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Interview Questions That Can Get You A Great Job, Or Cut Your Interview Short.

When I started my job search, I knew what I wanted in a work environment. I had taken a course to learn what I value, listened to podcasts, and read books on career development. I also felt confident, considering I am a Certified Career Counselor. But now that I was on the hunt for a job, it was time to practice what I had preached to hundreds of career development clients.


During the final interview with a company, I had the opportunity to ask them questions. Most career development experts recommend asking your interviewer at least one question. I too, have told my clients that they should do this. But it is one thing to suggest this and another to work up the guts to ask difficult questions to people interviewing you.


The point of asking questions to an interviewer is not to stump them. But if your question is too simple, it defeats the purpose. You want to ask questions that matter. The answer to your question should make it more straightforward whether or not you would like to work with the company if offered a position. Your question might also solidify your cultural fit or qualifications.


When the interviewer asks whether you have any questions for them, the answer is not, “ No, I think we have already answered all my questions.” Even if they did answer most of the questions during the process, this is a valuable opportunity to learn more information before you are more intertwined with the organization.


A warning: there is risk involved with asking questions to your interviewer.


Here are some of the difficult questions I asked: “I have discovered that the following five values are what I look for in a teammate. After hearing these five values, do you feel that these align with how your team works?”


Then I asked my potential supervisor,” When I look for a supervisor, I look for these five attributes. Would you say that any of these are not qualities you possess?”


The three interviewers were silent for a bit before saying, “ Wow, what a great question. By asking this, you know whether or not we should continue our conversation. If it is not a good answer, it cuts our interview short, and we don’t waste your time.”


Was this risky? If I am trying to get a job to have a job, then yes. But if I did not ask this question, I risked having a team and a supervisor that did not operate according to my non-negotiable needs.


Values-Driven Interview Questions I told the interviewers that I needed a team that had an abundance mindset. Not a group that expresses that there are never enough resources or possibilities. I also need to work with people who have a growth mindset. I’m not talking about growth from a strictly financial sense. I mean a perspective where they always want to learn more and become better. I also value working with creative teams. For me, creative workplaces are fun workplaces (fun is another one of my teammate requirements). I asked them when they last had fun together and what it means for them to have fun at work. Finally, I let them know that I am looking for teammates that are affirming. Not teammates that agree with everything I do or say. An affirming team is a team that is full of encouragement and recognizes the value of one another.


To my potential supervisor, I directed the following questions.


  1. I do my best work when I have clear expectations. How do you communicate clear expectations to your team? What are some examples of a communication win?

  2. As a former mental health counselor, I value Unconditional Positive Regard. Unconditional Positive Regard means that my supervisor sees me as a person rather than the problem when I make a mistake. When an employee makes a mistake, how do you address them?

  3. I do not believe in Work-Life Balance. I believe in a Holistic Approach to Life. What does a Holistic Approach to Life mean to you? How have you put that into practice?

  4. Another thing I learned in counseling school: "If it is in the room, talk about it.” This means that you share (when appropriate) the feelings, experiences, and other information that you are bringing into the room but not expressing verbally. In other words, I need a transparent supervisor. Tell me about a time that you were transparent as the company founder?

  5. I like working with a generous supervisor. What are some ways that you have shown generosity to clients and your employees?


To ask questions like this, you must know what you need in a teammate or a supervisor. But once you know what you need, these questions are some of the most important to ask during a job search.


These questions also helped drive an organic conversation with my interviewers. I learned more about who they are as people and less about unimportant business details. Who I am working with will significantly affect whether I am a good fit for this company. More so than reiterating the job description.



Discover Your Teammate and Supervisor Needs Knowing what you need in a supervisor and your teammates is a top priority if you are currently searching for a new career. To discover what you need in your team and supervisor:


  1. Write down the top 10 qualities you HATE in a teammate. Then do that for a supervisor. Do you hate it when they are always late? What about a supervisor who talks down to employees? The worst thing for you might be a discriminatory co-worker.

  2. Now you will name and write down the opposite characteristic of the top 10 qualities you hate in a teammate or supervisor. What is the opposite of always being late, talking down to employees, and prejudice in the workplace?


When you have your top 10 qualities, you can craft what we in the business call Behavioral Interview Questions. These interview questions require specific examples of when the interviewee acted out these principles.


Instead of asking: “Are you generous?” you could ask,” Tell me about a time you were generous toward a client.”


This forces your interviewer to give a clear example of behavior instead of trusting a hypothetical answer.



Next Steps


Now that you have taken some time to discover your team and supervisor values and crafted behavioral interview questions, you are ready for your next job interview.


I would love to hear about your team/supervisor requirements and behavioral interview questions. If you would like to share, email me at Daniel@learnedopportunity.com. I read every email and try to respond to as many as possible.


If you found this information helpful, would you consider sharing it with your friends? You can share this blog post and find other helpful information at danieleccles.com





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