Top Five Strategic Interview Questions To Help You Find Best-Suited Employees

By Indeed Editorial Team

April 8, 2021

Hiring the correct staff can drastically improve a company's efficiency and profitability. Staff members who feel satisfied in their jobs are conducive to a happy and productive work environment. To find out whether a candidate is a good fit for a role at your company, you can ask strategic interview questions. In this article, we explain what strategic questions are, list five effective strategic questions and answers and provide a few tips you can keep in mind for your next interviews.

What are strategic interview questions?

Strategic interview questions are carefully thought-out questions that provide you with insight into a candidate's character, motivations, emotional intelligence, values and goals. Being a good fit for an open position is about more than having the technical acumen or hard skills for the job. The best candidates also fit in well with a company's culture, and the position should ideally align with the candidate's professional goals. You can use strategic interview questions to find out about these, and other aspects, of the interviewee.

Related: The 5 Most Common Types of Corporate Culture

Effective strategic interview questions

Here are five effective strategic interview questions and sample answers. These may give you an idea of questions you can ask to provide you with relevant and valuable information regarding an interviewee:

Can you tell me about a time you made a mistake that impacted your work and how you reacted subsequently?

Behavioral questions such as this one are an effective way to learn more about a candidate's personality, values and work style. Learning about how they acted in the past may be a good indication of how they would react in the future. With this specific behavioral question, you can learn how open and honest a candidate is and whether they have the ability to learn from their mistakes.

Example: "**During my first project manager role, I went against my best judgement and promised to deliver a project to a client sooner than the team could likely complete it. I worked strategically with the team to try to complete the project by the agreed-upon deadline, but even with our best efforts, the quality was not sufficient.

Fortunately, the client was understanding when I requested more time to complete the project, but I learned to rely on my knowledge of my and my team's capabilities in order to make deadline decisions that benefit everyone. Since then, I've been assertive about the time my team needs to complete a project, and clients have responded well to this strategy.**"

Related: 35 Behavioral Interview Questions to Prepare For (with Example Answers)

In your career so far, which task or project that you completed do you feel proud about and regard as one of your best accomplishments?

This is a very effective question to ask, as a candidate's answer can provide you with many valuable insights. These may include how they approach and plan projects, whether they value teamwork and how they deal with challenges. You can also learn how the candidate measures success.

Example: "**When I started a new job as an IT technician a large IT firm, they gave me a large account to look after that no other technician wanted, as it meant long hours and repetitive work. The client was a car manufacturer, and the work involved doing maintenance and desktop calls for the various engineers and administrative staff onsite.

I wanted to prove myself as a new member of the team, so I approached the tasks proactively. I developed a great relationship with the onsite staff at the manufacturing company, and by the end of the year, I received an award for Best Support Service at my company. The client was so happy with my work, they rewarded the company I worked for with two large contracts for the following year."

Related: How To Use the STAR Interview Response Technique

Why are you leaving your current position?

While you can find out what a candidate's official reason for leaving a company is by doing a reference check, you can learn a lot about a candidate from the way they speak about former employers and colleagues. By learning what the candidate's main reasons are for leaving, you can ascertain whether the available position is a good fit for them.

Example: "I have been with my current company for nearly seven years. I am very grateful for the opportunity the company gave me and have learned a lot from my colleagues there. Since it's a small company, though, the advancement opportunities are limited, and I would like to join an organization where I can take on more responsibility and develop my skills now."

What do you want to achieve professionally in the next five years?

Ideally, you're searching for candidates who are ambitious and have clear goals, as these are typically effective employees. When you interview such candidates, foreground how your organization can assist them in reaching their goals.

Also, it's helpful to seek candidates whose future goals align well with the position you're offering. This type of candidate has a good chance of being satisfied in their position, as they are clear about how it fits into their career development plan and the achievement of their goals.

Example: "**I am glad you're asking me this question because, if hired, I'd look forward to collaborating on my career goals with you. I am applying for the position of program manager in your company as I have been running large projects as a project manager for years now.

My long-term goal is to become a CEO of a company. I would like to achieve this within 10 years, during which I would like to move into positions with more executive responsibilities. In five years, I would like to be working as an operations manager or a branch manager in this company."

Related: Setting Goals To Improve Your Career

Pitch a service or solution this company offers to me as if I were a prospective client.

In order to answer this, candidates need to draw on the research they have done on the company. Their answer is a good indication of how well they understand the business and whether they have the ability to act as a professional brand ambassador.

Example: "**We are an international company with branches in 29 countries worldwide. However, the owner opened the first branch right here in Texas 50 years ago. We have many long-term, established relationships in our local community and many clients we've enjoyed serving here over the years.

If you sign a maintenance agreement with us, we can assure you that our professional team of IT technicians will be available 24/7 for service calls. We are also committed to helping you plan and reinvent your IT strategy so that you can improve your operations and customer service within the span of three months."

Tips to remember when you're conducting a strategic interview

To ensure that the interview process goes well and that you receive relevant information, here are a few tips to remember:

  • Use the same questions: In order to effectively compare candidates, ask everyone the same set of questions. This gives you a common set of criteria with which to evaluate candidates.

  • Ask behavioral questions: Asking behavioral questions is a great way to learn about specific traits and values of a candidate. Since good answers to these questions provide an example from the candidate's past, candidates tend to give more substantive replies when answering these questions.

  • Create a comfortable environment: Interviews are typically stressful situations for interviewees. You want them to feel comfortable and relaxed enough to provide you with carefully considered replies. Aim to provide a friendly environment by being on time, offering them something to drink and approaching them in a welcoming manner.

  • Ask them if they have any questions: Remember to ask interviewees if they have anything they want to ask you once you've completed your questions. This will give the interviewee a chance to ask key questions that may determine whether the position would be a good fit for them. Additionally, their questions can also provide you with some useful insights into their motivations and priorities.

  • Watch for nonverbal cues: Apart from what a candidate says, you can learn a lot about them through nonverbal cues such as the way they dress, their posture and whether they make eye contact.

  • Know who you're interviewing: Just like you expect interviewees to research the company before an interview, ensure that you read through the candidate's application documents before the interview.

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