The Power of A Great Interview Question

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A truly effective interview hinges on the use of insightful, open-ended questions. These questions serve a dual purpose: they encourage candidates to speak freely and extensively, thereby opening a window into their unique styles and personalities. My goal as a  recruiter specializing in the furniture and appliance industries is to delve deeper into a candidate’s thought processes, motivations, and communication styles, seeking alignment with both the specific role and the broader organizational cultural fit.

These questions offer candidates the latitude to divulge details at their discretion while granting you the opportunity to unearth unexpected insights.

My Go-To Interview Question:

“Can you describe how your peers and direct reports might talk about you in your absence, say around the water cooler?”

This query is not just about gauging self-perception; it’s an invitation for the candidate to articulate how they believe they are perceived by others. It uncovers attitudes of humility or arrogance, self-awareness or self-aggrandizement. My objective in posing this question is to glean critical insights into the candidate’s willingness and ability to introspect and discuss their interpersonal relationships.

My Secondary Go-To Question:

“Could you detail a specific, measurable achievement of yours, clarifying whether it was a solo endeavor or a team effort?”

The specificity of this question is key. It sifts out vague or generalized claims, compelling the candidate to provide concrete examples. For instance, a claim like, “I contributed to a 20% increase in sales last year,” might be superficial unless backed by substantive evidence of personal involvement. We’re looking for quantifiable impacts directly attributable to the candidate’s actions.

An experienced interviewer will not stop at the initial response. They delve deeper with follow-up inquiries: “How exactly did you influence sales figures? What specific strategies or actions did you employ? Was this a solo achievement or a collaborative effort?”

These follow-up questions are indispensable. They cut through rehearsed responses, revealing whether a candidate is genuinely accomplished or merely adept at self-promotion. This approach not only mitigates the impact of nerves or overconfidence but also magnifies the potential and talent of the individual before you.

This enhanced version and structure, adds depth to the explanation of each interview question and emphasizes the strategic value of follow-up questions in uncovering genuine candidate capabilities.

These questions can be tailored to specific roles and obviously, these are not designed for entry-level hiring.

By incorporating some powerful questions into your interviewing strategy, hopefully, you’ll unlock and hire more candidates with IMPACT PLAYER potential.


Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted on‘s blog and was republished here with permission.

About the Author

Bill O’Malley is President of Connector Team Recruiting a firm headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia specializing in the Furniture | Appliance and Sleep verticals. Connector Team is a full-service Search Firm offering permanent placement recruiting and interim staffing solutions. For more information, visit or feel free to contact Bill at


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