Which interview questions will reveal a job candidate's character?

The following is an extensive list of questions that will help you identify the behavior and character of the candidate you are interviewing.

These questions are divided into specific areas in order to help you target characteristics or behaviors that are most important to the job or company culture.   

Using your job description, identify questions within the specific categories that are most important to the position you are hiring for. Asking all of these questions would be too overwhelming and take too long. Highlight those that are the most important and use them as a guideline as you interview your candidate. 

Skill Set 

  • What are your most marketable skills? 
  • What have you learned or what skills have you gained that will benefit you most in this position? 
  • What skills do you need to develop further? 


  • How do you build relationships with your peers in the workplace? 
  • If you found yourself involved in a negative conversation about a peer, your work, or your boss, how would you handle it? 
  • When you have to deliver upsetting news to someone, how do you handle it? 


  • Tell me about the last time you did something important because it needed to be done, even though it wasn’t necessarily your responsibility. 
  • What is your standard for success in a job? 
  • What has been your greatest accomplishment to date? 


  • What attracted you to your previous employers? 
  • What did you learn in your most recent position that will benefit you in this position? 
  • Tell me about your most meaningful work experience. 
  • What is the last book you read? 


  • Tell me about the strongest criticism that you received from your most recent boss. How did you react to the feedback? What actions did you take after the discussion? 
  • How do you build relationships with your peers in the workplace? 
  • Tell me about a work situation where you had to work with others to achieve a common goal.


  • What are you passionate about? 
  • What do you do for fun? 
  • What magazines or newspapers do you read frequently? 


  • Describe the qualities or skills that you possess that will help you to be successful in this position. 
  • Whom have you enjoyed working for the most in a past job? What qualities did they possess that you would hope to emulate in yourself? 
  • What is your ideal working environment? 


  • Tell me of a situation where you had to adapt to unexpected changes in events. What was your reaction, and how did you adjust? 
  • How would your fellow workers in your most recent job describe you? 
  • Tell me about a situation when you worked with others to achieve a common goal. What was most challenging? 


  • What are you looking for in this job? What are your expectations? 
  • What recent goals have you set for yourself, and how are you progressing to achieve those goals? 
  • What are your long-range goals and objectives? 


  • If you could choose the type of people that you would be working with, what qualities would they possess? 
  • What is your standard for success in a job? 
  • Describe a situation at work where people needed to rely heavily upon you. 


  • How do you organize your work and schedule your own time? 
  • Tell me about a period of time that was hectic, and what you did to keep things under control. 
  • What specifically do you do to ensure that you give adequate attention to your various assigned responsibilities? 


  • Tell me about the job you held for the longest time frame. Why? 
  • Describe a difficult work situation where you had to stick it out through thick and thin. 


  • Tell me about the job you held for the shortest time frame. Why? 
  • What skills do you need to develop further? 
  • Describe a valuable lesson you have learned that changed your outlook on life. 
  • Who was your least favorite person to work for and why? 

Team Player  

  • Do you like to work alone or in a group? Why? 
  • Tell me about a situation when you worked with others to achieve a common goal. 
  • How would you handle a situation where all team members are not contributing 100%? 


  • Describe a situation that best illustrates your drive to achieve outstanding results. 
  • What is the most challenging goal you have ever met? 
  • Tell me about the most long-term, sustained extra-hours effort you have ever put in.

Problem Solver 

  • Describe a time where you were effective at detecting an emerging problem and taking action to resolve it before it became serious. 
  • Tell me about a recurring or persistent problem you have experienced within the last year that you feel you have now successfully corrected. 
  • Tell me about the most significant improvements, procedures, or new ideas that you have suggested or implemented. 


  • Tell me about a challenging situation in which you had to coordinate and motivate several people to achieve a goal. 
  • Tell me about the time you exerted the most effort to coach or develop another individual. 
  • Have you ever been in a position of leadership? If so, how did you motivate the group? 
  • Tell me about the most recent significant task you delegated to someone and were disappointed with how it turned out. 


  • What activities do you enjoy doing in your free time? 
  • What is the most challenging physical activity you have ever done? 

By utilizing these interview questions, you will not only find out what type of worker you are hiring, but also what kind of person they are. Being able to manage a working relationship based on a specific communication style will allow you to have the most efficient workforce possible. 


This HR Insights is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice. © 2013, 2019 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.