Employees who take feedback so personally that they become angry can be problematic. Managing a defensive person is difficult and time-consuming.

Green flag responses: There’s nothing wrong with a candidate expressing that negative feedback is upsetting. Great employees often do take work personally as it’s not “just a job” to them. A great answer will show that, even if emotional, they will be open to the conversation and actively seek suggestions for improvement.

34. If you were having a problem with your manager, at what point would you want to involve additional support?

Why ask this: This question will offer information about your potential new hire’s willingness to deal with conflict and their communication skills. It will also show you if they can properly “size” an issue to determine if a third party should be involved.

Red flag responses: An employee who wants to pull in Human Resources immediately every time they have a problem with their manager is a red flag. Mediation should not be required for all issues.

Green flag responses: Look for a candidate who wants to talk directly with their manager to try and resolve the issue. They may refer to the size or seriousness of the issue as playing a role. Not all problems should be handled the same. An allegation of harassment would warrant different support than an ignored request for a new laptop.

Job candidates waiting outside an interview room.

35. How could your knowledge of [the role] benefit our community?

Why ask this: This question speaks to your candidate’s sense of purpose. It shows you whether they are thinking about the impact they could have on the greater population, for the greater good. This could be your team, department, company, community, town, client base, or otherwise.

Red flag responses: A potential new employee who doesn’t see how they can positively impact those around them poses an issue.

Green flag responses: A candidate who can describe their superpower! Maybe they are a flight attendant and their knowledge of how to make someone smile can improve the travel experience for the entire plane. Perhaps they are a teacher and their DEI experience motivates all students to show their whole selves in school.

36. If you will be managing other people, how would you describe your management style?

Why ask this: Hiring for a management role directly affects the team members who will be working with this new manager. It’s important to understand what has worked (and not worked) with that group and your organization as a whole. With this data at hand, you can look for the right leader to step in. According to HR Dive, problematic leadership can often lead to turnover.

Red flag responses: Watch out for someone who thinks they know everything. Do they think they are the answer to all of your organization’s leadership problems? This can alienate your experienced workforce and intimidate your more novice employees.

Green flag responses: Look for someone who has put thought into a 30-day plan and a 90-day plan. They should share how they plan to learn from those who have been with the organization. And they should be clear on their approach to coaching and communicating.

37. What would you do if you disagreed with the reason behind or approach to work you are being assigned by Management?

Why ask this: This question is important because it illustrates how your potential new hire communicates and takes direction. Can they tow the company line?

Red flag responses: Be concerned about a candidate who fights too hard to represent their point of view. Management makes decisions for the bigger picture goals. If being right is more important than meeting the organizational vision, this is problematic.

Green flag responses: A good response will show that the candidate is willing to agree to disagree. Even when they advocate for their perspective, they are able to separate their personal opinions from the task at hand. They can move forward and complete the assignment.

38. How can I, as your manager, best support you?

Why ask this: Is your potential new hire self-aware? Do they know what they need, and are they able to articulate it?  What does successful management look like to them?

Red flag responses: Beware of an interviewee who can’t reflect on how a manager has successfully supported them in the past.

Green flag responses: Your best employees can verbalize what they need and aren’t afraid to help their manager help them with those needs. Whether it’s a weekly check-in, advocacy on a specific project, coaching in a certain area, or offering a flexible schedule - knowing and communicating is key.

39. What efforts have you made, or been involved with, to value diversity, foster cultural proficiency, and increase understanding?

Why ask this: With DEI hiring on the rise, our workforce is becoming more diverse. Understanding how culturally literate your potential new hire is will be increasingly important. Teammates that do not understand or value each other do not work well together.

Red flag responses: A candidate who scoffs at DEI will likely disrespect their co-workers whether overtly or through microaggressions.

Green flag responses: We are all on a lifelong learning journey. The expectation is not that your potential new hire will be completely versed in all things diversity-related. However, an expression of genuine interest in this journey is the key. Gold star for a candidate who answers the professional development question with “DEI!”

