17 Best Interview Questions To Ask Candidates
Interviewing candidates for a job vacancy is crucial to the recruitment process. First, you advertise your vacancy and shortlist the most suitable people. The interview comes next, in which you question your potential employees about their professional experience and background. This process will help you better understand who is a good fit for your company.
The interview phase is a nerve-wracking time for candidates, but it can also be a stressful experience for employers, as it is important to ask the right questions to ensure you choose the best person for the job.
It can be difficult to come up with the best questions, but it is important first to understand your aims with the interview and have a clear idea of what kind of candidate you are looking for.
This article will help you with a list of generic questions as well as some surprises you might want to throw to keep your potential employee on their toes.
Should I ask fun questions to candidates?
To select the best candidates, you will have to ask some standard questions, and we’ll go into them later in this article. However, you can also throw in something unusual to see how a candidate reacts when they are caught off-guard.
It all depends on what kind of skill you are looking for. Creativity will shine in really unpredictable questions, while some more specific challenges can reveal a remarkable capacity for logic-thinking and problem-solving.
With this in mind, crafting the right question is key. Provocations such as “Who would win in a fight, Batman or Superman?” are a bit of fun but don’t really have too much value in telling you how good someone will be as an employee. However, staying on the superhero theme, a better question might be, “If you could have any superpowers, what would it be and why?”. This allows you to assess the candidate’s reasoning ability and gives you an insight into their personality.
Depending on the type of role you are recruiting for, there are more questions to use to test a candidate. The old cliché “sell me this pen” may have worn a bit thin for sales roles, but you will still want to ask something that tests your candidate’s persuasive skills.
An example is, “How would you convince a colleague that your way is better than their way?”. This lets you gauge if a candidate is confident with influencing people around them.
A fun task to test your candidates’ logic is to ask them to close their eyes and tell you how to tie your shoelaces. A decent candidate would take a reasoned approach and be able to explain the task in a few simple steps.
When looking for something incredibly creative and challenging, it might be worth looking into what other companies throw at their candidates. For example, Google asks, “How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?” assessing potential employees’ logic abilities. Apple tests its candidates by asking them: “If you were a pizza delivery person, how would you benefit from scissors?”.
Questions to ask when interviewing someone
Fun and creative questions are always great, but there are more general inquiries that you would probably want to ask in an interview.
1. What do you know about our company, and why do you want to work here?
This is a great question to ask to establish if the candidate has done their research.
If someone is genuinely interested in a job, then they should at least look into your company to figure out if they will be a good fit. You would hope, since the candidate is attending the interview, that they do want to work for you, so giving some explanation shouldn’t be too challenging or demanding.
2. We are looking to offer (salary range) for this position. Does this meet your requirements?
This is a better way to ask the dreaded expected salary question if you don’t already include the salary in your job advert. It quickly establishes if the salary range is suitable for the candidate, and then you can go into the specifics once you have made them an offer.
Even if you’ve added the information to your job advert, people might have different expectations or have applied without paying attention to all the details you’ve included in the ad.
A question like this will help you assess candidates’ attention to detail, interest in the vacancy and career expectations.
3. How can you apply your skills and experience to this position?
This is another good question to ensure that candidates aren’t blindly applying for your role without much thought.
A good answer should cover your most essential requirements for the role and demonstrate how the candidate’s background meets these.
4. Can you tell me about your most recent employment?
An open-ended question like this allows a candidate to go into some detail about their current and previous work.
They may have recent experience in a similar role to your vacancy, so it is a great chance for them to talk more about the skills they have developed. Something important to be wary of would be a candidate speaking too negatively about former employers, as this is not the attitude you want from people joining your business.
5. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Asking a candidate about their future allows them to talk about their ambitions. Finding someone career-driven is great for employers, but you want to ensure the role is the right fit for their goals.
