34 Interview Questions To Ask If You Want Employees With The Right Traits

Jon Clark

Teamwork wins every single day, and that’s what happens when you’re able to assemble the right set of people.

There are many good traits you should be looking for, no one has it all so you alone can decide which is essential for your business.

Here are some of these traits and questions to ask to confirm that prospective employees have them:

1. They Should Be Team Players

Team players radiate positive energy and lift productivity in the workspace.

Here are some questions to ask to find team players:

Question 1: What do you mean when you say you’re a team player?

With this question, you’re trying to look at their idea of the concept. You should check if they actually enjoy teamwork even when they’re just members and not leaders.

Do they like being told what to do or they prefer a situation where they can contribute too?

Can they provide any examples of when they delivered a project with teamwork?

Some interviewees may have the wrong idea of what it means to be a team player and you should check that.

Question 2: Do you prefer working on your own?

Let’s face it. Teamwork is not ideal for every project. Some projects will move faster if everyone works on their part with no interaction among them.

So a common answer to that question will be “yes, sometimes.”

But you don’t want someone who loathes teamwork in all circumstances.

Question 3: Have you ever disagreed with team members?

There’s bound to be a bit of friction especially when people work in a team. So there’s nothing wrong if your interviewee gives reports of some healthy conflict from their experience.

Conflicts aren’t bad, you just need to check how they handle them.

Questions around if they were able to go ahead with the project and how the relationship with that colleague turned out after the incident are important.

Question 4: What’s your experience with virtual teams?

Technology has made workspaces transverse national borders so it’s not strange to see teamwork on different project management platforms, and that experience is just as valid.

It’s a good way to gauge how they managed the stress they developed due to possible language and time barriers.

Questions 5: Do you have any friends at work?

A yes or no answers here will do depending on the situation.

If their company culture is one that promotes friendships, you should find out why they don’t have any.

And if the culture encourages employees to keep their private lives separate, it’d explain why they may not have made any friends.

2. They Should Be Self-motivated

If your business values employees that can work with little direction, you’d need behavioral questions to expose such talent.

Here are some questions to ask:

Question 6: Have you ever missed a deadline?

When people are working on different projects with multiple deadlines, it’s possible they’d miss one or two of those so a positive answer to this question is nothing strange.

But what you should be checking is how they handled the missed deadline. Was it something they immediately rescheduled and delivered ‘cause that’s a good sign or did it make them lose their drive ‘cause that’s not good.

And it’s okay for people to report feeling down as a result of a missed deadline, you just don’t want it to be something common.

Question 7: Can you talk about an idea you started that improved the business?

You’d discover that interviewees who take the initiative are always trying to sell their ideas to the rest of the team.

Find out how they inspired belief in the project ‘cause this exposes those who have no problems with taking the lead on a task.

Question 8: What have you done to make a job easier?

Sometimes, a job isn’t as difficult as it seems and it only takes a self-motivated person to expose how it can be made easier.

You just don’t want people who are intimidated by seemingly impossible tasks.

Question 9: Have you ever gone beyond expectations when working on a job?

A large part of the job market is filled with people who like to do what they’re told and leave it at that.

You should instead be searching for driven employees who are not scared to go beyond expectations to do a job.

Question 10: What career goals have you set for your life?

Self-motivated prospects sometimes develop that trait because of their need to share in the company’s success and that’s not a bad thing.

Some goals have to be accomplished for them to feel they’ve had a successful career and that would involve their stepping up to contribute and even lead on some projects.

Question 11: How have you approached working with others who are not motivated to work hard?

Sometimes, there’s just nothing one can do in a work environment with reduced energy levels across the board.

But you should find out how they handled the following project when motivation was back. It should show how they maintained self-motivation after experiencing a setback.

Self-driven employees won’t stay in a place that stifles their growth so going job hunting because they’re searching for new challenges is a good sign.

Question 12: How would you need your supervisor to motivate you at work?

Very few people are comfortable and can work with no supervision but that’s not what you’re checking for.

You need people who require little supervision to get the job done ‘cause it saves the supervisor some time too.

3. They Should Have Leadership Skills

Prospects with leadership qualities are people you can rely upon and here are some questions to ask to get them:

Question 13: What do you like about leading people?

This question exposes prospects who really care about managing people to be better versions of themselves.

Failing on a project they’ve led is not too much of a problem if they’re not negative about their colleagues while giving that report ‘cause that’s a red flag.

You would watch out for candidates who show that readiness to lead even when things aren’t moving so well.

Good leaders share valuable information from their superiors that would help those under their supervision.

Question 14: How have you managed conflicts during a project?

Sometimes tension builds up in the work environment and people begin to disagree even over the most mundane things.

Good leaders listen and allow opposing views even if they don’t agree with them.

You should check for candidates who’ve led in such difficult situations without taking their eyes off the goal.

Question 15: How do you adapt to new challenges?

Things don’t always go as planned so you need people who can lead even when there’s a change in procedure.

Great leaders have no problems with learning on the way to completing a task.

Question 16: How do you approach negotiation?

Leaders are always going to work with people who disagree with them on some or all issues, sometimes they’d have to make some concessions.

You should find out how they persuade people into their line of thinking. People who threaten others during negotiations are not good enough.

A good negotiator uses critical reasoning to demonstrate areas of mutual benefit.

Question 17: What’s your decision-making process like?

Leadership involves making tough decisions, and they won’t always be the right decisions.

You won’t find someone who has always made the right decisions, if you do then they’ve not had to take many decisions.

