Read Time 11 minutes
Author udrafter
Date September 17, 2021

25 of the Best Job Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

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If you’re looking to hire a new employee for your business, it’s exceedingly important to become familiar with the correct questions to ask during the interview process. By conducting thorough interviews, you’re much more likely to hire someone who can succeed at the job and adjust to the workplace culture. Through an interview, you’ll be able to gauge the applicant’s skill set, relevant experience, and if their personality is suitable for the position.

Without performing an in-depth interview with each applicant, chances are high that the person you end up hiring won’t meet your expectations.

When developing questions for the interview, it’s essential to probe the interviewee for information that you can’t find on their resume or cover letter. Instead of asking questions like “what university did you graduate from?” try to steer toward questions that will give you a glimpse into their work ethic and personality.

Before scheduling an interview with an applicant (or several), be sure that your interview questions fall within these five categories: ice breakers, personality and culture, skills and experience, industry knowledge, and knowledge about the company and role they are interviewing for.

Keep in mind that during a phone interview, the interviewer should only ask around three to five questions. When it comes to an in-person interview, employers can get away with asking more questions. It’s smart to prepare around 10 questions when you’re meeting a prospective employee for a formal interview.

For further tips and examples of questions to ask during a phone screening or in-person meeting, check out our list of top 25 questions to ask during an interview.

Ice Breakers

Starting off with some light ice breaker questions is a great way to ease some of the interviewee’s nerves that they are likely experiencing. In general, talking about yourself and your hobbies can be rather soothing.

These questions can also help you get a feel of what sort of professional relationship you could have with your prospective employee.

Example 1: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

This question is always the perfect way to start the interview as it doesn’t jump right into the logistics and provides them with the opportunity to warm up. When answering this question, the interviewee can touch on where they grew up and how they got into the field that they are currently in, along with mentioning a hobby or two.

This question is almost always the first thing to be asked in an interview. Employers can gain a lot of insight from this one simple ice breaker question. For example, they can catch a glimpse into how confident the applicant is, what their passions and goals are, and how they present themselves to future employers.

Example 2: What are two things that you would consider yourself good at?

While you may consider yourself to be good at making a mean cocktail, an interviewee should try to think of an answer that is appropriate and can be relevant to the position. For example, saying that you’re good at soccer, which is a team sport, can demonstrate that you work well with others and that you’re a social person.

For those who want to seem more academic, stating that you’re great at motivating others in a group setting will most definitely impress potential employers. If you’re the one asking this in an interview, be sure to jot down the applicant’s answers and ask a few follow-up questions to gain further insight.

Example 3: Who is someone that you look up to?

This question will help you get a look into who the interviewee finds inspiring and who they try to model themselves after. Even if their answer seems a bit strange (like a celebrity or someone from a reality television show) be sure that they tell you why they find them inspiring and motivating.

Yes, Kim Kardashian does post scantily-clad photos on the internet but she has also built herself an extremely impressive empire. It all depends on why they look up to the person that they choose.

Example 4: What do you like to do in your spare time?

This lighthearted question allows the candidate to give the interviewer a look into their everyday life and what they do for fun. Employers are able to see if the interviewee would be a great culture fit depending on what they like to spend their free time doing. For example, if you’re trying to foster a creative and adventurous environment at the office, try to hire someone that likes to go on trips or go to concerts when they aren’t at work.

Example 5: What is something we wouldn’t find out about you from your LinkedIn profile?

When answering this question, an interviewee should take the time to craft an answer that will make them stand out in all the right ways. On someone’s LinkedIn, you can generally find all of their education and work history. If an interviewee hasn’t listed some volunteer work or has an interesting side hustle or hobby that shows initiative, this is a great time to mention it.

Personality and Culture

While the ice breaker questions give employers some insight into the applicant’s personality, these questions will help you determine if they will fit into the culture at your workplace.

Even if an employee is incredibly smart and great at their job, they might not get along with your other employees or they might not feel happy while at the office. That’s why it’s essential to find out if your prospective hire will fit in with the existing employees and staff, and if they can manage the workload.

Example 1: What gets you most excited about coming to work?

If their answer includes collaborating with coworkers but they are interviewing for a position that requires minimal interaction with others, they might not be a good fit for the role.

But if their answer aligns with your business’s culture, then they’ll likely feel satisfied and fulfilled at the job. This question gives employers a glimpse into what the interviewee finds important in the workplace.

