The Power of the Right Questions: Revealing Soft Skills and Values in Job Interviews

“I like gambling!”.

That was the wrong answer to the last question: “What are your hobbies?” for a Chief Financial Officer position.

I remember vividly that case being told at UCU Lviv Business School by my lecturer Olha Sadokha. The candidate was simply amazing. His CV and experience were remarkable. Communication skills were at top level. Yet my lecturer had a gut feeling something was wrong with the candidate. She saw amazement on her collegues’ faces. They were nearly ready to make a decision to hire him.

“I could not convince my colleagues that something was wrong with the candidate. I could not simply say to them that it was merely my feelings telling me not to hire the candidate. The interview had already lasted for two hours. He was, in fact, the best fit for the position. Out of the blue, I just asked one last question: “What are your hobbies?. BINGO!”

Never again, since I heard that story, have I underestimated the importance of soft skills and people’s values.

“Years passed, and I realized what my gut feelings were warning me with red flags: the candidate avoided direct eye contact and rubbed his hands once in a while.” says Olha.

At Echo, we are happy to share some of the most handy questions we use during interviews that showcase the soft skills and values of the candidates.

Grab a cuppa tea and enjoy!

1. General Positions:

💪 Motivation

  • Can you tell me about a situation when you were most satisfied/dissatisfied with your job?
  • What did you do that brought you pleasure/displeasure?
  • Why was this situation pleasant/unpleasant for you?
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💡 Values

  • What do you think motivates people to work most effectively?
  • What usually motivates people to change jobs?
  • Why do people need money in life?
  • In what circumstances should you consider firing an employee immediately?

🎯 Result Oriented

  • What were your results in the position of ……?
  • Can you tell us about a situation when it was difficult to achieve results. What was the reason for this?
  • How do you typically organize your work?
  • Can you tell us about any achievements you are proud of?

⏰ Punctuality and Accuracy in Work

  • Can you tell us about a time when you were late for an important meeting?
  • How do you feel when someone is late for an appointment?
  • What aspects of your work did your supervisor usually comment on? Can you tell us about a situation like this?

🧩 Problem Solving

  • Can you tell me about the hardest decision you have had to make in the last six months?
  • Can you tell me about a situation where you had to make a decision in a very short amount of time?
  • What is a problem?

📅 Planning and Organizing

  • Can you tell me about the last time your workday ended before you completed all your tasks?
  • How do you typically allocate your time to fulfill your duties?

2. Team Lead, Project Manager Positions:

👑 Leadership

  • What are the functions and roles of a leader? To what extent (1 – 10) are you good at each of them?
  • What kind of leader are you?
  • What are your core values as a leader? How do you demonstrate these values? Give an example
  • What principles and rules do you follow in life? How important is each of them to you (1-10)?
  • Tell us about a situation when you were faced with a choice: to violate your principles or not
  • What does a leader need: strength or authority? How to influence people?
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🎯 Result Oriented

  • Have you ever faced a situation of disagreement in your work? How did you deal with it?

🤸‍♂️ Flexibility

  • Have you ever been in a situation where your old ways of working failed you?

⚖️ Making Decisions

  • How do you usually make decisions? Give an example of decision-making in your team’s work
  • How do you make decisions when you lack information? Tell us about a situation when you had to to make a decision and you did not have enough information

🧩 Problem Solving

  • Tell us about a situation when you had to solve a problem.
  • Describe a recent problem you faced at work and how you solved it. What was your contribution to overcome the obstacle and how did you implement the steps to overcome it?

🚀 Initiative

  • Tell us about a situation when your initiative led to a significant change.

🌱 Self-Development

  • When was the last time you updated your management knowledge and skills? What needs to be improved today?
  • How do you cope with work overload? How do you prioritize daily tasks for yourself? For your subordinates?
  • How do you deal with failures?

👥 Cooperation

  • How do you build and maintain relationships with colleagues, management, and clients?
  • Which people do you find it most difficult to build relationships with? Tell us about a time when you had to do this to achieve a result.

💼 Personnel Management

  • What methods of employee evaluation do you use?
  • How do you identify key employees in the team?
  • Give an example of how you have inspired your team/employees.
  • What are the most challenging factors for you as a manager?
  • How do you manage diversity in your team?
  • How do you make people in your team feel important?
  • Describe a situation when your colleagues/subordinates expressed a point of view/idea with which you disagreed. What did you do and what was the result?
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Conclusion

It may seem obvious that to do tedious work, you need to find a person with a particular set of soft skills. However, it is not always apparent during the interview process unless you ask the right questions.

Asking the right questions is key to finding the right answers.

Tagged as

communication, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, empathy, interviews

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Echo has helped dozens of tech companies build and manage high-performing software engineering teams in Eastern Europe. Feel free to connect me directly at šŸ“§ moc.auohce@ukipz
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li-url Zakhar Pikulytskyi

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