I’ve done enough interviewing—both as the interviewer and the interviewee—to see that most interviewers ask really poor questions that reveal very little useful information about the interviewee, and when interviewees are asked good questions, they often have really poor answers to them.
Here are some of the questions I like to ask:
- Who do you look up to in your field?
- Who do you follow in your field?
- How do you stay up-to-date in your field?
- What are you currently learning in your field?
- What do you do outside of work?
- What do you create outside of work?
- What are you currently learning outside of work?
The thing I like most about these questions is that they can’t really be prepared for. For example, the interviewee either follows some people in their field or they don’t. Even if they can recall a few names they’re not going to be able to talk at length about who they follow and why unless they actually have the habit of learning from other people.
Asking questions about “outside of work” can be seen as controversial, but I think it’s only controversial because so many interviewers are looking for a very specific behavior that they think will ultimately come to benefit the company rather than the employee. If in response to “what do you create outside of work” someone said “I create a healthy atmosphere for my child to grow up in” that would be just as good (if not better) than if someone said “I contribute to open-source projects” or “I work on my side-business”.
Of course, despite how the questions are listed here, they’re just starting points. They aren’t meant to be asked one after another, in succession. The answer to each one should probably reveal more questions to ask. I believe it’s called a “conversation”. In fact, the exact answers might not even be that important. It might be more valuable to just see the quality of how they communicate.