As someone that enjoys people watching and reading body language, I’ve always been quick to volunteer as an interviewer. Over the years, I’ve developed a few favorite interview questions.

What would be an adjective that your co-workers would use most to describe your personality (and/or work deliverables)?

  • As opposed to “describe yourself or what are your strengths”, which I find is always rehearsed. I want to know how others perceive you.
  • Co-workers angle: This seems to be unexpected. Almost always the body language reads that they are hesitating to truly think of what their co-workers would use for single adjective.
  • Single adjective: Because I’ve asked for only one, the time delay in responding should be short. This tends to prevent over thinking the answer for an optimal adjective.
  • No right answer: There are many answers that would be completely acceptable from trustworthy to passionate.
  • There are wrong answers: Boy, have I heard them.
      • Bucket-emptier: As my 6 year old was receiving bucket fillers for being kind to others, I understood what this meant.
      • Long-winded: This was after he took 45 minutes to answer the previous question. I almost laughed myself out of the room but I had to give him a gold star for honesty.
      • Bull-headed, stubborn, inflexible, etc: Yes, the one adjective went out the window and instead all his frustration for his current teammates came out.

If you could go back to the start of your career and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be? 

  • As opposed to “highlight a key lesson you have learned”, which I find is always rehearsed. I want to know the one that trumps all others.
  • Give yourself: Because I’ve made the question personal, I find this tends to provide honest reflection and advice.
  • Answers often provide various opportunities for insight:
      • Answer should compliment with experience and role being sought after. A bad example is if they are applying for a management role, but their answer is “sometimes to get the best results, you have to micro-manage your teammates”.
      • Answer should highlight what they value. A great example was a developer once said, “if you get the opportunity to create an application from scratch, cherish it”.
      • Answer might provide you insight in areas that may need to be explored deeper. For example: “to be more aggressive with climbing the career ladder”, is this the role they truly want or a rung on the ladder? Do their motivations align with your needs?

What is the best piece of criticism you have ever received?

  • As opposed to “what are your weaknesses or area of improvement”, which I find is always rehearsed.
  • Best piece of criticism:
      • Does the candidate look at criticism positively as opportunities for growth?
      • Is the candidate grateful for the person that provided the feedback?
      • Did they seek out more?
  • Received:
      • Did the candidate improve or dismiss the feedback?
      • Did the candidate seek validation?
      • How long ago? If years ago, why was that so critical versus newer criticisms?

What are your favorite interview questions?


Tricia Broderick

Tricia Broderick

Tricia Broderick is a leadership and organizational advisor. Her transformational leadership at all levels of an organization, ignites growth of leaders and high performing teams to deliver quality outcomes. Tricia has more than twenty years of experience in the software development industry. She is a highly-rated trainer, coach, facilitator and motivational keynote speaker. Beyond her extensive knowledge and skills, her biggest offering is inspiring people to believe anything is possible.


  • Jeremy says:

    An interview question that I really like to use is ‘Tell me about a time when you had to fight for a feature or functionality you really believed in.’ It has provided good insight into how a candidate handles conflict but it has also on many occasions has resulted in a candidate providing interesting insights into how they work in general and what they are really passionate about.

    • Avatar photo Tricia says:

      For some reason this comment slipped through and I only noticed today. My apologies.

      I really like this question and could imagine the insights responses would provide. I’ll have to give it a try one day.


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