Job interview vector illustration.

You are getting ready to interview some potential candidates, but you aren’t sure which questions to ask. Of course, you would want to get the most out of it by asking strategic and pointed questions. What would some of those questions be? 

Strategic interview questions to ask candidates include a mix of behavioral, situational, and career development. Behavioral questions look at the candidate’s past behavior, situational questions look at their current problem-solving skills, and career development questions analyze their future goals. 

This article will go over some general tips to get the most out of your interviews. It will then go into some strategic behavioral, situational, and career development questions you can ask your candidates to get a well-rounded picture of how they will perform at your company. 

General Interview Tips 

While this article will cover some general strategic interview questions you can ask your candidates, don’t be afraid to throw in some more specific questions that will help you determine whether or not they will be suitable for the position they are interviewing for. 

For example, if you need someone with really great people skills because they are interviewing for a higher-level position, then you may want to ask questions that are geared towards assessing their communication, how they work with others, conflict resolution, and so on.

Ask the Same Questions to Every Candidate

Asking the same strategic interview questions to every candidate is the only way to ensure that you’ll make a fair decision. 

If you ask candidates different questions, you won’t have all of the same information about all of your candidates. Also, some candidates may find some questions easier to answer than others, so you won’t get an impartial view of all of your interviewees.  

Choose Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions are more valuable than closed-ended questions. You learn more about your candidates during the short interview time you have allotted. They also give you a much better sense of the person. 

Make sure to phrase your strategic interview questions for candidates in an open-ended way. For example, instead of saying, “Have you ever made a mistake at work” say something like, “tell me about a time you made a mistake at work. What happened, and how did you resolve it?” 

Behavioral Strategic Interview Questions 

Behavioral Interview questions are questions that are geared at understanding a candidate’s past behavior.

They help the interviewer understand how the candidate handles work-related situations, their work style, and their decision-making skills.

By analyzing their past experiences, you can gauge how well they will handle similar situations in their new role. 

Top strategic Behavioral Strategic Questions Interviewers Ask. 

  1. Tell me about a time when you made a mistake at work. How did you handle the situation?

This is a great question to ask candidates because everyone makes mistakes. How people handle those mistakes, however, differs from person to person. 

Listen closely to the candidate’s answer. Do they blame someone else for the mistake, or do they own up to it? Did they learn anything from the mistake? How did they ensure that it wouldn’t happen again? 

You’ll want to hire someone that views their mistake as an experience they can learn from and who implements what they learned. 

2. Describe a stressful situation you’ve faced at work. How were you able to manage it? 

Stress is something we all face. Most jobs induce at least a little bit of stress while others are extremely high-stress jobs (nurses, brain surgeons, police officers, you get the idea). 

Regardless of the job your candidate is applying for, constructively handling stress is important. You want a candidate that can manage a moved-up deadline or the office being understaffed without completely deteriorating under pressure. 

If you are interviewing candidates for a high-stress job, then the way they answer this question is crucial. You want to hire someone that will be able to stick it out when the going gets tough. Pay close attention to determine if they have any concrete strategies that they use to help them get through stressful times. 

3. Tell me about a time when you set a goal for yourself. How were you able to achieve it?

This question delves deeper into the candidate’s ability to propel themselves and achieve their aspirations. 

The answer to this question can give you an idea of how dedicated and ambitious the candidate is. It will also provide you with a look at their organizational skills since you need to have an established plan to achieve most goals.

A good candidate is one who can set goals for themselves and achieve them with minimal supervision, especially if they are interviewing for a managerial role. 

Situational Interview Questions 

Situational questions help you analyze your candidate’s problem-solving skills. You ask the candidate what they would do in a hypothetical situation and see how they respond.

These kinds of questions make the interviewee think on the spot and give you an inside look into their judgment and decision-making skills. 

Top Strategic Situational Questions You Can Ask Your Candidates. 

4. What would you do if you were almost finished with a project that you had worked hard on when suddenly the goals or priorities were changed?

The response you are looking for to this question depends on the role the candidate is interviewing for. 

For example, if this is for a lower-level position, you’ll mainly want the candidate to show that they are flexible and are willing to work hard to get the job done. 

If the candidate is interviewing for a higher-level position, you may want someone who is able to use their problem-solving skills to come up with a way that they can meet those priorities without redoing the entire project.

You want someone who can meet the expectations of the company while also being resourceful.

5. What would you do if you were assigned to work with a colleague on a project, but you two just couldn’t seem to agree on anything?

This question allows you to see your candidate’s conflict resolution skills working in real-time. 

You’ll want to hire someone that tries to see the situation from their colleague’s point of view and who would try to talk it out with them first.

Open communication is key, so you want the interviewee to demonstrate that they would be able to openly discuss the issues in a solution-oriented way, as opposed to getting defensive or emotional.  

6. How would you handle an instance of receiving criticism from a superior?

Criticism, while often difficult to take, is an important part of learning and helps us grow into more competent individuals. 

You’ll want your candidate to view criticism as an opportunity to learn from their mistakes.

A good candidate will acknowledge their mistake, learn from the criticism, and effectively implement the feedback. 

Be wary of candidates who view criticism as an attack on their character or who get defensive. 

Career Development Questions 

Career development questions let you know how ambitious your candidate is and tell you where they see themselves in the future.

These questions are important because you want someone who is proactive and who wants to keep growing instead of remaining stagnant. 

7. What are your long-term career goals?

This question is important because it gives you an idea of how ambitious the candidate is. 

While the candidate may mention that they eventually want to be a manager or a CEO, they should also provide you with steps on how they plan to slowly gain more responsibility in the company.

You want someone who knows that obtaining a higher position takes hard work and dedication. 

This question also lets you know whether or not your company will be able to offer the candidate the things they want in the long-term.

You want their future goals to align well with the companies, so they will be happy staying with your company in the long run. 

Have a second interview coming up, read about these second interview questions to ask candidates.


The most strategic questions to ask candidates include a mixture of behavioral, situational, and career-oriented questions.

These questions to ask an interviewee give you a look at different aspects of the candidate so that you get a well-rounded picture of what they have done in the past, their current judgment and problem-solving skills, and what their goals are for the future. 

As one of the leading engineering staffing agencies, Apollo Technical recruits engineering, design, and IT Talent. Contact us about our Engineering recruiting services or IT staffing services for more information.