40. How do you work with others to accomplish team and organizational goals?

Why ask this: This question reveals how your candidate approaches relationships and collaboration. It also shows how they approach the forest vs. the trees since goals are typically longer-term and bigger-picture.

Red flag responses: Watch out for the candidate who expects management to drive all goal-related initiatives and spoon-feed the team a path to success. Goals are not just a “management thing.”

Green flag responses: Look for a candidate who discusses regularly scheduled meetings, data-driven actions, and bite-sized milestones. Someone who takes ownership and motivates the group is a plus.

41. What do you consider an ideal working relationship?

Why ask this: According to Gallup, having friendships at work is directly related to employee engagement. Asking this question shows you how vested your potential new hire is in relationship building at work. Which could be an indicator of how happy they will be and how long they will stay.

Red flag responses: Even if your new hire will be working independently most of the time, it is concerning if they do not understand the basic tenets of a good working relationship.

Green flag responses: Trust, respect, inclusion, and communication are key to relationships. This applies at work and at home! A candidate who shows they are willing to work on developing relationships, even with people they dislike, is ideal.

42. What is your ideal workspace?

Why ask this: Consider whether your potential new employee’s ideal workspace works with what your organization has set up.

Red flag responses: Is your candidate expecting an office with a door? Does your company only offer communal cube space? Is their ideal space at home, and you don’t offer WFH options?

Green flag responses: A flexible employee who can work in an open area, in an office, or at home is ideal.

43. How would you address a disagreement with another staff member or client?

Why ask this: Does your candidate actively listen? Do they respect their colleagues and clients? Does success in a disagreement mean they always end in compromise? Are they willing to be persuaded in service of consensus?

Red flag responses: An interviewee who calls in their manager too quickly is a red flag. Likewise, if they have to avoid the colleague they disagreed with to cool off for a while, this might also be a problematic hire. While work can be very personal, it is important that disagreements are resolved and grudges abandoned.

Green flag responses: A candidate who can find common ground to get the conversation going is a good sign. Another great sign is if they can share experiences with values-based conversations to resolve conflict. For example, “I know we are both trying to accomplish the best service for our client even though we disagree on how.”

A job candidate answering pre-screening interview questions via a phone interview.

44. What professional development do you need or want most urgently?

Why ask this: Ask this to learn whether your potential new employee can hit the ground running in your position. It will also reveal how your candidate thinks about their knowledge base. In what areas do they want to improve? What are they interested in?

Red flag responses: If your interviewee’s urgent development need is listed in the first five job duties in your job ad, be concerned. And if they express wanting to learn more about painting and you’re hiring an accountant, this could also be a red flag. Ideally, they want to learn in order to enhance the role they play in your organization.

Green flag responses: It’s a great sign if your candidate is interested in elevating their knowledge and advancing their skills - especially if it will help them succeed in your open position.

45. Describe your strategies for dealing with change and working with individuals moving through change.

Why ask this: Change is hard. Change is constant. Change isn’t going anywhere. All employees in all fields must be able to adapt. This question will help understand your candidate’s experience with and feelings about change.

Red flag responses: If your interviewee describes feelings of resistance and frustration, this is a red flag. While many people feel that way about change, an interview is not an opportunity to vent. This shows they are stuck and feeling victimized by change - an indicator of how they will deal with change in your organization.

Green flag responses: Interviewees who can reference major changes they have experienced at work with positivity are a green light. Even better is if they have led any of the change management efforts or acted as a culture champion.

46. If money was no object, how would you spend your time?

Why ask this: This is a “get to know more about you” question to understand your interviewee’s values and interests.

Red flag responses: Beware if the response shows that your candidate’s values change when money isn’t a factor. Let’s say you are hiring for an administrative role at an animal rights organization. If your candidate won the lottery and wants to start a hunting adventure company, this is likely not a good match.

Green flag responses: Many people work in areas they are passionate about. If you are hiring a nurse, and your candidate shares that they would volunteer for Doctors Without Borders, this is a good sign. It shows you their values and interests are still aligned, regardless of the paycheck.

