7 Brilliant Interview Questions the Best of the Best Are Asking


The perfect candidate is elusive, a dream, fiction, but it doesn’t stop us from trying to find them which is probably why 95% of companies make hiring mistakes every year that cost them tens of thousands of dollars.

According to research by Brandon Hall Group, 69% of companies believe a flawed interview process has the biggest impact on the quality of new hires brought on. As more traditional interview questions like, “What are your biggest strengths?” and “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” are being phased out, creative, thought-provoking ones are taking their place. But, how do you know which ones help to find the best candidates? Or maybe more importantly, how to avoid a bad hire?

We sought out the opinions of some of today’s most successful leaders to bring you seven unique job interview questions being asked today.

1. “What single project or task would you consider the most significant accomplishment in your career to date?”

Recruiting expert, Lou Adler, believes this is the only interview question that really matters. Asking this unique interview question invites the candidate to share a positive experience honestly and opens a world of opportunity for the interviewer to dive deeper with direct, follow-up questions about things like their thought process, any technical skills they used or what the results of this project were.

Tweet This: .@LouA believes this is the only interview question that really matters:

2. “Tell me something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.”

This job interview question is always asked by PayPal co-founder, Peter Thiel, with the intention of eliciting an honest response in an uncomfortable context. In a world where transparency is quickly becoming King, this question throws it right back at the candidate. If you are going to ask this question, we recommend telling candidates ahead of time, perhaps on your careers page or interview introductory email.

Tweet This: How PayPal co-founder, Peter Thiel elicits honest responses in uncomfortable context during interviews:

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3. “Why shouldn’t I hire you?”

Jay Gould, CEO and founder of Yashi, believes this job interview question helps to assess a candidate’s cultural fit and gives a glimpse into their true character. Gould explains, “How they answer the question is just as, if not more, important than the answer itself.” Placing the question in a negative context forces candidates to reveal insight into their integrity, a cornerstone of strong work ethic. While this can be a risk, it does underscore the importance of helping candidates self-select OUT of your process.


4. “What have you done professionally that you’ve succeeded at, but isn’t an experience you’d want to repeat?”

Hubspot’s VP of Global Customer Support, Michael Redbord, uses this unique interview question to get a peek at a candidate’s work values and thought process. The point of this question is to elicit an emotional response from the candidate, but then listen to them explain the logic behind their feelings, paying attention to any red flags that reveal a poor work ethic or bad attitude.


5. “Tell me about a time when you almost gave up, how you felt about that, and what you did instead of giving up?”

CEO of Sonatype, Wayne Jackson, uses this interview question to learn more about the things potential candidates do outside of work, if they have the drive it takes to fit into the company culture and if and how they are able to overcome challenges. What makes this question even more unique is its ability to get the candidate to open up about a negative experience and follow it up with what is hopefully a positive outcome.

Tweet This: Try these strategic interview questions proven to work by the pros themselves:

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6. “What makes you get out of bed in the morning?”

Brad Jefferson, CEO and co-founder of Animoto, uses this interview question to get to know a candidate’s passions, what makes them tick. Asking this kind of question provides the interviewer with opportunities to not only find out some personal details about the candidate, but reveal potentially hidden talents not currently being examined for the job at hand.


7. “What’s your story?”

Managing partner at Finn Partners, Richard Funess, asks this question to gauge a candidate’s comfort level when answering a difficult question. “If they act defensive, look uncomfortable, and pause longer than a few seconds, it tells me they probably take things too literally and are not broad thinkers,” Funess explains. It also gives the candidate a chance to market their abilities and background in a way that is creative and engaging.

It’s a competitive market out there, but that doesn’t mean hiring managers should stop asking tough or revealing questions. Remember, candidates are evaluating you too and the kind of candidates you likely want are the ones who invite the challenging interview questions. And if you’re wondering how to avoid a bad hire, interview questions are a great place to start. What unique interview questions are you asking?

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