Hiring the wrong candidate can be a costly mistake. Not only do you have to start the recruiting process all over again, but you also lose productivity while training the new hire.
To avoid making a bad hire, asking the right applicant questions in an interview is essential. But with so many different things to consider, it can be challenging to know what questions to ask an interviewee.
Here are (in our opinion!) some of the best questions to ask when interviewing candidates. By asking these questions, you can better understand whether the candidate would be a good fit for your company.
What are the most important questions to ask when interviewing candidates?
When interviewing candidates, it is important to ask questions that will help you assess their suitability for the position. The most common questions include the following:
- Tell me about yourself
- Why do you want to work for this company?
- What are your greatest strengths?
- What is your biggest weakness?
What format should I use to ask the applicant questions?
Start by asking an open-ended question such as “What is your greatest strength?” or “How would you describe yourself?” This will allow the applicant to provide more detail about their experience and what makes them qualified for the position.
Follow up with more specific questions related to their resume or job description. This will help you better understand how they will fit into your organisation’s culture and contribute to the overall success of the team/company/project they’re applying for.
Ask follow-up questions. These may be necessary to clarify any points that may be unclear in their response or if there are any areas where they need further development.
The 18 most effective questions to ask candidates during an interview
What do you know about our company, and why do you want to work here?
This question can help determine how keen the candidate is for this position. Have they taken the time to research, or have they just applied for every job they see with little consideration? It’s also a great way to start considering if the applicant shares the same values and wants to work towards the same mission as the business.
Do you like working with a team or working alone?
Working with a team can benefit both the individual and the company. Teamwork skills such as accepting feedback, resolving issues, recognising the strengths of other individuals, and helping foster a healthy work environment are essential for any role. Additionally, promoting a culture of teamwork helps improve communication and collaboration on a company-wide level. Working as part of a team can help motivate employees to achieve more than they would working alone.
What are your greatest strengths to a company?
This question can help assess a candidate’s transferable skills, such as leadership and management, communication, problem-solving, and teamwork.
What career accomplishment makes you most proud?
It’s important to hire someone who takes pride in their work. Asking the candidate to share their favourite career accomplishment gives insight into what makes them feel fulfilled. By asking this question, you can better understand if their desired role aligns with what they are capable of accomplishing. For example, they talk about a challenging project they completed or an award they received for their work. In that case, it indicates that they take pride in the achievements related to their job.
Tell me about a difficult work situation and how you overcame it.
This can help you assess how the candidate manages difficult situations and how they might handle these situations in the future.
Tell me about a time you had to manage a hefty workload. How did you handle it?
Knowing how a candidate handles stressful situations is essential, so this question can help you assess that and discover how comfortable the candidate is when asking for additional help.
Describe a time when you had to work with someone whose personality or work style was very different from yours.
In an ideal world we’d get on with everyone, but that’s not the reality. This question gives you a great insight into how a candidate can work with other members of a team and how they handle working with colleagues with different personalities or work styles.
You’re behind schedule, and a client or employee needs your help; how do you respond?
This question will help you understand how a candidate works under pressure and give insight into their problem-solving and communication skills.
What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on in a past position?
It’s essential to find out what motivates candidates and what lights them up. If they’re in a role they are passionate about, they will naturally be more productive and engaged. This question can help you discover those motivators.
Tell me about a time you failed to reach your goal.
There are usually two types of answers to this. The over-confident applicant will often say they’ve never missed a goal; however, an honest and authentic applicant will talk about failing to reach a goal and what they learnt from it. They will also talk about how it’s changed how they work in the future.
How would your previous coworkers describe you?
How would your boss describe you?
Both of these questions will help you understand how self-aware a candidate is. It will also give you an insight into their personality, teamwork skills and how well they might fit into your business.
What do you value in your work relationships?
When teams have shared values, they naturally work together in a more productive and motivated way. This question enables you to determine whether a candidate’s priorities align with the business goals, what they prioritise in the workplace and what drives their behaviours.
What is your ideal culture to work in?
Typically asking interviewees what their ideal culture to work in is can help you determine if they would be an ideal fit within the company. You want to ensure that the potential employee is comfortable with the work environment and that it suits their needs.
What are your long-term career goals?
Obviously, this question allows you to determine whether the candidate’s career goals fit with the opportunities at your organisation. However, this question can also help you assess a candidate’s goal-setting abilities and motivators.
What are some weak points you can work on?
Applicants usually dread this question; however, it is an excellent way to see how they maintain composure under pressure. It’s also a great way to assess the candidate’s level of self-awareness and if they are willing to work on their weaknesses.
What’s one fact that’s not on your LinkedIn profile?
This question is great for getting to know a candidate more personally. You may find they have an exciting hobby, volunteer for a charity, or even have a hidden skill they haven’t shared. Questions like these can also help the candidate feel more relaxed in an interview environment.
Why are you leaving your current employer?
This is another question that applicants dread. However, it’s essential to establish that their reason for leaving couldn’t happen at your organisation.
For example, they left their last job because there was a lack of progression opportunities. In that case, you have to decide if you have a clear progression path for the candidate or if they’re maybe not the right fit.
Asking the right questions during an interview is critical to hiring the best candidate for the job. We partner with our clients to shortlist candidates and provide support throughout the recruitment process. Need help hiring the best talent for your business? Get in touch!