47. Is there anything else you need to know about us or the position that we haven’t shared?

Why ask this: Asking this question will reveal if your candidate has any concerns about your organization or the position.

Red flag responses: Watch out if your interviewee asks questions unrelated to the job and organization. They shouldn’t be asking you about your family, religious ties, or political views.

Green flag responses: Asking what your favorite and least favorite parts of working for your organization shows the candidate is strongly considering joining you.

48. We’ve asked you a lot of questions today. Is there anything you were expecting we would ask that we didn’t?

Why ask this: This is a really important question! Asking it gives your candidate an opportunity to share something they want to make sure you know about them. It shows you what is significant to them.

Red flag responses: “I thought you’d ask about my convictions.” -comment: Please explain why this is not a desirable answer.

Green flag responses: A response that allows the candidate to showcase additional skills, talent, or experience is great. This shows they are trying to put their best foot forward and set themselves apart (and ahead) of their competition.

49. What are your salary expectations?

Why ask this: Pay transparency laws in California, Colorado and a few other states are now forcing many organizations to publish good faith salary ranges as a part of the talent acquisition process. In some cases, this means your candidate’s expectations of salary fell within your range (or they wouldn’t have applied). But maybe the range was wide. Or your candidate won’t accept anything below the top of the range. It’s best to get on the same page before additional interviews and reference checks come into play.

Red flag responses: If your candidate’s expectations are higher than what you’re able to pay and they are firm, this is likely a deal breaker.

Green flag responses: A candidate with expectations in your range is ideal. A candidate who is willing to negotiate a creative compensation package if the salary is lower than expected is also a good sign. Perhaps more vacation time or a flexible work schedule can seal the deal.

50. What questions do you have for me?

Why ask this: A potential employee seriously considering your opportunity will have questions for you.

Red flag responses: If your potential new hire only has surface questions about compensation, parking, vacation days, or likelihood of promotion, be cautious. - comment: What if all their serious questions were addressed in the interview? Is it better if a candidate has no questions?

Green flag responses: A serious candidate will have serious questions. They may be about company culture, your team, the hiring process, and expectations of the role. They may follow up on these deeper questions with inquiries about compensation or company policy. This is not a concern when combined with those more significant queries that show real consideration.

In addition to the best interview questions to ask listed above, check out these recommended interview questions by category.

A candidate for a job displaying signs of great interpersonal skills and teamwork.

10 Interview Questions about Teamwork

1. Do you prefer working with a team or working independently?

2. When working with a group, what is the role you typically play?

3. What has been the most challenging aspect of working with team members who have backgrounds that differ from yours? How have you addressed that challenge?

4. Have you worked with a dysfunctional team? How did you become functional and complete the task at hand?

5. What makes good teamwork?

6. Tell me about a rewarding team experience.

7. How would you handle a team member who is not doing their share of the work or not meeting deadlines?

8. What is the biggest disadvantage of teamwork?

9. What is the difference between a good team member and a great team member?

10. What do you think are the three most important characteristics of a great team member?

10 Interview Questions to Assess Culture Fit

1. What about your background makes you more/less likely to fit into this community?

2. What do you think are the advantages/obstacles of working with people who have backgrounds that are different from yours?

3. How will you contribute to our culture?

4. What does diversity mean to you?

5. What surprises people about you?

6. What does a successful company culture look like to you?

7. What is your ideal work schedule?

8. Given what you know at this point, what would you change about our hiring process or our business model?

9. Tell us about your experience with culturally responsive and sustainable practices.

10. What kinds of events or programs have you planned, or been involved in, that engage conversations on social justice, equity, and inclusion?

A candidate for a job displaying problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

10 Interview Questions about Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking

1. Tell me about a time when you recognized a problem or a challenge within your work and then did something about it.

2. Tell us about how you analyze information or data. How does data support your recommendations?

3. Tell me about a specific project you felt you were really successful at. How do you know it was so successful? What would you do differently if you had to do it again? Why was that project important?

