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Top 5 Interview Questions to Evaluate Drive and Passion

Asking the right questions is a fundamental part of any interview. It’s your opportunity to get to know a candidate before hiring them and to get a better understanding of their attitude, mindset, interpersonal skills, and outlook. But what, exactly, are the right questions?

For most organizations, an interview means the candidate already possesses the hard skills to do the job. Instead of asking them about their abilities, an interview is a chance to gauge the intangibles — specifically, the drive and passion they bring to their work.

Great questions will yield answers that tell you everything you need to know about how a candidate will contribute if hired. Here are five questions that can illuminate a candidate’s passion for the position.

1. Would you mind sharing a story from your past where you showed passion and drive outside of work?

A passionate candidate doesn’t just bring their enthusiasm to their work — it’s present in other facets of their life. You might find the person you’re interviewing is a successful marathon runner or they’re trying to get a short story published in their free time. These activities aren’t just hobbies or passions — they’re examples of commitment. Look for examples of their commitment outside of a career, and gauge their enthusiasm when they talk about their persistence, perseverance, and achievements. 

2. Give me your forward-looking roadmap. If you were hired today, where do you want to be this time next year? In two years? In five years?

A driven person is always looking toward the future. A passionate candidate isn’t going to be content with just getting the job you’re hiring for — they’re going to want to see their path forward in the company. You can bet they have plans for how to climb the ladder! Ask them, point blank, how they see their role evolving, and you’re bound to get an enlightening answer from someone who’s driven to be in control of their destiny if given the opportunity.

3. What are you most looking forward to, given this role? Tell me about one aspect of this position that has you really excited for the opportunity.

Driven, passionate people aren’t content with just doing as they’re told or falling in line to follow directions. They have ideas! During the interview phase, you can learn a lot about who’s already thinking ahead and what they’re focused on by simply asking them what they’re excited about. It’s not necessarily about what, specifically, is exciting them; rather, it’s that they’re bringing focused enthusiasm to the role. If they’re eager to get started, you should be eager to take a second look at them.

4. If I gave you a project at 5 p.m. that needed to be done by 6 p.m., but the task was impossible to complete on your own in time, what would you do?

Resourcefulness and outside-the-box thinking are hallmarks of driven professionals. Faced with an impossible situation, motivated candidates will seek to find a solution by whatever means are available to them. You’re looking for someone who isn’t content to put their head down and try to meet an impossible standard. Instead, you want someone who sees opportunity in the obstacle and rises to the challenge of circumventing it. These are the people who get things done.

5. Tell me about your 30,000-foot view of this position. How do you see your work beyond your daily tasks?

A passionate candidate won’t be satisfied simply being good at their job — they’ll want to know how their work affects the greater organization. Candidates who can trace the job they’re doing to company-level goals or connect the dots between their role and others in the organization show an aptitude for understanding the bigger picture. Professionals who can look through both micro and macro lenses are invaluable additions to your team.  

Seek to learn more about the person behind the skills

Remember that the best interview questions are the ones that prompt introspection. The more a candidate can tell you about how they think and what’s important to them, the easier it is to envision their presence in your workforce. Candidates with strong drive and passion will quickly distinguish themselves, and they’re the people who will make an overwhelmingly positive addition to your culture.

For more tips on how to interview with a mind for building culture, visit

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