6. Do you have any questions for me?
A candidate who is well prepared should have thought of some questions to ask you to discover more about the culture of the business and the role specifically. If the interview flood well, they may have already asked you something or had their questions answered in discussions, so don’t always expect a long list of questions if they have carried themselves well throughout your conversation.
7. Can you describe a time when you overcame a significant challenge at work?
Asking candidates to recall a difficult moment in their career will help you assess how easily they face challenges and what is their approach to problems.
When evaluating a candidate, it is important to make clear problems that will likely happen in their daily routine, but how they solve them makes them stand out.
8. How do you stay up to date with industry trends and advancements?
No matter the sector your business operates in, keeping up with advancements in the industry is crucial. Your candidates should demonstrate an interest in their craft, showing a willingness to improve and grow with your company.
9. How do you handle tight deadlines and pressure at work?
This is the perfect question if you work in a demanding industry or your clients provide you with a tight deadline.
Depending on the explanation from the candidate, you will learn how they work in a fast-paced environment, or they will understand for themselves that the position you are offering is not for them.
10. How do you prioritise your tasks and manage your time effectively?
Time management is often an overlooked skill. However, the better a person can fulfil their tasks under a deadline, the less time a supervisor will dedicate to ensuring things are delivered.
11. Can you give an example of a successful project you completed and the role you played in its success?
A candidate should be able to mention a successful result and explain how their work contributed to the achievement. The question demonstrates their ability to recognise opportunities. It will also give you a glimpse into what the person can offer you and your company.
Asking for examples is a good way to encourage candidates to talk more about their careers and experiences, avoiding questions in which a simple “yes” or “no” answer will suffice.
By giving examples, the candidate will also demonstrate they understand the question and have the experience you require. They should be able to connect their story and past experience with your core business or necessities.
12. How do you adapt to new environments and work with people from diverse backgrounds?
A great work environment is diverse. The more plural your team, the better your results. Therefore, assess if your candidates are prepared to deal with a diverse workplace.
This is a great opportunity to identify if your potential employee has prejudices that would create a hostile environment or if they are welcoming and will contribute to increased diversity in your company.
13. Can you describe a time when you had to learn a new skill quickly?
If your industry is fast-paced and constantly changing, your employees might be required to learn new skills quickly. Ask them if they have already experienced that and how they dealt with it.
Some candidates might find this challenging, while others will demonstrate flexibility and eagerness to learn.
14. How do you approach team collaboration and communication?
Not every job requires great teamwork or communication skills. However, a candidate who works well with others will adapt more easily to your company and won’t be afraid to ask questions.
This question is essential if you must constantly communicate with clients and get feedback from colleagues.
15. How do you handle work-related stress and maintain work and life balance?
Someone who can’t balance their work with their personal life might end up with burnout syndrome. As dedicated as an employee is, they must also have free time and deal with stress in a healthy way.
Encourage candidates to share what makes them happy and how their other activities make them more attractive to your company.
16. Can you describe a time when you had to work independently without much guidance or direction?
Depending on the position you have available, you might want to assess your candidates’ independence and problem-solving skills.
This question will provide you with an understanding of how well they work alone or how much guidance they might need from supervisors.
17. How do you see yourself contributing to the company’s long-term goals and growth?
This question will indicate which candidates have done their research about your company and know what your objectives are, and which people are committed to growing with you.
Employees should have a mindset aligned with your company, actively contributing to the development of your business and their team.
Recruiting is a long process that has many different steps. It is not easy to find the perfect employee, but asking the right questions will give you a better chance of doing so.
Prepare yourself for interviews, keep your goals and requirements in mind and be willing to be surprised. With a few minutes of conversation, you will be able to paint a good picture of what candidates have to offer and how they can – or can’t – contribute to your company.
Ask all the basic questions, and don’t be afraid to be creative. Often, throwing a curve ball can reveal a lot, but listening to what people have to say when confronted with the most generic HR inquiries will also give you an idea of how well-prepared these people are.