4. Tell me about a project that didn’t go so well.  Why did it fail?  Once it failed, what were your next steps?

5. Can you talk about a time when you discovered new information that affected a decision you had made already? How did you proceed?

6. Describe a stressful work situation you’ve had. How did you resolve that situation?

7. You make a big mistake at work. Once you learn about it, what are your next steps?

8. What is your special sauce for productivity?

9. Define excellent customer service.

10. How do you deal with situations where you cannot find a solution?

10 Interview Questions about Communication

1. Give an example of a piece of constructive feedback that was received in a previous job. How did you respond to the feedback?

2. How do you build rapport with clients and colleagues?

3. How would you explain a complex situation/problem to an already frustrated client or colleague?

4. If I were your client, how and when would I hear from you?

5. What are your expectations for communication with your manager?

6. Tell me about a time that you repaired a relationship that started off on the wrong foot.

7. Tell me about a time when you received feedback on your performance and you disagreed with the feedback. How did you handle the situation?

8. How do you build a rapport with your colleagues? Why is that important?

9. How do you work with people who have a different perspective or priorities than you?

10. How would you characterize your communication style?

A job candidate displaying leadership acumen in front of a hiring panel at a job interview.

10 Interview Questions about Leadership

1. What was the toughest call you have had to make in your career or life experience?  How did you handle it? What was the outcome? Would you do anything differently?

2. Tell me about a time when you offered feedback to a colleague. What did you say, and how did the conversation go?

3. Tell me about a time when you were able to delegate an important task that succeeded.

4. Have you ever mentored someone? Tell me about that experience.

5. What makes a great mentor?

6. Describe a time when a direct report approached you with concerns. How did you handle the situation?

7. Tell me about a situation when you had to build trust or credibility with stakeholders.

8. Do you know of any upcoming changes in our industry (or otherwise) that may cause a disruption? How do you propose we address these challenges?

9. What or who has challenged you most as a leader? What, if anything, did you change about yourself, your work style, or your approach? How did the challenge improve your leadership?

10. Share a time when you made a decision that involved great risk. What was the situation and the result?

10 Interview Questions about Work Ethic

1. What does having a good work ethic mean to you?

2. How do you define hard work?

3. What does work-life balance mean to you? How do you accomplish this?

4. Tell us about a time that you identified a need and went above and beyond the call of duty to get things done.

5. How do you stay motivated?

6. What do you do at work when things are slow and you have downtime?

7. A co-worker is having a hard time with work and/or their manager. Because you have a friendly relationship, they confide in you. The confiding turns to complaining and starts to take up a lot of your time, negatively impacting your productivity. How do you handle this?

8. Tell me about a time when it was difficult to be honest because of the situation. What was your thought process?

9. Is there a time when a teammate or client questioned your honesty? How did you react?

10. What type of work environment encourages you to work harder?

8 Interview Questions about Flexibility

1. Describe a time when you showed flexibility.

2. How do you deal with change?

3. Walk me through a time when you had to adapt to major change within your organization.

4. Have you worked with colleagues who resisted change and demanded to continue with the old way of doing things? How did you handle that?

5. Tell me about a time when you identified a need for change and led that effort.

6. You are almost finished with a report that your supervisor requested. It has been a difficult and time-consuming project. Management is now asking for different information, which means you might as well start all over. How do you feel? How do you react?

7. Have you ever been in a situation where you had to motivate others to take action to support a major reorganization? How did you handle that?

8. If you were not assigned to the same work location or desk each day, would this impact your work?

7 Interview Questions about Spirituality

1. Who do you consider a mentor in your professional life? Why? How have they influenced your path?

2. What do you lean on when life gets hard?

3. What is one thing you would like to be remembered for?

4. What is your greatest fear?

5. What is more important to you - money or success?

6. Have you ever stolen anything?

7. What is your personal mission statement?

A hiring team discussing a job candidate's teamwork skills after an interview.

