These Top 5 Interview Questions Really Work

Companies that are hiring in the commercial real estate space have a lot at stake in asking interview questions. The cost of hiring the wrong professional in such a high-stakes industry is significant. Botch the interview, and you may not know if you’re hiring a top performer or a serious liability.

So what’s the silver bullet? How can you get a candidate to open up about their experience and find out if they’re really right for your unique needs?

The Wrong Way to Interview

Too many interviewers ask superficial or irrelevant interview questions that don’t really work. Superficial interviewing is common because it’s easy. It follows in the footsteps of established norms, not considering whether or not the system even works. Some of these shallow interviewing questions that fail to deliver might include:

  • Tell us about yourself.
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Are you a team player?
  • Why did you apply for this position?

These and many other interview questions simply don’t work – especially in the commercial real estate industry. They fail to get past the superficial façade and determine if the potential hire is a real fit or not. These interview questions are great for gauging how well someone memorized canned responses or how good they are at interviewing. But they don’t actually answer the number one question you need to nail down an answer to.

Are they right for this job?

The Right Interview Questions

There is no silver bullet – no one, single interview question you can ask to get a candidate to open up their soul and show you all their potential, strong points, weaknesses, and value. And this is why you’ve no doubt had candidates that aced an interview go on to bomb as an employee and vice versa.

But there are key questions that can address the primary components of your task.

So what makes the difference? What is the right way to approach interview questions? What are some really powerful questions to ask candidates to identify the right people for your team?

  1. Can you provide a specific example of a situation in which you took initiative and went above and beyond? Initiative is a key trait for success, and this interview question gets right to the heart of the matter to determine if your potential hire has it.
  2. Can you share a specific example of a task you completed by overcoming significant hurdles? This question works, because it shows you just how much skill and determination your potential hire has in execution – another key trait for success.
  3. Can you discuss a specific opportunity you had to lead in a team setting to achieve a particular goal or outcome? Leadership and teamwork are crucial success traits, and this strategic interview question gives you the opportunity to understand your interviewee’s abilities beyond themselves in leading and working with others.
  4. In this particular role, ____ is crucial to success; would you please share with us a specific situation in which you demonstrated this success factor? This interview question works, but it requires you to do a little thinking beforehand. What is one of the most important factors or skills your new hire must have to excel in this position? Find a creative way to ask about their experience with this trait, and you will gain insights directly corresponding to the role.
  5. How would you translate this success factor from your previous job into this role? This is a powerful interview question that reveals proactive and creative aptitude in changing circumstances. Your company culture and requirements are unique, and this question opens up for you whether or not this potential hire will excel there and benefit your mission.

Make sure to shape your interview questions around the mission and values of the company as well to ensure employees are living your brand. Also, there are numerous other questions you might ask specific to technical skills in the role. But orient your interview questions around identifying these five core strengths (or weaknesses), and you will have a powerfully accurate understanding of the professional sitting at the other end of the interview table.


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