Example 2: What did you like the most at your last company and what did you like the least?

This question can give you some insight into how they treat their previous employers. It’s hugely important that the interviewee doesn’t slam their past employer but answers the question with respect.

If the interviewee disliked the hands-on management style of their previous employer, hiring them might not be the best decision – particularly if you have a similar leadership approach. But if they enjoy the level of responsibility that they had, this shows that they take initiative and can be trusted with tasks.

Example 3: What are your plans for the next five years?

While most people hate being asked this in an interview, it gives the employer a lot of information in terms of goals, culture fit, and drive. Every business wants to hire employees that want to gain responsibility, learn, and work their way up within a company so interviewees should always incorporate that into their answer.

If your business wants die-hard employees but the applicant states that they want a job that can fund their travel adventures, they might not be a great fit as they might not be fully dedicated to working.

Example 4: What does work-life balance mean to you?

By asking this question, an employer can find out the interviewee’s expectations and definition of work-life balance. This is a great way to gauge whether the candidate is at a stage in their life where they prioritise their career.

If their answer errs on the side of them disliking over time but they are interviewing for a position that will require them to put in some overtime hours, they won’t achieve the work-life balance that they desire. While work-life balance is important, an interviewee should avoid talking about work simply as a means to make money.

Example 5: How do you manage conflict with coworkers?

Do they tackle issues with others promptly and professionally or do they go around the office spreading gossip?

It’s imperative that an employer gets a sense of how the interviewee communicates and overcomes conflict with coworkers before they are hired. It’s never a good idea to let issues brew for long periods of time.

Look for the candidate that showcases that they have the listening skills, patience and ability to understand another person’s perspective.

Skills and Experience

Applicants’ resumes always touch on their skills and experience but it’s always a great idea to hear them elaborate on their skillset and relevant knowledge in person.

These questions can get an employer insight into the interviewee’s leadership style, ability to problem solve, time management, and much, much more.

Example 1: Describe a time when your workload was heavy and explain how you handled it.

This is more of a polite statement rather than a question but the interviewee should answer it in the same manner. Their answer will give you a look into how they work under pressure and how much they can comfortably handle.

Hiring someone who can only juggle one or two tasks before they become overwhelmed is never a good idea. Instead, look for someone who mentions that they thrive under pressure and how they prioritize tasks and time management to ensure that everything is completed on time.

Example 2: What is your greatest strength? And what is your greatest weakness?

Applicants should always expect to be asked these two questions when interviewing for a job.

It shouldn’t be too hard for an interviewee to answer the part about their greatest strength but their greatest weakness is where potential employers really pay attention. While you want to be honest, it’s important that an interviewee picks a weakness that can also be thought of as a strength.

These two questions will give the employer a look into what they can expect if they hire the interviewee. It’s important to hire someone whose strengths will be indispensable in your workplace.

Example 3: What motivates you?

By asking this question, an employer can learn how their prospective future employee prefers to be motivated at work. If their answer seems unreasonable, they might not be a good culture fit.

However, if they prefer to be motivated in a way that you can certainly provide, this is the best-case scenario. Interviewees should suggest that working in a team helps them stay (not become) motivated or working with their superior to set goals is what works best for them.

On a more personal note, the interviewee can also touch on something in the role that they feel passionate about as passion is always the best motivator.

Example 4: Sell me this *pen* or another object that is nearby

Though this isn’t a question, having the interviewee sell you something is a superb way to catch a glimpse into their sales experience and tactics.

This is especially important if the role they are interviewing for is sales-oriented. The interviewee should feel comfortable selling you the pen or object and should do so in a professional, non-aggressive or pushy manner.

If they have the power to convince you, hiring them would most definitely be a great move for your business.

Example 5: What can you contribute to this company?

This question allows the interviewee to touch on their relevant skills and experience, showing their prospective employer how they can contribute to the company.

It’s important that the interviewee’s answer is concise and only touches upon their skills and education that is relevant to the role they are applying for. While you can find information about their knowledge and experience on their resume, asking them this question can let them expand on the skills they are most proud of.

Industry Knowledge

Questions that are specific to the industry in which your business falls will help employers gain a better understanding of their general knowledge and relevant experience. It’s also a great way to see if the interviewee cared enough to prepare for the interview as it’s important to research the ins and outs of an industry before going for an interview.

Not only should an interviewee research the company to which they are applying but they should also research current industry trends and other applicable information.

Example 1: Why are you interested in working for this company?

