15 Interview Questions that Uncover Talent

Traditional interview questions oriented around performance, duties and responsibility are important, but the answers often obscure a person’s commitment or emotional intelligence required for the job. By asking new questions, you’ll be amazed at what you can find out. The findings can help you make better hiring decisions, lower turnover and significantly reduce hiring costs significantly.


Here are behavioral-based, legal, gender-friendly questions designed to flush out the deeper and more complex behaviors and thinking patterns of a candidate for hire.

  1. What question do you have for me right away?
  1. What would really surprise me about you? What else?
  1. What’s your real motivation to change jobs? No, the real reason (test, re-test).
  1. What’s your philosophy on goal setting?
  1. What reading material would I find on your coffee table?
  1. Tell me a story about when you found yourself in an ethical dilemma and what happened?
  1. How did you earn money while in college?
  1. How far away from home have you traveled? (Have a map on your desk.)
  1. Draw me a pie chart showing how you spend an eight-hour day.
  1. Are you a curious person? If so, show me an example.
  1. What’s your favorite success story? What’s your favorite failure story?
  1. What should I have asked you that I haven’t?
  1. Do you want to be a millionaire? Why? What are you doing to prepare for it?
  1. Are you ready to resign from your job in 5 days? What will your employer do when you quit? What do you think they will say about you after you’ve left?
  1. Have you ever created a 30, 60, 90-day strategic plan for your job or a future job? (Well, today’s their lucky day.)


Research shows that more than 75% of executives today lack any formal interviewing training. The consequences of weak interview skills are lasting and sometimes unrecognizable until it’s too late. The wrong people get hired, or great talent is overlooked. Utilize these 15 questions to your company’s advantage and hire candidates who are truly right for the job.


Editor’s Note: For more interview questions, see the related article Interpreting the Answers to 15 Interview Questions.


Russ Riendeau , Ph.D. has been in the executive search business since 1985. From 1976-1985 he built homes for Lexington Homes and started a small company that did house painting and general repair work. He’s written five books in the last 12 years and does public speaking and workshops using live music.  He is a Vistage speaker and Senior Partner of The East Wing Search Group. He’s also the co-author of a new book, “The CEOs Guide to Talent Acquisition.” 

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