10 Interview Questions about Collaboration

1. Tell us about a time when you were a member of a collaborative team.  What did that look like?  What was your role?

2. Describe a time when a co-worker was not pulling their weight on a project you co-owned. What did you do?

3. Can you give me an example of an effective client relationship you fostered in your previous experience?  What did it look like?

4. What do you find most frustrating in working with other people?

5. What would others say is frustrating about working with you?

6. Tell me about a collaborative relationship you forged with a colleague in your last job.  What did it look like?  How often did you interact?

7. Think about a time when you were advised by a superior or co-worker in the past. How did you feel about someone criticizing work that you had put a lot of energy into? What was your response? How did you handle the advice you were given?

8. What kind of management do you work best under?

9. Talk about a time you presented a great idea to management but there wasn’t a buy-in. What was your next move? Did you change their minds?

10. Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a coworker. How did you resolve the situation?

8 Interview Questions about Time Management

1. How do you deal with tight deadlines?

2. What is your work style under pressure?

3. How do you manage your daily and weekly schedule?

4. How do you prioritize projects?

5. Have you ever worked on multiple projects at the same time? How did you manage your time and what were the results?

6. Think about a time when you were overwhelmed and stressed at work. How did you handle it?

7. How do you estimate a reasonable time to complete a task?

8. What would you do if you were almost finished with a project that you had worked hard on when suddenly the goals or priorities were changed?

29 Unique and Creative Job Interview Questions

1. Describe a time when you had to measure the success of a workplace change or campaign. What were your steps and ultimate findings?

2. Imagine that you receive $50,000 and have one month to implement a major organizational change. What project do you choose and what approach do you employ?

3. You ask for $5,000 to solve a problem, but upper management only allocates $1,000 for your solution. Explain your next steps.

4. Describe a time you failed and had to alter course and adopt a new approach. How did you know change was necessary? What actions did you take? What was the result?

5. What do you think are the most important elements to consider when making a decision in our industry?

6. Imagine you need to implement a new system that you do not have much experience with. What steps do you take to gather information and ensure successful execution?

7. What is the most difficult lesson you have had to learn thus far?

8. What piece of critical feedback do you receive most often?

9. If you could redo your career, what would you change?

10. What have been your most positive and negative management experiences?

11. Walk me through your approach to workplace conflict.

12. What is the farthest out of your comfort zone you have been while on the job?

13. Give me an example of a time when you had to think or react quickly in response to a delicate situation.

14. How do you deal with failure?

15. Give an example where feedback forced you to significantly alter the way you completed your work

16. Tell us about a goal you set for your own professional development.  Why did you choose that goal?  What was the result?

17. How will you measure your own success in this role? 

18. What kind of impact do you want to have in a year? Have you had this kind of impact on previous employers in your past roles?

19. How do you model acceptance and appreciation for different ideas, opinions, learning, and linguistic styles? Please provide examples.

20. What does it mean to be a good (job title)? How might I see that in you?

21. Why is your job important?

22. What support do you anticipate needing in this new role? How will you make sure when you need these supports that you use them?

23. What have you read, either professionally or personally, that has had an impact on your work life?

24. What makes an ideal coworker?

25. If you had complete authority over your own professional development, what would you want to focus on this year and why?

26. Was there a time you were passed over for promotion? Why? Was it fair?

27. What is your superpower?

28. What is the first thing you do on most days?

29. What advice would you give to someone starting out in your career?

21 Good Interview Questions to Ask for Evaluating Strategic Thinking

1. This list of questions helps hiring managers and recruiters evaluate a candidate’s ability to think through issues thoroughly and intelligently. General red flags in these responses will reveal a lack of leadership, difficulty making decisions, decision-making without proper analysis, or lack of consideration of consequences.

