This is a typical format that we use for Appreciative Interviews. It’s four simple questions and might take 20-40 minutes, depending how much depth you go into.

The aim of the appreciative interview is to unearth stories of times when things went exceptionally well – times which are often overlooked in the rush to identify and solve problems.

By reminding ourselves of what is important about these peak experiences, we have a clearer idea about what we want to do more of in the future. We also start to feel better about our work, our organisation, our team, and ourselves.

You can modify these ‘generic’ questions according to the subject of your appreciative inquiry. Here they are:


  • What has been your best experience of your professional life – a time when you felt most alive, most engaged, and proud of yourself and your work?




  • What’s really important about this experience? What do you value most about it?




  • What do you value most about your work?




  • Without being overly modest, what do you value most about yourself and the way that you do your work?


Remember, you are after stories and the motivating emotions they evoke, rather than detached conceptual analysis.

We find that the ‘what do you value most about yourself’ question works best after the other three – tradionally modest Brits (and this is probably true of Aussies and Kiwis too) might feel inhibited if they were asked to blow their own trumpets with no warm-up! Maybe in the US it would be easier…

Appreciative Interview Format

4 thoughts on “Appreciative Interview Format

  • I’m currently in the midst of interviewing for jobs in the US. What a refreshing read this article is after the brutal interview experiences of the past month. Few questions seem to revolve around the positive aspects of work, the appreciation I may have for myself as a professional, or discussions around what I truly value in my work or life. More often the questions are around – tell me about a time when you really blew it, when you failed miserably, when you had conflict with someone, etc. AND the kicker – the answer isn’t accepted if you add what you learned from it, or how you turned it into a positive in the end. The most disturbing part for me is that I’m applying for roles in Leadership Development, Organization Development and Human Resources. I have been in my own consulting practice for the last 5 years; I thought things were shifting in the corporate arena, but maybe not. Anyway, thank you for this breath of clean, fresh air!

  • Hi,

    So, if you’ve never really blown it in a big way, you’re screwed!

    The appreciative interview format outlined in the article is more usually used to gather information about what’s working within an organisation rather than in job interviews, but a few more appreciative questions in job interviews certainly wouldn’t hurt.

    The questions you would like to get around what you value are particularly crucial – any organisation or team has a set of values (whether explicitly stated or not) so how would the interviewers know if you’re going to fit in if they don’t find out what’s important to you?

    Thanks for your comments!

    Andy Smith

    1. Also, looking at it from the interviewer’s point of view, asking some appreciative questions at the start of a job interview will help the candidate relax and open up a bit so you can see more of the real person.

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