Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

Stop Ignoring These Top 10 Performance Indicators for Interview Questions

Regularly updating interview questions to make the best hiring decisions is essential to ensuring your team is composed of top performers. Yet, when you’re constantly looking outward at the latest new questions and not at your top performance indicators, any attempted improvements to the process are going to fall short. 

By adequately evaluating current employees instead, you can identify the qualities your top performers share. This cuts out the guesswork of choosing between trending traits and interview questions to assess for them — and helps you avoid possibly making costly bad hires. 

Building a strategy for identifying top performers by analyzing your key players also enables you to determine what you need to diversify your team and keep members challenged, engaged, and growing.

By repeating these steps, you can eventually collect enough data to identify the most effective interview questions for your team’s hiring needs. In fact, you can craft questions that help you find new hires with traits, skills, personality types, etc. that have proven successful across your workforce, improving your performance metrics overall.

Before you can get the ball rolling though, you need to sit down with your team and create a system to assess high-performance indicators. You also need to determine what this insight provides for your recruiting and hiring process.

This can seem like an overwhelming change to how you update your interview questions. It may be tempting to turn back and Google search ‘The Best Interview Questions of 20__.’ But first, consider these 10 performance indicators and challenge yourself to envision the top performers on your team. It’s almost that simple.


Participation and enthusiasm on the job have a significant impact on employee morale — not just the employee in question, but also how the entire team is affected. Top performers are highly engaged, and they know how to motivate their peers. This leads to higher productivity across the group.

It’s important to track engagement in employees. Not only does an employee’s satisfaction in their role influence their performance, but it also has a lasting impact on their mental well-being.

Sometimes, the demands of the job, the company culture, recognition, or reward of the role can impact employee engagement. Other times, there are distinguishable character traits engaged workers share. After all, what you get out of a job is what you put into it. 

Identifying these qualities in engaged employees and surveying your team to determine why they are engaged (or disengaged) helps inform the questions you create to hire engaged talent. As a bonus, you get the opportunity to revamp your HR process and keep team members motivated to perform well.


When it comes to rating communication in the workplace, you want to look at a few factors. High performers may require different levels of communication skills, whether written or verbal. Depending on the nature of your workforce, you may need employees to communicate effectively through email/chat instead of in person, or vice versa.

No matter how you need your team members to communicate, their message needs to be clear. And they need to exercise effective listening skills. Communication goes both ways.

Looking at how top performers on your team use their communication skills to complete tasks timely and accurately, both independently and when collaborating with peers, helps you identify well-rounded new hires. In addition, you can find out what your best communicators do to keep their skills sharp and how they deal with situations when communication is not clear. 

This performance indicator gives you insight into discovering candidates with similar communication skills, ensuring their seamless transition onto the team.


Regardless of whether your workforce self-manages from remote roles or works under supervision in the office, high performers take the initiative. This includes meeting deadlines, planning ahead, tracking progress, seeking learning and development opportunities, asking for and offering assistance, etc. Self-motivation is a skill that can be practiced, but it’s also innate to a degree. 

You likely have high performers who actively seek out ways to stay focused, meet and exceed goals, and sharpen the skills they need to keep on task. Discovering talent within your team capable of overcoming obstacles and maintaining high-performance levels through changes in tools and procedures gives you the ability to screen for similar skills.

These key players may not always stand out as those leading discussions and team projects or recommending new tools and ideas. Instead, they may be employees who quietly but consistently exceed individual goals and create task management strategies to stay on track — no matter the circumstances around them. Paying careful attention to these details ensures you pick up on those who take the initiative, even if they are more introverted.


Being curious or creative isn’t necessarily a traditional marker of a high performer, but more leaders are catching on to tracking and seeking out these traits. Employees who are curious and agile are more likely to exhibit resilience in the workplace.

In 2020, Survey Monkey revealed in their “How to Adapt and Thrive in Times of Crisis” report that companies that survived and thrived through the global pandemic were most likely to have employees who exhibited these traits.

Your curious employees are willing to seek out new opportunities and look for solutions. They are likely to look to measurable data and feedback to inform their decisions. And those who are agile will adapt quickly to changes to maintain order in their daily tasks and across their team. 

Creating questions to identify talent that exhibits this level of adaptability and innovation helps you build a team that can overcome challenges and perform well through changes.