While most interviewees are just looking for a job to pay the bills, you want to see that they are well-versed in the field and can add to your company.

This question will show you if the interviewee took the time to research the company and if they are knowledgeable about the industry. It’s definitely risky to hire someone that is completely unfamiliar with the industry that they are trying to get into.

Talking about the industry is a really great way for an interviewee to separate themselves from others who are interviewing for the same job opening.

Example 2: What is your relevant work experience?

By asking this question, you can get a sense of what kinds of transferable skills and work experience the candidates have to contribute to your company. You’ll also be able to find out how long they have worked in the industry as you may not want to hire someone who is considered “green”.

Within their answer, the interviewee should touch upon their previous work experience that can be applied to the job duties and expectations of the role that they are interviewing for.

Example 3: What do you find interesting and exciting about the industry?

Whether you’re working in sales, communications, public relations, health care, or law, the interviewee should always be able to note a few things that they enjoy about the field. If they are unable to do this, they might not be the best hiring choice.

Through their answer, you can gain insight into just how much experience and passion they have toward the industry and subject matter they will be dealing with on a daily basis. It’s really important to hire individuals who find their job interesting as it will reduce the chances of burnout or general unhappiness at work.

Example 4: How did your education prepare you for a job in this industry?

This question allows interviewees to touch upon their education without going off on too many tangents. Instead of discussing all of it, making the question industry-specific will ensure that they only talk about their education that is relevant to the industry.

If an interviewee’s academic background isn’t entirely relevant to the industry, they could still find aspects of their education and draw some parallels. If they can do this successfully and confidently, they might have the knowledge and inquisitiveness that will hugely benefit your company.

Example 5: How do you stay up to date with industry trends and information?

By asking this question, you can see if the interviewee takes initiative and cares enough to subscribe to newsletters or frequently browse websites that contain information on the industry.

If an interviewee subscribes to seven different newsletters from reputable industry sources, it’s safe to assume that they feel passionate about the content and that they want to further their knowledge. If a candidate doesn’t stay up-to-date in the industry, you may not want to add them to your team.

Company and Role-Specific Questions

Before interviewing for a specific job, the interviewee should have thoroughly read through the job description, expectations, and duties. These sorts of questions can help an employer find out if the interviewee knows what type of role they are getting into or any other company-specific details.

It’s always the best-case scenario if an employer is able to find someone who is already familiar with many of the tasks included in the role they are hiring for.

Example 1: How is success measured in your current role?

This question allows an employer insight into just how well the interviewee understands their current role and what is expected from them. This will make the hiring transition much easier on all parties as the new hire will already be familiar with what they need to do in order to be successful at the company.

Example 2: What about this role interests you the most?

If the interviewee didn’t properly read the job posting, this is where an employer will find out. This question gives you an insight into what originally nudged the candidate to apply for the job, which speaks upon what they find interesting and enjoy doing.

Their answer will likely reflect on their strengths as well. Most people are interested in performing tasks that they are comfortable with and excel in. However, a lot of people do enjoy a good challenge.

Example 3: Why should we hire you?

This question really just gets straight to the point. Before answering, an interviewee should reflect upon their interview thus far and highlight something that seems the most important to the company and role.

If the role requires the juggling of several projects at once, it would be wise for the interviewee to draw upon their excellent time management skills and how that can benefit the company.

This question should be asked toward the end of the interview as it’s a chance for the interviewee to give their final pitch.

Example 4: What are your salary expectations?

Asking an interviewee what their salary or wage expectations are can be a great way to judge how comfortable they are asking for what they deserve.

Their salary expectation will also reflect on their confidence and willingness to go after what they want. If the interviewee is looking for a salary that is completely out of the question, this is a great way to weed out those who won’t get a second interview.

Example 5: What does your ideal day at work look like for you?

By no means should this be the last interview question that you ask. Instead, you should ask the interviewee if they have any questions for you at the end.

This question will give you a look into what sorts of tasks the candidate would enjoy in the role they are hiring for. If the interviewee mentions a task that isn’t listed in the job description, it’s also an opportunity for an employer to add additional tasks to the role if it’s something the new hire would enjoy.

If they list a bunch of tasks that aren’t relevant to the role they are interviewing for, it’s best to repost the job posting and search for better-suited candidates.

What’s next?

If hiring a full-time employee is not the right move for your business at this point, outsource skilled interns for your flexible project on Udrafter to save resources and increase productivity.

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