Recruiting: Sample interview questions for job candidates

When recruiting, startups need to consider the interview questions they will design, ask and score of job candidates. There will be specific interview questions for each job that you will need to ask.
There are also generic interview questions you can ask. These will help you understand how the candidate approaches work, and how successful they are.
The following examples provide some tried-and-true interview questions used frequently in recruiting and interviewing that will yield great insight into how well a candidate will fit with your work environment.

Relevant interview questions for all job candidates

Team play

  • Describe a situation in which you experienced conflict with a team member. How did you resolve the issue?
  • Describe a situation in which a team member’s level of performance negatively affected your work. How did you address the situation?

Problem solving

  • Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a decision made higher up in your organization. How did you react? What did you do to learn to accept and embrace the decision?


  • Describe a situation in which you had to work under great pressure. How did you manage the pressure? What was the outcome?
  • Working in a startup environment has both rewards and challenges. What do you foresee being the most significant challenge for you in this type of environment?
  • Tell me about a shift that you or your company made that fundamentally changed your role, the product or the company. What did you think about the change? How did you contribute to the change?

Initiative and commitment

  • Describe a situation in which you contributed extra time or effort to get the job done. What motivated you to do so?
  • Describe a situation in which you demonstrated initiative. What was the outcome?

Professional development

Interpersonal skills

  • Provide an example in your work history where you demonstrated excellent interpersonal skills.

Organizational skills and time management

  • Describe a job or task that required you to apply exceptional organizational skills. What tools or strategies did you employ?
  • Describe a project or task that you led. What were the challenges and how did you address them?

Interview questions for candidates for managerial or leadership roles

Motivating employees

Leadership style

  • What have you learned about people through your management experience and what adjustments have you made in your leadership style to maximize your effectiveness?
  • Provide an example of how you’ve mentored a young or entry-level employee.

Managing employee conflict

  • Describe a situation in which you dealt with conflict between employees. What strategies did you use to address the situation? What was the outcome?

Engaging employees

  • Describe a situation where one or more of your employees questioned your decision. How did you handle it? What was the outcome?

Employee performance management

  • Describe the key components of an effective performance management plan.
  • Describe a situation in which you addressed an employee’s poor performance. What approach did you use? What was the outcome?
  • What do you find are the greatest challenges in leading people? Describe the most significant challenge you have faced in leading an employee and how you handled it.


  • Describe a situation where you needed to leverage your influencing and negotiation skills to achieve a specific objective.

Risk taking

  • When was the last time you took a risk during your work history to achieve a greater benefit for the organization? What were the circumstances and what was the outcome?
  • If you had an opportunity, what business would you love to start and why?

Career goals

  • What are your career progression goals for the short term and long term?
  • What are you looking for in your next company? What type of company culture do you thrive in?