Managing stress under pressure is a valuable trait, especially in employees who work from home and cannot seek immediate help from their team. However, the ability to take on a challenge and solve a problem to keep on task is remarkable. This is true whether employees work remotely or in the office. 

Being curious, creative, and agile (as mentioned above) typically lends to being a solid problem-solver. But problem-solving is a complex skill. This trait requires more than a desire to explore options with a level head. Problem-solvers are determined to resolve conflicts and will call on their skills — and the knowledge and skills of others — to find a solution. 

This level of determination and drive is easy to identify through situational and behavioral questions. You can identify problems your team has faced and solved to develop practical scenarios and then challenge candidates to develop realistic solutions.

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EQ) has rapidly grown into a buzzword, but for a good reason. High performers are more likely to exhibit high levels of EQ. (Learn more about EQ.) In fact, this is the primary reason they are resilient and remarkable problem-solvers.

Most importantly, they can help maintain a calm and collected emotional state across the team when problems arise. They don’t let stress or hostility cloud their judgment or negatively impact their behavior toward peers or customers. 

There are several tools and tests to assess for emotional intelligence. The Predictive 6 is an example of an assessment scale to measure employees’ strengths and weaknesses based on vision, composure, tenacity, reasoning, collaboration, and health. 

Analyzing high-performing employees based on these factors helps you determine what tests and interview questions work best to assess candidates for EQ ahead of joining your team.

Peer review

While performance reviews are a great way to gauge how an employee performs on paper, peer reviews are very telling. Taking a hard look at whether co-workers feel supported by or connected to an employee speaks volumes about how much they contribute to the team, both personally and professionally.

Hitting deadlines and producing top-quality work is only one part of an employee’s overall performance. Team members who feel disconnected from the team are less likely to reach their full potential. And they are more likely to drag down team morale if their attitudes and contributions in the workplace are negative.

Managers cannot always be on the frontlines, and unfortunately — even when they are — they are not always going to get an accurate picture of how employees interact or perform. Collecting feedback from peers helps get a scope on the big picture. 

You can collect information regarding what traits are valued by your team and use those details to form questions to assess candidates for similar qualities.


Everyone has good and bad days at work. Sometimes you just can’t stay focused. Maybe you had a bad night’s sleep, skipped breakfast, or you have a pressing family issue distracting you. But high performers generally exhibit consistent and predictable output. You and your team know you can count on these employees to pull their weight; if not, dig in and do more. 

When a high performer drops the ball, it’s less likely to affect team morale ongoingly than someone who constantly misses deadlines or shows up unprepared for team meetings. Naturally, you’re not going to let consistent poor performance or behaviors continue. But what are you doing to identify the team members who routinely contribute and even go above and beyond?

For starters, you can assess employees for consistency and identify what habits and routines make certain employees successful. You can then use this information to create behavioral questions to find talent with equally promising patterns in their previous work performance.


The purpose of a performance review is to offer constructive feedback. It’s not just a recap of employees’ goals. They generally know if they’ve hit or missed the mark. Even employees who have exceedingly high-performance rates benefit from a sit-down with leaders.

High performers recognize the value in these reviews and work alongside leaders to construct strategies to enhance their performance. Not only that, they also follow through and show actionable improvement.

Assessing employees for improvement is a little trickier when updating your interview questions because it’s not a one-and-done deal. You need to track how they respond to feedback and what lasting changes they make over time. However, the benefits of identifying how well employees improve following performance reviews are numerous.

You track how well employees develop their skills. But you can also determine how effective your feedback is and whether you’re offering your employees the proper resources and support to improve their performance. 

This information reveals how you should form your interview questions to identify candidates who strive to improve consistently and how to develop your team.

Leadership potential

Of course, high performers do not have to show interest in leadership roles for their leadership potential to be of value. Some competent employees prefer not to take the reins. However, leadership potential is a great performance indicator to track.

Even if these employees don’t want to be in charge, they still want to set a positive example for others to follow. They care about their performance and their team, so they step up and push outside their comfort zone when a situation demands it. 

Assessing employees for leadership potential helps you identify traits that motivate your team to perform better, whether during collaborations or just by proximity. Hiring more employees with leadership potential means building a high-performing team while creating more opportunities for a robust internal mobility strategy. This secures your team’s success now and in the future.

The Complete Guide to Data-Driven Recruiting

Josh Tolan

Josh Tolan is the Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform used by 6,000+ customers in over 100 countries.