Revealing questions are more effective than behavioural questions in establishing fit in interviews.

Revealing questions:

  • Are open-ended
  • Are easy to respond to
  • Encourage candidates to talk freely about themselves

When answering revealing questions, a candidate will typically provide you with a surprising amount of insight into their personality. This is especially true if the tone and body language of the interviewer expresses curiosity and interest, rather than judgment

From any single question, you are likely to obtain information about numerous traits, such as confidence, decision-making ability, respect for the opinions of others, cooperativeness, intellectual capacity and initiative, to name just a few. Here are some examples:

  • If you were hiring a direct report, what personal qualities would you most look for?
  • What kind of support would you need to be successful in this role?
  • What qualities in your coworkers bother you the most?
  • What qualities do you appreciate most in others?
  • What is the easiest/most difficult part of your most recent role? Why?
  • What work setting have you liked the most? Why?
  • If you could change anything about your present role, what would it be?
  • What aspect of success is most important to you?
  • If your career was progressing more slowly than you wanted, what would you do?

Revealing Questions for Specific Fit Traits

Interviewers can select open-ended questions that target specific traits but should remain open to answers that move in unexpected directions. Examples include:


  • For which elements of the role would you like to have complete accountability?


  • How do you think that a boss should best support their direct report?

Ability to Motivate Others

  • How would you handle a direct report who seems unable to take direction?

Decision-Making Ability

  • If you needed to make a decision based on incomplete information, how might you handle the situation?

Questions that Probe Deeper

Even though revealing questions are more likely than behavioural questions to get candidates talking freely, many candidates will not be used to an interview that encourages a free flow of information. They may be a little shy or they may deliberately hold back. If an answer sounds superficial or you feel that you’re not getting the full story, you might ask the following types of questions to go deeper:

  • Can you tell me more about that?
  • How do you feel about that?
  • What might your other options be?
  • What other ideas/feelings do you have about it?
  • How do you think your colleagues would respond to that idea?
  • What result would you predict?What additional support would you need to accomplish that?
  • If that approach/method/action failed, what would you do then? And if that alternate approach/method/action also didn’t work, what would you do then?

Apart from providing more insight into personality traits, these secondary questions, asked with sincere interest in the answers, will shift the interview to more of a conversational exchange. This marks the beginning of rapport-building with the individual who may be joining your organization.


Determining whether a candidate is a fit with a specific role in your organization clearly involves a lot more than just asking questions in an interview.

At JW Associates, we have developed a complete fit-based approach to hiring which is outlined in Hiring for Fit: A Key Leadership Skill, by Janet Webb. Published by Business Expert Press in 2020, it is available in print and e-book.

If you would like to utilize this fit-based approach in your organization, Janet Webb is available to support you through our MANAGEMENT CONSULTING SERVICES


Please Contact Us to schedule a complimentary phone call to discuss next steps in enhancing your success rate in hiring candidates who are “THE RIGHT FIT”.