Candidate Toolbox














1.     “What interests you most about our company?”

         This question reveals whether or not the candidate is sharp enough or sufficiently motivated to have completed his/her homework on your company.


2.     “How do you feel about your career progress to date?”

         Will help you discover whether the candidate is unhappy in his/her present occupation.  Also, you may learn about a need for new challenges and opportunities.


3.     “Are you eager to please?”

         Effective question for identifying the “yes” person- particularly is a “yes” answer is offered without qualification.


4.     “What do people criticize you for?”

          May reveal positive or negative traits.  For instance, some may reply: “I’m often criticized for being a workaholic.”  Others may reveal shortcomings that merit further probing.


5.     “Have you done the best work of which you are capable?”

         Will demonstrate candidate’s finesse (or lack thereof) in responding to a difficult question.  Is he/she responding honestly? Is he/she clever enough to be slightly self-effacing? “I would be less than truthful if I implied that I was perfect, but I have always tackled each project with all my energy and talents.”


6.     “What did (do) you think of M/M as a supervisor?”

          This question will help you explore the positive or negative nature of the candidate’s relationship with his/her immediate or past superior.  A highly critical reply is an indication that further probing is warranted.  Explore the possibility of difficulties in other personal relationships.  Someone who is highly critical of previous or current management will likely be critical of future management.


7.      “Why should we hire you?”

            This question should not be asked of currently employed candidates who have been recruited for your company.  They are not ad respondents who are looking for a job, but rather are previously screened prospects for a specific position.  Your best posture is to work closely with your recruiter to educate candidates of the merit in working for your company.  This approach will help you acquire top talent.


8.     “Would you like to have your boss’ job?”

           Ambitious, hungry people are always preferred over those willing to settle for a safe route.


9.      “Are you willing to go where the company sends you?”


          If relocation is in the cards at some future date, save yourself some time and cover the matter early in the interview process.


 10.     “What kind of decisions are most difficult for you?”

             This question will show whether the candidate is willing to admit that he/she is human and that not everything comes easily.


11.      “How long will you stay with the company?”

             Often a measure of the reasonableness of their aspirations.  An appropriate response might be, “as long as I continue to learn and grow in my career.”  A less responsible reply, “until I retire.”


12.        “What would you like to be doing five years from now?”

                This question will illustrate the candidate’s grasp of what can and cannot be achieved by the ideal professional in his/her field.  Other prospects may not have done their homework and will have no ideas where their careers can take them.


13.        “What have you accomplished in your previous employment that helped improve production, increase sales, reduce costs, improve market share, etc.?”

                The answer can demonstrate the candidate’s grasp of the importance of “bottom line” objectives.  You can qualify the future value he/she will bring to your company and determine task vs. goal orientation.


14.         “What training/qualifications do you have for a position like this?”

                 May reveal additional background facts that are not otherwise disclosed by a resume or company application.


15          “How do you hope to improve your career by making a change at this time?”

                Acceptable answers include: 1)seeking to enhance advancement opportunity, 2)current position has become routine and is void of learning experiences, 3)present employer is losing ground to competition.  Answers that may indicate problems include: 1)salary is too low, 2)I don’t care for my boss, 3)I’m bored.


16.          “Why were you unemployed from (date) to (date)?” “What did you do during that time?”

                  If there is a gap in employment, you must clarify exactly what the candidate did during that period of time.  If he/she was terminated and spent the last six months seeking employment without success, your reluctance to hire is understandable.  If he/she claims to have worked as a consultant during the last year, consider this a red flag.  Qualify by asking:

                  a. Specifically for whom did you consult?

                  b. Do I have your permission to check references with these people?

                  c. What do you expect the references will say about your performance?

                  d.  How many hours per week were spent on these projects?

                  e.  What was your total income during this (consulting) period?


17.     “Why have you changed jobs so frequently?”

            This question is essential.  An unsatisfactory reply is a top reason for not extending an offer.  Some reasons for change can, of course, be legitimate and beyond the candidate’s control (lay off due to company-wide cut backs; new management; a


request to relocate and the candidate chooses not to; a new position offering more opportunity).


18.     “Have you ever hired or fired anyone?”

            Ask this question for two important reasons.  First, to determine whether the candidate is capable of performing these duties.  Second, to confirm whether previous experience was at a level high enough to include hiring/firing responsibility.


19.     “How many people have you supervised?”

            Similar to the “hired or fired” question.  You are trying to determine the depth of the candidate’s experience.  Look for exaggeration.


20.     “What are the reasons for your success?”

             This question will usually elicit a short list of positive character traits that you should confirm in reference checks on the candidate.


21.     “In what college activities did you participate?”

            May indicate leadership qualities, social adeptness and an interest and energy level essential for success.


22.     “What awards, scholastic honors or scholarships did you earn while in college?”

             Similar to the college activities question above.


23.     “What did you like least/most about your last  position?”

             Can reveal a readiness or desire for additional challenge or responsibility.


24.     “How does this job compare with others for which you have applied?”

            May indicate degree of motivation to change positions.  If the candidate is currently employed and not actively interviewing, you will want to be thorough in the presentation of your company’s desirability as a viable option for employment.


25.     “If one of the companies with whom you have previously interviewed offers you a position, would you accept?”  “At what salary?”  “Do you expect an offer?”  “When?” 

            Knowing the above will save you time and inform you of the candidates salary preferences.




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