15 Unique Strategic Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

When hiring new employees, it’s important to make sure you choose the right ones. After all, your company’s success and reputation depend on your staff’s quality. A CareerBuilder survey found that 74% of employers have hired the wrong person for a position, and the cost of a bad hire can be up to 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings. Conducting thorough interviews beyond surface-level questions is crucial. You can gain valuable insights into a candidate’s skills, personality, and potential fit within your organization.

But how do you go about this? What kinds of questions should you ask to truly get to know a candidate and assess whether they would be a good fit for your company? In this article, we will share some strategic interview questions to help you test candidates more effectively.

Why it’s important to ask strategic interview questions?

Asking strategic interview questions is essential to ensure you get an honest and complete picture of the candidate. Here are some of the reasons:

  • Assess Candidate’s Fit: By asking strategic interview questions, interviewers can get a better sense of the candidate’s fit with the company’s values, culture, and working style. This helps to ensure that the candidate is qualified for the job and a good match for the organization.
  • Evaluate Soft Skills: Many strategic interview questions are designed to assess soft skills, such as communication, problem-solving, adaptability, and teamwork. These skills are often difficult to assess from a candidate’s resume alone, but they are essential for success in many roles.
  • Predict Performance: Strategic interview questions can also help interviewers predict a candidate’s future performance on the job. By asking questions about past experiences, interviewers can gain insights into how the candidate will likely approach similar situations in the future.
  • Reduce Bias: Asking all candidates the same set of strategic interview questions can help reduce bias in the hiring process. Using a standardized approach, interviewers can make more objective and fair evaluations of each candidate.
  • Improve Hiring Decisions: Ultimately, asking strategic questions can help interviewers make better hiring decisions. By gaining a more comprehensive understanding of each candidate’s skills, experience, and fit, interviewers can choose the candidate who will most likely succeed in the role and contribute to the organization’s success.

Type of Strategic Questions

To effectively evaluate a candidate’s fit for the job, culture, and company goals, you must ask various strategic interview questions. Here are three types of questions you can use to gain deeper insights into a candidate’s skills, personality, and potential:

Behavioral Questions

These questions ask candidates to describe how they’ve acted in past situations, which can give you insights into their work style, values, and decision-making processes. For example, you might ask, “Tell me about a time when you had to handle a difficult customer,” “Can you give me an example of a time when you had to work under pressure,” or “How do you prioritize tasks when you have multiple projects due at the same time?” Behavioral questions can help you assess a candidate’s problem-solving, communication, teamwork, and leadership skills.

Situational Questions

These questions present hypothetical scenarios and ask candidates how they would respond, which can reveal their attitudes, values, and interpersonal skills. For example, you might ask, “What would you do if a coworker asked you to cover up a mistake they made?” or “How would you handle a team member who wasn’t pulling their weight?” Situational questions can help you assess a candidate’s ability to think critically, communicate effectively, and handle difficult situations.

Job-Specific Questions

These questions test a candidate’s expertise in a particular area and ability to apply it to real-world situations. For example, you might ask, “Can you walk me through how you would analyze a complex data set?” or “What is your experience with X programming language?” Job-specific questions can help you assess a candidate’s technical skills, problem-solving abilities, and attention to detail.

15 Unique Strategic Interview Questions

  1. How did you hear about the position you’re interviewing for?
  2. What do you know about our company, and what interests you most about it?
  3. Why are you interested in this particular role within our organization? What drew you to it from all the other options available (roles, companies, etc.)
  4. Walk me through your resume/career history – why did you make the choices you made thus far, and how have they led you to this point in your career path today?
  5. What are your biggest accomplishments in your previous roles/projects, and how did they contribute to the overall success of the team/company?
  6. Tell me about a time when things didn’t go as planned – how did you react, and what could you have done differently in hindsight?
  7. Can you tell me about a time when you had to take a risk at work? What was the outcome, and what did you learn from it?
  8. If you were to start a new company today, what values would you prioritize and why?
  9. How do you approach problem-solving in situations where there are multiple possible solutions? Can you give me an example?
  10. How do you handle disagreements or conflicts with coworkers or managers? Can you tell me about a specific example?
  11. What is your process for staying organized and prioritizing tasks? Can you walk me through it?
  12. How do you keep yourself motivated when faced with challenging or tedious tasks?
  13. Can you describe a time when you had to adapt to a new technology or process at work? What was the experience like, and how did you handle it?
  14. How do you balance attention to detail with the need to meet deadlines? Can you give me an example of when you had to manage this balance?
  15. What is your experience with cross-functional collaboration? Can you tell me about a project where you had to work with people from different departments or teams?
  16. If you were given an unlimited budget and resources, what project would you want to work on and why?

Best Practices for Asking Strategic Interview Questions

Following best practices is important to get the most out of your interview. Here are some tips for asking effective and fair questions:

  1. Prepare in Advance: Before the interview, review the job description and identify the key skills, behaviors, and values important for the position. Then, come up with a list of questions to help you assess those areas. Consider asking open-ended questions that require candidates to give detailed responses and only ask yes-or-no questions that provide little information.
  2. Be Consistent: To ensure a fair and objective evaluation of candidates, ask the same questions to all candidates. This can help you compare their responses and make more informed hiring decisions.
  3. Listen Carefully: During the interview, listen carefully to the candidate’s responses and ask follow-up questions to clarify their answers. Be aware of your biases and avoid making assumptions based on race, gender, age, or appearance.
  4. Provide Context: When asking situational or job-specific questions, provide enough context for candidates to understand the scenario. Avoid using jargon or technical terms that might be unfamiliar to them.
  5. Assess the Answer, Not the Delivery: When evaluating a candidate’s response, focus on the substance of their answer rather than how they deliver it. Remember that some candidates might be nervous or have different communication styles. Assessing their answer rather than letting their delivery influence your evaluation is essential.
  6. Take Notes: Take detailed notes during the interview to help you remember the candidate’s responses and make a fair comparison. Record the candidate’s answers and your impressions of their demeanor, communication style, and overall fit.


To sum up, asking strategic interview questions is essential in hiring. It enables you to identify your organization’s most qualified and compatible candidates. Using a range of questions that evaluate a candidate’s skills, personality, and potential fit, you can comprehensively understand their suitability for the position.

To conduct effective interviews, it’s important to follow best practices such as preparing in advance, being consistent, listening carefully, providing context, assessing the answers, and taking notes. By adhering to these guidelines, you can conduct fair and efficient interviews. This will enable you to find the right person to join your team and contribute to the success of your organization.

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