Every hiring manager wants to hire the best person for the job, every single time. So why does it work out one time and doesn’t the next? As a hiring manager, you only have one chance to decide if the applicant is the right one for the job and that’s during the interview process. How can you ensure you’re using this critical tool to its full potential? We asked successful hiring managers to share their top interview questions. The next time you conduct an interview, give these questions a try:

Question 1: “Tell me what you learned from your first paying job.”

This is a great question to start off the interview. Our earliest learning experiences set the patterns and expectations for later experiences. How you handle work situations in the beginning of your career can directly relate to how you still handle work issues.

Question 2: “Which work achievements or accomplishments are you most proud of?”

The achievements we pride ourselves on the most reveal both our strongest character traits and our strongest desires. Identifying these speaks volumes about the kind of employee the candidate can become. Remember, the number of achievements is not as important as the motivations that drove it.

Question 3: “On a scale from zero to ten, how would you rate yourself as a (job title) and why?”

Because we rarely see ourselves as others see us, the specific number the candidate cites is not nearly as important as the fact that you will be able to verify if the applicant’s number is higher, lower, or the same as perceived by the applicants former managers or supervisors when you check their references. Would you rather have an employee who undervalues or overvalues their contributions reporting to you?

Question 4: “What would you say are your two greatest weaknesses?”

This question reveals the candidate’s ability to identify the need for personal improvement. The best responses include a plan on how they are addressing the weakness. Some candidates also do an effective job turning their weakness into a positive, which indicates the candidate has good alternative thinking or good sales skills. Watch out for candidates who are unaware or will not admit that they have weaknesses.

Question 5: “What are your short and long term goals?”

The response to this question usually reveals if the candidate has personal or professional goals. If they do not have a quick response, it may indicate they do not plan ahead. Responses which indicate drive, planning and good work/life balance are especially good. You may also need to ask for more details about certain goals to gain insight into whether or not the employee intends to stay for a while or just gain a little experience and move on. Consider asking the follow-up question, “What are 3 goals that you have achieved in the past year?”

Question 6: “What type of work environment do you prefer?”

When choosing potential employees, it is helpful to know what type of environment in which they prefer to work. If the company is very professional and usually quiet, someone who likes a loud, casual environment might not be the best fit. It is sometimes good to hire someone who does not fit the mold, but it is usually best to hire people who fit your work environment.

Question 7: “What is your typical way of dealing with conflict?”

As with stress, conflicts are something we face in the workplace. Most employers look for someone who can deal with an issue without getting frustrated. Either ask for a real-life example or build a hypothetical scenario and ask how they would handle the conflict.

Question 8: “Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond to get a job done.”

This is a great question that lets a potential employee really sell themselves. Now the hiring manager can see what type of person they are really interviewing. They can also measure how out of the way this candidate had to go in order to complete their duty. This gives a clearer picture about the work ethic of the potential employee.

Question 9: “When I contact your former managers to verify your employment, what will they tell me about your performance with them?”

The candidate’s answer to this question will tell you a great deal about their actual on-the-job performance, their ability to take direction and their efforts to improve. When phrased in this way, you’ll probably get an honest answer because they know you’ll be checking with their former bosses to confirm.

Question 10: “Do you have any questions for me about the position or the company?”

The response to this question reveals the applicant’s concerns and motivators or may simply point out basic job information (benefits, hours, policies) that have not yet been communicated.