For more information on creating a good interview framework, see the Guide to hiring early employees for consumer startups.
Interviews are difficult to pull off. They run the risk of being too casual, thus not able to actually understand the abilities of a candidate and if they’d be able to do the job well. They are also often put together hastily. An unprepared interviewer can mean the wrong candidate is hired, or the right candidate slips through the cracks.
Interview questions do largely depend on the role itself. To ascertain certain technical and functional requirements, it makes sense to devote at least a part of an interview to asking questions that test these — asking about past experiences in specific companies and the problems they solved.
But good interviews also ensure that the candidate’s entire personality and experience can come through and that the right answers to the right questions are discovered. Goals for an interview will always vary depending on what type of company it is and what the role is, but a clear interview framework can be used to help structure and guide interviews successfully.
Each interview should seek to answer some of these questions, with the goal being for the entire process to answer all of them.
- Does the candidate understand the role’s requirements and the overall mission and vision of the company?
- Does the candidate have the right functional and non-functional skills? This includes technical skills, communication skills and managerial and leadership skills.
- What are the candidate’s interests and passions?
- What are the candidate’s professional goals?
- Will the candidate fit into the culture of the organization?
Sample interview questions
Role’s requirements and the mission and vision of the company
- What about this role appeals to you?
- What about this company appeals to you?
- When did you first hear about this company?
- What do you think we’re doing wrong?
- When was the last time you [solved this problem]? Walk me through it.
Functional and non-functional skills
- What key areas did you contribute to in your last role?
- When was the last time you failed?
- How do you like to be managed?
- What other companies (in your industry) do you admire? What about them do you like?
- How do they solve problems in areas they don’t know about?
- How did you prepare for this interview?
- How do you like to work? What makes a great workplace for you?
- What do you think of other great companies outside the industry?
- What is your media diet?
- If you had a [current problem for the company], how would you solve it?
Interests and passions
- What is your media diet?
- What do you do for fun?
- Who was your best boss ever?
- What was the best team you ever worked with? Why?
- What gets you excited about work?
- What gets you not excited about your job? What brings you “down”?
- Where do you want to go in life?
- Are you more of a visionary or pragmatist?
- How do you manage teams?
- How do your teams describe your management style?
- What gets you through a crisis?
- How do you see your career evolving?
- How do you like to hire people?
- What was the worst hire you ever made and why?
- Do you depend on networks to make hires? How do you find people you want to work with?
- What other roles are you looking at?
- If not this job, where would you want to work?
- What is a company you admire?
Culture of the organization
- How do you handle stress?
- Do you worry about burnout? Why and how do you seek to avoid it?
- Do you work best independently or in teams?
- How do you like to adapt your style to remote teams?
- Are remote workforces good? Are they bad?
- Do you take risks? Why or why not? When was the last time you took one?