Terry Thompson, Surrey, BC, CYBF Mentor, tesh@shaw.ca

Managing Corporate Culture article series

As an interviewer, it can be challenging to determine whether the candidate is a good fit for the position and your organization. But knowing the right questions to ask will help you get to know the candidate and decide whether there is a match.

After conducting dozens of interviews for many different positions, I determined that of the countless questions ones can ask, the ones below form the foundation of a solid job interview.

Referring to the candidate’s résumé, I would ask the following questions for each company he/she worked for and/or position held in the last ten years (less if they were younger or more if I felt it was warranted).

  1. How did you obtain the job? (Note the names and contact details of key people who were involved.)
  2. What did you like and dislike about the job and company? (Ask for examples.)
  3. What were the accomplishments that you were most proud of? (Determine what their role was in the accomplishment. Ask for names and contact details of other key people involved. Compare these accomplishments to what the position with your company requires.)
  4. What were your worst mistake(s), how did they happen and how did you react to/ learn from them? (Ask for names and contact details of other key people involved.)
  5. Who did you report to (names and contact details)? What did you like and dislike most about them? (Ask for examples.)
  6. In your annual review (assuming that you had one) what were your key strengths and weaknesses? Were examples given supporting this feedback? Did you agree with the assessment?
  7. Why did you leave the company or change positions?
  8. Who are your references and why did you include them in your list? Tell me about them and what role they have played in your life? (If there have been other key people mentioned in answers to the above questions ask why they have not been included in the list.)

In my experience, an interview can last between one and three hours. The questions above are designed to provide you with significant insight into the candidate’s experience and personality. If you are patient and listen carefully to the answers, you will have a number of other questions that will allow you to dig even deeper. Remember, the candidate must prove to you that he/she deserves the position with your company.

Should have any questions or feedback regarding the content of this article please email me (Terry Thompson) at tesh@shaw.ca.


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