An interview is nothing more than a formality unless an employer asks insightful questions. Additionally, key questions to ask during an interview should do more than require an applicant to list bullets off their resume. The questions should establish the character of the individual, and distinguish their key strengths and weaknesses from other applicants.

Good general questions that help establish an applicant’s character in an interview include:

Is the Applicant Honest and Open to Improvement?

One classic interview question is – “From any point in your career, identify a weakness of yours and describe how you corrected or overcame this weakness.” Not only does this force the applicant to be honest and look at their performance as a whole, it also helps to identify individuals who are self-aware and able to take corrective action.

Is the Applicant an Innovator?

“When in your previous positions or experience did you innovate your role?” An applicant who answers well would indicate that they are the kind of person who is not only autonomous, but will become more valuable as time progresses either by making improvement to themselves or their job processes.

How is the Applicant’s Work Ethic?

Most people think they have great work ethic but this key question will help you frame how they view work – “Describe a time in your life when you were the most productive. Describe a time in your life when you were the least productive.” What will be interesting about the answers is that an individual’s perspective of productivity will change based on their impression of what hard work is.

Deeper Drive

It’s important to also know how candidates view themselves outside of work – “Not taking into account professional or academic accolades – what achievements, accomplishments, or awards did you find most gratifying?” This is one of the most important questions to ask during an interview because it dives beyond the resume into what matters to the candidate: be it success, monetary gain, team dedication, etc.


To have someone be a great fit for your team, you need to evaluate more than just technical skills. To be a truly successful leader, the people you hire need to work well together and align with the culture and values of your organization.