Successful interviews are nuanced around well-crafted strategies that allow interviewee’s to unravel their potential. Such strategies allow interviewers to obtain a spherical understanding not only of the skill set, but also of the professional maturity and character of the interviewee. Whether you’re evaluating a recent graduate or a C-suite executive, the impact of your questions – and the way they’re posed – are of crucial importance. Let’s refine our focus on strategies that highlight the candidate’s best, irrespective of their career stage.

Building a Genuine Connection

Start the interview with a friendly greeting by fostering a comfortable environment for open dialogue. Invest five minutes in pre-interview research using LinkedIn, by exploring the candidate’s interests, mutual connections, and engagement with pages and groups. Finding similarities, such as attending the same university or a common interest and stating them as part of your introduction can enhance the sense of affinity during the interview.

Structured for Success

Maintaining a structured approach facilitates candidate comparison for well-informed hiring decisions. For junior candidates, use targeted questions to reveal problem-solving, teamwork, and adaptability skills and open-end questions to decipher traits of their personality (see further info below). With senior candidates, allow flexibility, encouraging an open discussion and allowing them to lead segments, showcasing strategic thinking and leadership qualities. Be prepared for indirect responses; set the interview pathway. To elicit more detailed answers, consider asking for examples of executed strategies, making clarifications, or rephrasing inquiries. Embracing a conversational style can assist in forming a relaxed atmosphere fostering an open communication.



It is important here to mention that candidates may refrain from answering questions posed from time to time. It is in the hand of the interviewer to obtain the required answer by meticulously rephrasing from a different standpoint. For example, most candidates refrain from truthfully answering about their areas for improvement, if asked directly. What if however, a follow-on question is posed from a friends or subordinates viewpoint? Such a question triggers top of mind feelings of the candidate and allows them to feel a sense of compassion, unlocking their true self.


Inquiry with intent

The primary tools at your disposal are the questions posed. When dealing with junior candidates, explore their team project roles, emphasizing collaboration and method of task allocation amongst members, to comprehend their leadership potential, team spirit and project management abilities. Assess drive and commitment by inquiring about extracurricular activities. For mid-level and senior candidates, concentrate on extracting insights from their experience, delving into discussions about complex challenges, innovative solutions, leadership outcomes, organizational change, decision-making, and team development. Encourage a conversation to uncover foresight, problem-solving abilities, and the impact on teams and organizations. Delve into their managerial roles models to decipher their management style and cross-check by asking how a subordinate would describe their individual management style.

Deep dive into technical expertise

Assessing technical expertise is crucial. Tailor it to the career stage: for juniors, use hypothetical scenarios to test their theoretical knowledge; for seniors, discuss real-world (even company specific) case studies relating to their function of expertise to evaluate specialized knowledge in leadership contexts. Thoroughly research each position and align assessments with job description nuances for an accurate evaluation of candidates’ capabilities.

Open- Ended Exploration

Crafting open-ended questions is a crucial tool, especially when combined with the use of silence, serving different purposes based on seniority. These inquiries showcase communication skills and provide insights into problem-solving abilities. When engaging with junior candidates, you can unveil their resistance to stress, creativity and thought-process. For seniors, open-end questions may reveal undiscovered insights, strategic vision capabilities and operational expertise. Embracing open-ended questions adds a personalized touch to the interview on the candidate’s behalf, facilitating a thorough and holistic evaluation of each candidate’s suitability.

Active Listening for nuance

Active listening is essential for interviewers. Use eye contact and verbal cues to show engagement. Display empathy by acknowledging the candidate’s emotions and perspectives. Adhere to the 80-20 rule of interviewing: let the interviewee talk 80% of the time, allowing them to contribute most of the conversation for a more fruitful exchange. Interrupt candidates when off track to ensure enough time is available to cover all desired topics.

Evaluating task performance

Understanding how a candidate has performed in the past gives insight into how they will perform in the future. For junior candidates, discussions around coursework and practical applications in internships or volunteer work are key. For senior candidates, the focus should be on strategic initiatives they’ve led and their approach to navigating business complexities. It is essential to explore the projects a candidate has been involved in, detailing their specific contributions, and illustrating how these align with overall business goals. Delve directly into the fit and the desire of the candidate for the role as well as tasks they would perform once having overtaken the role.

Cultural fit and beyond

Cultural fit is crucial across all levels! Having understood the values of the company, the team environment, and the personality traits of the person managing the candidate is key in sourcing the fitting candidate. Assess ideal work environment preferences and desired behaviours for compatibility. In a strategic way, delving into company research strategically provides insight into a candidate’s sincere interest and alignment with the unique cultural fabric of the organization.

Concluding with next steps

Tailor the conclusion to the role and candidate potential, outlining next interviewing steps and processes. Prompt the candidate to openly ask questions to verify final interest. This customized closing, not only yields insights but also fosters a positive and individualized candidate experience, highlighting your commitment to thoughtful talent acquisition.

Reflective Assessment

Post-interview reflection extends beyond responses and candidate fit. Reflecting on the interview process supports continuous improvement, ensuring a refined evaluation of future candidates.


An interview is more than a conversation; it’s a strategic exchange tailored to the candidate’s career stage. By focusing on relevant questions and strategies, you can unlock the full narrative of a candidate’s potential and readiness for the role. Embrace Intellectica’s refined approach to position your firm as a leader in identifying and placing top-tier talent at your firm. Remember, the goal is not only to assess a candidate’s skills and qualifications, but also to ensure the candidate’s commitment to the next step and loyalty to the firm. Establishing an environment where they can perform at their best is key.



Athina Kantouni

Recruitment Consultant