But you don’t want someone who takes many or no risks or one who depends on luck to make a decision.

People who understand that actions have consequences and are ready to see, with the benefit of hindsight, the flaw in a decision they took are good candidates.

Question 18: Can you speak about a time you inspired someone out of a crisis?

Members of staff may go through some personal crisis that’ll affect their development and contribution to the company.

You don’t want candidates who are quick to judge struggling employees. Also, find out what goes through their mind before they recommend a sack.

Good leaders are passionate about the well-being of members of their team and want to see them grow.

One way they show this is by offering valuable feedback after employees complete their tasks.

4. They Should Have Good Communication Skills

People push and exchange ideas in business by communicating with others. Strong communication skills also show those who’d be able to sell the business to your target market.

You’d need open-ended questions to do this and here are some of them:

Question 19: What are your favorite hobbies?

Everyone has something they enjoy doing in their spare time so you’d get a response every time.

But what you want to do is to get them talking about a hobby you’re a bit familiar with and explaining it in a way you can actually learn something new about that activity.

People who are able to explain complex things in simple language for others to understand have good communication skills.

Question 20: How were you able to convince people on a controversial project that later failed?

It’s not difficult to convince people on something with a greater likelihood of success. It’s possible other team members also share the same prediction so they’d go ahead with it.

But on a project with a likelihood of failure, there’d be disagreements so smart communicators know how to win more people on their side to follow through on the project.

And if the project turned out to be a failure, they’d have to manage dissent from those who initially disagreed in the future.

Question 21: Can you teach me something practical about your job?

It’s easy to teach practical things when you’re actually taking the action and people can just watch and follow your steps.

But painting a verbal picture so even people who are not experienced can understand how to move from the first to the last step is something only those with good communication skills can manage.

Pay attention to the details the candidate focuses on and see how they link with the big picture.

Question 22: Why are you leaving your job?

Most candidates know there’s a thin line between speaking highly of how your business will offer them growth and how their former employer can’t provide that.

They want to express their enthusiasm for this new offer without disparaging their former employer.

The right candidate will know how to navigate this path.

Question 23: What would you change about this business now?

Anyone can identify the mistakes your business is making but very few will be able to draw out a plan and sell their solution to you right there.

It could be a web design issue or something with your warehouse but identifying the problem is nothing, is the solution convincing enough?

5. They Should Be Open To New Technology

You should hire employees who understand the role tech has to play if your business will move forward.

Are there people who’d resist or embrace new technology in your business?

Ask these questions to find out:

Question 24: What online resources do you use for help with your job?

For just about any field you can think of, there’s always an online hub or a social media group where professionals hang out.

You should hire candidates who are engaged with their colleagues from around the world, improving the way they do their work in line with global standards.

Check for any certifications, courses and professional development projects they may have undertaken online.

Question 25: Can you tell me about a relevant technology you think I’m not using that’d help my business?

Passionate candidates would have done some background research about your business so they may have an idea of the problems you may be facing.

It gets even better when they suggest technology that solves the problem faster.

Question 26: What are your favorite and least favorite technology products?

And the answers don’t need to have anything to do with tech you use in your business.

Take note of the products they mention and look at what goes on in their minds when they’re paying for a tech product.

Do they care about user experience? Is price all that matters? Why did they choose that and not a competing product?

Check their answers with the needs your business prioritizes in a product and see if they’re willing to adapt.

Question 27: Are you comfortable working remotely?

Some candidates may have worked remotely in the past but it’s still not an option they fancy so you should check that if it’s something you may require on occasion.

Technology helps bridge the gap in these situations so you should ask for the kind of tools they use while working.

6. And Some More Questions To Reveal Passion

Most of the other questions do expose passion for the job in some way but with the stats bringing to the fore the dearth of passion in the workplace, it’s something that can’t be overemphasized.

Here are some questions you’d want to ask:

Question 28: How do you maintain a work-life balance?

Monotony can cause boredom and a reduction in passion. You should make sure your employees have a life outside of work with which they can recharge in preparation for more work.

Analyze this balance and don’t hire people who have no time to play or rest as it affects their output when working.

Question 29: What are your career goals

Where do candidates see themselves five or ten years down the line?

Passionate people want to be better in their line of work so you’d get answers that reflect that.

Question 30: Are you comfortable with volunteering?

People who have volunteered in the past are people with the drive to learn and do more.

Passionate candidates will volunteer even in situations they don’t benefit from.

Question 31: What part of your work excites you?

This is important because many people literally hate their jobs.

And they don’t need to like every aspect of their job. It’s okay to have some boring aspects here and there.

But you should go for candidates that take an exciting part of their job and let that control their mood.

Watch their reaction to your question and ask them what inspires them about this job.

Question 32: What’s a big question in your field you’d like to solve?

Passionate candidates long for the opportunity to use their creativity to resolve unanswered questions.

They’re not interested in doing just the bare minimum.

If this problem is something you also face in your business ask for a unique solution that will work for you.

Question 33: What aspects of the job do you think you’ll dislike?

Many employers dish out some redundant job responsibilities.

Candidates who are committed would rather that duty be outsourced or scrapped as it gets in the way of more important responsibilities.

Question 34: What do you know that many don’t about the company?

Most candidates would do some background research but stop at general information about a company.

Interviewees who are passionate will go as far as checking up on your competitors and exposing weaknesses you can exploit.

Statements around work culture are things that require some in-depth research so that’s a good sign.