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the manager

Sam Geist, a consultant based in Markham, Ont., finds that clients at his workshops praise his scorecard and questionnaire for evaluating candidates in job interviews. It has 10 must-ask questions, in which the answers are rated on seven criteria.



Weaker candidates have a tendency to generalize their experience, not being able to draw out specifically what they learned in a given situation, or why. Stronger candidates tend to be much more specific.

Learning experiences

Weaker candidates have difficulty explaining what they learned when the interviewer probes deeper. They tend toward extremes in their answers - either routine, expected answers or exaggerated ones. Stronger candidates are more open about their weaknesses and mistakes.

Long view

Weaker candidates have a simpler view of people and their jobs. Stronger candidates describe situations and events with more significant depth of analysis.

The why

Weaker candidates tend to focus more on "what" happened and less on "why" it occurred. They have difficulty expressing whether any learning took place after an incident and what that learning was. Stronger candidates consider the "why" more than the "what" and are not hesitant to explain what they learned and what they would do differently in future.

Focus of interest

Weaker candidates are more focused on the incidentals of the job - the chance of promotion, for example, or the fringe benefits. Stronger candidates are more interested in the content of the job and their future in it.

Ability to analyze

Weaker candidates are able to analyze failure, but they are more reluctant to acknowledge their role in it. Stronger candidates are able to analyze failure and success - and acknowledge their role in both.


Weaker candidates are not accurately self-aware; they overstate strengths, are inconsistent when correcting weaknesses and they don't accurately judge their limits. Stronger candidates are more accurately aware of strengths, weaknesses and limits.


1. What was your most challenging job? Why?

What did you learn from this job?

2. What was your least challenging job? Why?

What did you learn from this job?

3. In what situation did you find that you had to overcome major obstacles to meet your objectives? What did you do? Why? What did you learn from the experience?

4. Who do you admire most? Who do you admire least? Why?

5. In what situation did you attempt to do something, but failed?

Why did you fail? What did you learn from this situation?

6. Describe a bad experience that happened to you. What did you learn from it?

7. Describe a situation where you tried to help someone change. What strategy did you use? How did the situation end?

8. Describe a mistake you made in dealing with people. What did you learn from it?

9. What was your best learning experience? What was your worst learning experience? What did you learn from each of them?

10. Describe the last major change you made. Why did you do it? How did it work out? What did you learn?