The best interview questions tell you about the person behind the resume. They enable you to get to know the personality, strengths and weaknesses of an individual and determine if they will fit into your corporate culture.

Here are six thought-provoking questions to ask an executive during an interview:

Why should we hire you?

This is among the best questions you can ask because the response defines what sets the candidate apart from the competition.

An individual who does a good job explaining how their background and experiences will power your business can do the same thing once they are hired.

Ask how they would contribute based on what they know about your company and the job. Those who have thoroughly prepared for the interview will relish the chance to shine and show their passion. Those who have not will stumble.

What motivates you? Frustrates you?

If what drives a candidate matches the role and your company culture, you have a winner. This strong, open-ended question also provides insight into why a person is seeking a new position.

When an individual discusses their past frustrations, they reveal important details about their personality and diplomacy skills. Their response can reveal significant information. Do they dwell on minor irritations, or ways they have successfully resolved serious issues? Look for candidates with strong, positive, intelligent responses.

Open up the discussion so you are more likely to receive a visceral response. Is a candidate in the market because they did not get along well with their team or manager? Were they underperforming and are being pushed out the door? You may find a clue to their true motivations, which will help you in your final selection process.

If you could restart your career, what would you do differently?

Asking a candidate to reflect back on major career choices they have made – both positive and negative – defines their level of ability when making calculated decisions. Raising this topic also gives potential hires another opening to share their goals, visions and future ambitions.

If I contact your last supervisor and ask which areas of your work need improvement, what will I hear?

This question, by its nature, will garner an honest answer. No amount of rehearsal or finesse can influence the response once a former boss is brought into the picture.

Find out whether a candidate is open to constructive criticism. They should be okay talking about the fact that they are not perfect. This also speaks to their overall ability to be open with you.

This is essentially the “What is your biggest weakness” question phrased in an unexpected way. Determine the depth of a person’s relationship-building and other interpersonal skills.

Transition into having them describe their ideal boss. This will enable you to identify the personalities and work styles that best suit candidates. What makes their professional relationships click?

How did you handle your toughest negotiation situation?

Take a behavioral approach with this question – perhaps even more so than with all others. Enable your candidate to figuratively bring you into their previous experience and show how they managed a specific challenge.

Every job involves negotiation. A person’s response to this inquiry not only yields insight into their bargaining skills, it also shows how they navigate with difficult people and circumstances. The best negotiators tell you that they lay out both sides of a problem, align the issues and follow a strategic process to reach a mutually agreeable solution.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

It is not as much about what a candidate says in response to this classic interview question, but how they say it. Look for sincere enthusiasm. You want leaders who know where they want to go and who will do everything in their power to ensure that your organization takes them there.

The executive recruiters at BrainWorks can help you source candidates you will not find on your own; then ensure that you land them via the right interviewing and hiring steps. Contact us today to set up an informational meeting and get started.

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