25 Questions to Ask in the First Interview

Yesterday, I described the ideal employee candidate as humble, honest, hungry, and smart. I represented this as a sort of formula: “H3S.” But how do you determine if someone you are interviewing has these qualities?

People Shaking Hands During a Job Interview - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/MichaelDeLeon, Image #6492382

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/MichaelDeLeon

I have a list of questions that I use during my first interview with a candidate. It has evolved over time, as I have gained more experience. I don’t ask every question in every interview; rather I keep it on my lap as a reference.


  1. How do you feel about this opportunity?
  2. What work experiences have you had that prepare you to be successful in this position?
  3. What do you see as your three greatest strengths?
  4. What do you think is your biggest weakness?
  5. How do you learn best? How would you describe your learning style?
  6. You’ve obviously accomplished a great deal. To what do you attribute that success?
  7. We all make mistakes. When you discover that you have made one, how do you handle it


  1. Do you think that telling a “white lie” is ever justified “for the greater good”?
  2. If things go wrong with a project, what obligation if any do you feel compelled to share with your boss?
  3. If someone else has wronged you in some way, how do you deal with the situation?
  4. Can you tell me about a recent situation where you had to share bad news with someone? How did you handle it?
  5. Have you ever been in a situation where you had to make good on a commitment that you wished you hadn’t made?


  1. Are you satisfied with what you have accomplished in your life so far?
  2. Where do you see yourself in three years?
  3. What are your biggest personal goals? career goals?
  4. Would you consider yourself a reader? What kinds of things do you like to read?
  5. What was the last book you have read? What are you reading now?
  6. How do you make sure that you follow-up on your assignments? Do you have a system?
  7. How do you typically prepare for meetings?


  1. How well did you do in school? If you had to do it over again, how would you have done it differently?
  2. What do you wish they had taught you in school that they didn’t?
  3. Do you consider yourself a smart person? If so, why?
  4. What’s your general approach to problem-solving?
  5. How would you describe your learning style?
  6. What are some of your interests outside of work?
Question: What questions would you add to these list? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Anonymous

    Great questions to share with the readers. As a manager these are important questions to ask, thank you. This post was helpful.

  • Kondareddykarri

    for the Q.21….what u didn’t learn in school?
    you can add up the nxt question depending on the ans. ,DID U LEARN IT LATER WHEN U REALIZED,THAT U WERE NOT TAUGHT AT SCHOOL?

  • http://checkmatesystem.com Mary

    You know you are reading a great blog when the comments are as good a read as the original post!

  • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

    I printed this list off, to help me prepare for interviews in the, hopefully, not too distant future. Thank you for the invaluable input :)

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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ZVUD372U7ECG5MFUM4TQ2ESIOY Brenda

    I believe this article has covered the basics and more,  very well written.

  • http://questionstoaskduringaninterview.net/behavioral-interview-answers-and-questions-to-ask-during-an-interview/ Sean

    Thanks for the great article, not only is this a powerful resource for those giving an interview, but persons with upcoming interviews should read this list and be prepared to answer and number of these questions.

  • Meg Crossman

    I’m rather surprised that there is nothing in this list that seeks to capture where the person being interviewed is in their walk with the Lord.  I would certainly ask about that.  Also, I’d ask them, “Who are you accountable to?” and “What is the most recent step of obedience which the Lord has required of you?”

    • Darcy Hastings

      In most places discrimination on religious grounds is breaking the law.

  • Jyothika S

    Good post.!!Thanks for sharing..!!

     freshers jobs

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  • Mario Morales

    1)      Which of the following:
    cognitive, emotional, relational, or spiritual intelligence would you value
    more in a candidate you are thinking of hiring for this position if you were in
    my position?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I wouldn’t pick one. I think it is the combination of all of them that is important.

  • Thamsanqa Nkubele

    what is the first question that an employer asks in an interview? i’m going for an interview in a week time so i need to be prepared as i have not been to any formal interview.

  • Quiozon Marcoapollo

    what kind of job you don’t want to do?

  • Stephensantarneka

    I have an interview for a call center job, I always freeze up when an interviewer asks why should we hire you please help

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Perhaps you could think through the “talking points” in advance of the interview. Think through why you are the best person for the job, write those down, and memorize them. Then, when you are asked, you can give a confident answer. Thanks.

  • http://www.rozee.pk/jobs-in-hyderabad Jobs in Hyderabad Pakistan

    I have encounter so many time during interview and I know what interviewer is looking in you while asking such questions.

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  • Tim Fouracre
  • New girl

    Great post. I find myself having to conduct my first interviews from the hiring side, as my more senior colleague is suddenly unavailable to do so. I feel comfortable speaking about the position we are offering, but these questions really help gauge a prospective’s level of interest in the world around them, which is a hard thing to get a feel for in a 30-minute meeting. Thank you for this resource.

  • mahir

    this is quite helping