What Makes a Good Interview Question?


When it comes to job interviews, people have various ideas regarding what constitutes good interview questions and poor interview questions. The aim of the interview is to get an authentic assessment of a candidate’s skills, experience, character, and work ethic. The best questions, many agree, are those that make the candidate think, ones that do not allow the candidate to respond with a canned, rehearsed answer. They enable the interviewer to get a true assessment of the candidate’s abilities and personality. They are open ended.

With this in mind, business author Nicole Nicholson has made her list of preferred questions, ones, she says, that are designed to draw out the ability and personality of a job candidate.

One good question is to ask the candidate what the first five actions he or she would take if the person were to get the job. This is an effective question for several reasons. One, it shows how much research the person has done about the job and the company, even though the interviewer may have to add details to fully explain the duties of the job. But this question is one that will really compel the candidate to think about what he or she would do to perform well in the job. It will show how the candidate views the job and what he believes is required to do the job well.

Another question involves the candidate’s idea of a good work environment. This will help to give the interviewer an idea of whether the candidate will fit in with the company culture.

Another question addresses the topic of when the candidate took a risk that did not work out. This helps the interviewer learn the extent to which a person is willing to take chances and how he or she responds to failure, what his or her resilience is like.

Another probing question is why the candidate left his or her last job. This also tells the interviewer a lot about a person, especially if the person is critical of a former employer.

Even though it is a common inquiry, Nicholson also believes asking a candidate about his or her weaknesses gives the interviewer a good idea about the candidate’s character. If the person attempts to sidestep the question, it may mean that he or she doesn’t take the issue seriously and is not willing to examine his or her performance in any meaningful way. However, someone who answers thoughtfully and forthrightly tells the interviewer that he or she takes personal shortcomings seriously and is willing to work on them to improve.

If you’re looking to fill hard-to-fill positions in construction, architecture or engineering in the Washington, DC area, give RealStreet Staffing a call. We look forward to hearing from you.

A career in construction administration and management can be (and for me has been) one of constant transition. It’s rather common that employment with a given company starts and finishes with each successive project; you’re a new hire as it’s just getting “out of the ground,” then finished and looking for a new project (and Read More…

Greg Wangler, Pentagon Construction Management Division

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