Best Interview Questions to Ask Job Candidates – Self-Concept

This is part five of a 12-part series.

Creating a successful and productive team starts with finding great employees who fit your organizational culture. And while you may receive hundreds of job applications and interested parties, narrowing down the talent pool to hire the right candidate for the job goes beyond what hiring managers can surmise by reading cover letters and applicants’ resumes, especially when studies show 85% of applicants lie on their resumes. This is where the art of the interview comes into play.

According to a study, although a typical interview averages 40 minutes, 33% of hiring managers decide whether they want to hire a job candidate within the first 90 seconds of an interview. To ensure you’re completely thorough and make the right decision, it’s important to ask the right questions to fully understand and evaluate a candidate. During this 12-part series, we will explore the best interview questions to ask job candidates and give a few “pro tips” along the way.

Part Five – Uncovering an Interviewee’s Self-Concept and Social Awareness

Question: How would your teammates describe you?

Follow ups: What would your co-workers outside your immediate team say about you? What would others perceive to be your most prominent characteristics and qualities?

In part four of this series, we observed the importance of examining self-awareness and growth by asking a candidate to describe their biggest weaknesses. This question is another way to analyze an interviewee’s self-concept by looking at themselves through the lens of those around them. It also shows their level of social awareness when it comes to understanding how their actions, interactions, and personality affect others.

By asking a candidate to detail how they are perceived in their workplace, you want to uncover how honest they can be when describing themselves through a third-party medium. This psychological prompt exercise shows if there is a connection between how they see themselves and how they believe others see them.

When an individual is able to connect the two, they tend to be more socially aware of their effect on others, as well as consistent and resolute in their characteristics. This prompt is also a great way to examine how well they can work in a team environment, revealing what type of “team player” they are. Answers like “lone-wolf” or “work-a-holic” reveal different results as opposed to “always available,” “fun to be around,” etc.

The follow-up questions to this answer help dig deeper into the candidate’s self-awareness concept. By asking for specific characteristics and qualities, you make the interviewee give actual, thoughtful answers as opposed to blanket statements.

Before asking this question, understand that while a great team is made up of all different types of workers, it is good to have an idea of the type of team player you would like to have. Answers should align with your corporate culture and the combined values and standards of your organizations.


If you uncover social-awareness issues, the candidate may still be a great fit. Some individuals struggle to understand how their actions are perceived by others, so see if you can find out if they are aware of how their work patterns affect others. In other words, ask how and if their working habits help others’ workload. Or moreover, ask how their personality fits with others.

What is your favorite question to ask a job candidate? How do you decide who the right candidate is? Let us know in the comments section below!

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