2. What challenges do you anticipate working with our organization?

3. What would your first 30 days in this role look like?

4. Tell me about your 90-day plan if we hire you.

5. How do you define strategic thinking?

6. Why is strategic thinking important for an organization’s future?

7. How much time per week or month do you think is ideal to invest in strategic planning?

8. How do you inform your team and other departments within your company about your or your team’s strategic decisions?

9. Describe a time when you proactively identified and addressed an issue at your company.

10. How do you set long-term goals for your team? How often do you check and review these goals?

11. Describe a time when you failed to achieve your goals. How did you adjust your approach?

12. What are the key factors you take into consideration when building an action plan?

13. How do you measure a strategy’s effectiveness?

14. How do you approach long-term planning?

15. How does your approach to short-term planning differ from your approach to long-term planning?

16. Tell me about a time when you made a mistake at work. How did you handle the situation?

17. Describe a stressful situation you’ve faced at work. How did you manage it?

18. Tell me about a time when you set a goal for yourself. How were you able to achieve it?

19. What would you do if you were assigned to work with a colleague on a project, and you just couldn’t seem to agree on anything?

20. How would you handle an instance of receiving criticism from a superior?

21. Think about your last performance review. What areas did your supervisor highlight for improvement?  Do you agree or disagree?  What areas do you think you need improvement in? Did you do anything specific to address these issues?

A hiring panel asking behavioral interview questions in a video interview.

24 Behavioral Interview Questions

1. Behavioral Interview questions help interviewers gauge a potential new hire’s behavior as it relates to skills, abilities, and knowledge. These are good interview questions to ask interviewees as a response requires them to pose scenarios to show specific experiences.

2. Have you been able to make a positive impact on another colleague’s performance?  What was the specific situation and how did you accomplish that?

3. Tell me about a time when you had to manage multiple responsibilities.  How did you manage everything?  Is there anything you felt slipped through the cracks or didn’t get done?

4. How would you handle your schedule if you had interruptions which caused you to run late?

5. Have you ever chosen not to comply with company policy to satisfy a client?

6. Describe a time when you handled a challenge at work successfully.

7. You start a new position, and the training is disorganized and unproductive. What do you do?

8. What regrets do you have from your previous job?

9. Think about a time when you and a colleague or stakeholder disagreed. How did you try to persuade them to see your point of view? Did you succeed?

10. Describe a situation when you had to deliver bad news to someone. What did you do to prepare? How did the conversation go?

11. Describe a time when you were forced to compromise. How did it turn out?

12. Describe a time when you exhausted all possibilities but still failed to achieve your goal. In hindsight, why were you unsuccessful? What would you do differently?

13. Tell me about a time when you made a mistake. How has this experience changed your approach?

14. Provide an example of when you were assigned a task outside your normal job duties. How did you feel about getting the assignment? How did you know what to do? Were you successful?

15. Talk about a task that had a major obstacle. How did you get around that obstacle to complete your task?

16. What is the biggest change you’ve experienced? How did you adapt?

17. Describe a time when you had to work with a difficult personality. How did you manage your interactions?

18. Provide an example of a time when you followed a rule or implemented a process that you didn’t agree with. Why did you follow it? How did you feel?

19. Tell me about a time when a project’s priorities changed midstream. Explain the steps you took to start the change.

20. Think about a time when you discovered a co-worker doing something incorrectly. What did you do?

21. Describe a situation when your manager was unavailable, and a problem arose. How did you handle the problem?  What were the results?

22. Tell me about the last time you asked for direct feedback from your manager. Why did you request feedback? What did you do with the feedback provided?

23. What is the last big career goal that you achieved?

24. Tell me about a time when you needed information from a colleague who was not responsive to your request. How did you ask and how often? What was the result?


Ultimately, the best interview questions to ask a potential new employee are those that highlight the kind of person they are and produce the answers you need to make a hiring decision. Writing the perfect job posting and knowing what is required is the foundation of this task.

Jodie Sandell PHR and SHRM-CP
Consultant, project manager, writer, and process improver with over 15 years of HRM experience
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Jodie Sandell holds a BA in Sociology from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, a paralegal certificate and both PHR and SHRM-CP certifications. She has spent most of her career working in legal, education, and HR - writing, managing projects, and improving processes. 

She recently founded All In Project Services LLC to pursue her passion for this work. In her free time, Jodie can be found reading, hiking, paddling or traveling with her family.

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