Hiring Questions

Screen for the Right Attitude


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Questions You Can Ask to Screen for Attitude

  • Tell me about the last time you broke the rules to serve a customer in need. [flexibility; judgment]
  • Tell me how you recently used humor to diffuse a tense situation. [fun]
  • Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty to assist a co-worker when you received no recognition or no credit. [unselfishness; teamwork]
  • Give me an example of how you work with an extremely difficult co-worker. How did you handle it? [adaptability]
  • Describe a time when a co-worker failed to pull their weight. What did you do? [adaptability]
  • Tell me about a time when you made a serious mistake with a customer or a co-worker. How did you reconcile it? [ability to admit mistakes]
  • Tell me about the most difficult customer you’ve ever dealt with. How did you handle it? [service focus]
  • What’s the most important thing you have learned in the last six months? What new skills, knowledge or experience have you gained? [willingness and ability to learn]
  • Tell me about the last time you tried something new or took on additional responsibility when there was no guarantee for success. [willingness to take risks]
  • Tell me about the last time you asked someone for feedback. What did you do with that information? [willingness to be coached]
  • Tell me about the last time you had to work with others to accomplish a critical result. What did you do? [collaboration]


1. Another exercise you can use to screen for unselfishness and teamwork begins by asking interviewees to prepare a 5-minute presentation about themselves in a group interview. Then as each presenter comes up to share their personal story, watch the audience members to see if they are enthusiastically drawing the speaker out and encouraging the speaker [unselfishness] or if they are busy making last-minute notes and preparing their own presentations [selfishness].

2. Notice that these are not hypothetical, “what would you do” type questions. These questions ask for previously demonstrated behavior. The assumption is that emphasis on past behavior determines future success.

3. Your questions will become more powerful and more targeted if you first identify your star players in a particular function and then build a profile of the key attributes that are common to each of those star players. Successful screening begins with knowing precisely what it is you’re looking for.

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