Crowd Sourcing: What is the best interview question you have ever been asked?

by Evil HR Lady on April 2, 2016

When you were a job candidate. what is the best question a hiring manager/HR person/other person on the hiring panel ever asked you? Why was it a great question?

Answer in the comments or send me an email at evilhrlady@gmail.com

Looking forward to hearing your questions!

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Hubbard April 2, 2016 at 2:21 pm

To be fair, I cannot think of a good question I’ve ever been asked in an interview. What has always worked for me is asking a variant of this question as soon as I can, “If I started working here tomorrow and was a smashing success, what would I be accomplishing in the next 90 days? What about the next six months?”

Once I get an honest answer, I can start tailoring answers to their needs. And if I get told, “We ask questions and you don’t,” then I know it’s an organization in crisis and the job is a booby trap.

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Keith M April 3, 2016 at 10:45 pm

I concur. I’ve seen people conducting interviewers get lazier in their approach since the recession. I can tell most didn’t prepare at all for the interview, so usually ended up leading the conversations during my last interview. Not in a controlling way, but in a “this is going to be really awkward watching you think of things to ask for an hour” way.

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Dave Gordon April 2, 2016 at 6:21 pm

“What makes you angry?” It made me think about how I apply my personal values in a work situation.

“Have you remained close with any former colleagues from past jobs?” It made me reflect on how shallow my work relationships have been.

“What’s the difference between a ’rounding error’ and a cost overrun?” The man who was going to hire me had used the dismissive phrase ’rounding error’ at least twice in his conversations with me, so when his manager asked this, I realized he wanted to know if I would challenge my boss.

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Ganiat Orimadegun April 2, 2016 at 8:43 pm

Dear Mr. Gordon,

Nice comment.

So is it good to challenge the hiring manager or not?

A friend of mine once challenged the Boss in an interview and the Boss thought she was too forward.

Please advise.

Thank you.

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mer April 4, 2016 at 12:41 pm

I’m not Mr Gordon, but I think it depends on how one does the challenging.
Saying “I think your position is the most idiotic thing I’ve ever heard” would be the wrong way to challenge someone.
Saying something like “In my experience a better way of doing that would be …” is nonconfrontational, shows your basis for the statement (in my experience) and allows further conversation.
But that’s my opinion.

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Ganiat Orimadegun March 27, 2017 at 12:03 pm

Thank you very much.

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Keith M April 3, 2016 at 10:43 pm

The majority of interviews I’ve met have no clue how to interview and ask aimless questions. However, I did like one from my last job search, where he told me pretend the room’s walls were actually a box, and if a line had to be drawn from the upper left, back corner to the upper right front corner, what would be the shortest path? Sounds easy, but when I put it on paper, I drew different paths and there were more ways to get corner-to-corner, of different lengths, that I had first thought.

He also asked how I would remove all holidays and weekends and last Fridays of the month from a list 50 years long, assuming it was something that couldn’t be done by hand.

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Steve Browne April 3, 2016 at 11:33 pm

Suzanne – The best question I’ve ever been asked was – “How would your integrate HR throughout our Company?” – I was floored by it because this showed how the company I was considering viewed the value of HR. I like questions that press in on people.

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Mettl April 4, 2016 at 11:48 am

Who would you have saved first if your last company premises caught a fire?

It got me thinking. A lot. It made me think beyond conventional work relationships and pushed me to think about who were my friends at the last workplace. Brilliant question!

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Adrienne April 4, 2016 at 3:41 pm

What do you think would be your biggest challenge in this role? How would you struggle most to get up to speed?

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Mark Love April 4, 2016 at 4:02 pm

The last question during a panel interview was: You are driving a two seat car on a dark and rainy night through a mid sized city with unreliable public transportation. Stopping at a red light, you see three people in a bus shelter, waiting for the next bus. One is a little old lady. One is your old friend from high school who once saved your life. The third is your ideal soul mate, the person you’ve been searching your whole life for. Knowing there is only room for two people in your car, what do you do?

My response was to give the keys to my high school friend, and tell him to take the little old lady wherever she wanted to go. I would wait in the bus shelter and get to know my potential soul mate.

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Tiffany Soles April 4, 2016 at 6:14 pm

Great question….AWESOME answer, Mark!

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LSvoboda April 4, 2016 at 5:27 pm

I’m not sure it is the “best question” but it is the only one I remember more than 20-years later: “If you were a water main cover salesman why would round covers be better than square covers?” I was interviewing for a Call Center Operations Manager position 2-years out of college. I can’t remember my answer but I did get the job and asked what the right answer was supposed to be. It was tradition and financially less expensive to stick with round versus square. Also that square covers could fall in when placed diagonal corner/corner.

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Stephanie April 6, 2016 at 5:41 pm

This actually comes from being on the other side of the table, but there are two valuable questions that I ask that tell me a lot about the self-awareness and business awareness of the candidate:

Tell me about your best boss/worse boss.

Tell me about the most valuable criticism you’ve ever received.

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Kate Neilson April 12, 2016 at 3:12 pm

2 questions spring to mind – both related to culture. #1) “If you were independently wealthy and didn’t have to work for a living, what would you do?” and #2) “What’s your theme song?” I continue to ask these questions when interviewing — usually save them for last — but they provide a tremendous gateway into what truly makes a person tick.

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Mr. Cajun2core August 7, 2018 at 4:15 pm

We believe in teamwork here. What is your definition of “teamwork”.

My answer, “Never saying, ‘That’s not my job’. “

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