How I Conduct Job Interviews

I was a rock and roll musician before becoming a senior business executive. I could quickly tell how well a musician played their instrument during an audition, but when I interviewed a job applicant, it wasn’t as easy to determine whether I would want them on my team, or whether they would end up being among my best people.

Personally, I want employees who are self-starters and excelled at what they do, and I found the only way to learn what I need to know about an applicant, what their visions and values are, and exactly how bright and motivated they are, is to be a killer interviewer.

Here are things I have learned and used as an interviewer.


I prepared for interviews by writing down every question I can think of that was pertinent to the position, prioritizing the order, and printing them out on paper with enough room to write the interviewee’s response along with comments about their responses under each question.


I used these sheets for each person I interviewed; which give every applicant the same basic interview and help me remember what they said and what I felt about their responses.


I deviated from my prepared questions and asked follow-up questions to any response an interviewee gave during the actual interview–I learned more about the person. This made the interview more thorough, detailed, and probing.

Using that method, most people I’ve interviewed, whether they got the job or not, told me at the end of their interview they really appreciated the time and the questions because they felt they got a fair shot.

In fact, many told me it was one of the best interviews they ever had. This is an outstanding outcome; I was doing it for my purposes, yet it ended up having an unintended positive consequence for them, too.


An added benefit of doing an interview in this way, I could always refer back to the interview answer sheets if a candidate applied for another position at a later date.


It’s often easy to tell within the first 30 seconds (and that’s being kind) when someone is totally wrong for the job or the company’s culture. The inclination of the interviewer is to think: “Get me out of here! This one is not getting the job! Why am I wasting my time doing this interview?”

But, it’s important to give that person nearly the same interview as any other candidate. They will feel they got a fair shot, rather than feeling they got short-changed. Give everyone a decent interview and you will make fans, rather than enemies, whether they are hired or not.


Here are some questions I ask. I adjust and add to them, to suit my needs for each interview and to fit the position for which I’m interviewing.

  • Tell me about yourself and your career.
  • Why do you want the position?
  • What do you think the job is?
  • What do you think the job should be?
  • Why should you be the one who gets the job?
  • What do you bring that’s special and different from others?
  • What is, or will be your management and leadership style?

(I normally give an example of a management issue and ask how they would handle it: “An employee comes to you and tells you that another employee is stealing. What do you do and say?”)

  • What are examples of your past leadership –
    • What are you proud of?
    • Who have you mentored?
    • How many minorities worked for you?
    • Are you a team player or a loner?
  • What are your top three to five strengths?
  • What areas do you need to improve in?
  • What would other people say your strengths and weaknesses are?
  • How would others describe you?
  • Ask questions specific to the position or industry:
    • What is ROI? What is margin? What is your definition of marketing?
  • What is the big picture for our company? And for the job you are applying for?
  • What do you want to be doing in five years? 10 years?
  • How have you shown that you can juggle tasks?
  • Give examples of things you’ve done in the past that are functions of this position, what processes did you use, and what success occurred. (I provide examples when relevant.)
  • If an employee who had been very good at their job suddenly started being bad at it, what would you do?
  • What are your references, and why them?
  • What is the best campaign you’ve ever created or run and why? What is the worst?
  • How knowledgeable are you of technology in our industry?
  • What are the last two books you read? Movies you saw?
  • What would you want to accomplish in this position?
  • Define various industry terms.
  • How many people have you managed in the past?
  • Do you only rely on the work of others or do you roll up your sleeves?
  • What was the most creative, entrepreneurial idea you’ve had? And what was the outcome?
  • What are you most proud of in your career?
  • Why did you leave your previous jobs?
  • What kind of culture and atmosphere do you like and work best in?
  • How detail oriented are you?
  • What would prohibit you from taking the job if it is offered to you?
  • When could you start if you are offered the job?
  • What do you want to know from me?
  • What have I not asked that I should have asked?
  • What are you proud of?
  • Who have you mentored?
  • How many minorities worked for you?
  • Are you a team player or a loner?
  • What is ROI? What is margin? What is your definition of marketing?
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