The interviewing process is inherently flawed as it requires an organization, within a matter of a few hours or less, to make a hiring decision that has long term consequences. The same is true on the other side of the table; the candidate has limited information on which to base a life-changing choice.

The best the supervisor can hope for is to ask compelling questions that reveal nuances and truths about the candidate, and to learn insights beyond the superficial and standard answers. Toward that end, I have compiled a list of 70 interview questions that I have used throughout my career. These are general questions from which you can pick and choose, and of course pair with questions that are job-specific. They can also provide some interesting answers when used as ice breakers at staff meetings or in conversation with mentees.

The questions may also help those who are preparing for interviews. While there is no way to formulate answers to everything, as a candidate, it does help to review sample questions in advance and consider potential answers. Even if you aren’t asked the exact question, the principle behind it will likely be raised.

These questions have been compiled over time, by making notes on good questions that others ask or that I have been asked. I’d encourage you to keep your own list and add to this one. The stakes are high in the hiring process, and it is always worth the extra effort to make the outcome the best it can be.

What’s your favorite interview question? I’d love for you to share it and I’ll add it to my list!

beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

1 comment

  1. Thanks for sharing beth! I had a situation today and actually thought of you- do you have a list of competencies someone should have if they are supervising? I know NACA puts out general competencies but I have a direct report that is looking to create a performance goal of becoming a better supervisor this year. Instead of just guessing, I thought you might have a suggestion of where you look for a list of professional supervision competencies. Thanks! -Courtney,


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