Top 10 Interview Questions to Ask Prospective Employees

top interview questions to ask

While unemployment is the lowest in 5 years, it is still challenging to find the best employees for your company. Not only do they need the skills to perform their job well, but they also have to fit within the company’s culture.

To hire the perfect people, it’s important to ask the right questions. This is a challenge for many small business owners because they typically talk more than the job candidate or they just ask questions which review their resume.

Top Interview Questions to Ask

Can You Tell Me About Yourself?

This is always a good introductory question. Ask and then don’t say another thing until they are done. What they actually say is not critical, but how they answer this question is.

Do they focus on personal or professional details? How do they see themselves? Does this view fit into the culture of the company?

Can You Tell Me About a Time When. . .

Many job candidates can talk in generalities about their skills and accomplishments. However, asking for a specific example is a much more effective why to discover what they have really achieved.

For example, when interviewing a sales candidate pose this to them, “Tell me about a time when you won a customer from a competitor.”

How Will You Contribute to the Company?

This will highlight their goals for the specific job and which of their skills would be most beneficial for the company. It also will tell you how they see themselves as part of a team.

Remember, their goals should match the company’s. When they deviate, employees leave.

What is a Specific Example of the Biggest Professional Challenge You Have Faced?

How a candidate faces adversity is key. Even if a project didn’t go as planned, it’s important to find out how the applicant would reacted and would remedy the problem in the future.

How Would You Solve. . .

Test them. In a professional setting, these are typically hypothetical situations or ones that have actually occurred at the company. They should demonstrate job-specific problem solving skills.

Don’t be afraid to ask them to solve problems they would face in the first month of their job at the actual interview.

Why Are You Here?

Andrew Alexander, President of Red Roof Inn, says it helps reveal what the person’s passion is. The applicant should want to work at the company, not just want a job.

Employees that are passionate about the company’s mission excel at their position.

What is Your Ideal Job?

Liz Bingham, Partner at Ernst & Young, says it helps match whether or not the person is suitable for the open job.

It reveals what their passions and strengths are.

What Areas of Improvement Were Identified in Your Last Job Review?

Andrew Shapin, CEO of Long Tall Sally, says it can show self-awareness and weaknesses when people answer this question honestly.

Where’s Your Passion?

Hilarie Bass, Co-President of Greenberg Traurig, says they only hire people who are passionate about that profession.

It helps attract committed employees that will make the business successful.

How Do You Measure Success?

This answer will tell you what the candidate values and if it matches the job compensation structure.

What are your favorite top interview questions to ask?

Interview Photo via Shutterstock

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Barry Moltz


Barry Moltz Barry Moltz gets small business owners unstuck. With decades of entrepreneurial ventures as well as consulting with countless other entrepreneurs, he has discovered the formula to get business owners marching forward. His newest book, BAM! shows how in a social media world, customer service is the new marketing.

10 Reactions

  1. Why Are You Here? – That’s a deep question and I would hold that one back for higher level positions. Many entry level positions are “just jobs” and it seems a bit unfair to ask such a question. Does that make sense?

  2. You stated “While unemployment is the lowest in 5 years”
    That is false!
    The numbers are skewed by the gov.
    If the actual job count published by the same gov. in 2008 are now less, like 9+million less jobs, that also means there are over 9 million still unemployed. We are not even close to having rosy employment numbers. There is incredible talent out there just working any job to get an income. You want to go find that talent, not wait for it to come to your business. With sales down, the best talent is what we must have in order to beat the competition. As employers we must make more of an effort to have the most talented employees, and keep them or our businesses will suffer. Then all we will be doing is buying ourselves a job, not building our business and creating good jobs.

  3. Asking questions is one way to get to know the applicant. But it’s also just one aspect of the job interview process. In order to have a better picture of what the applicant can do for the company, I think presenting situational scenarios is one way. How will they respond if this and that happen? Of course, the situation should be in relation to the job. I like how it brings in the element of surprise. This can compliment the questions you mentioned above.

  4. Barry Moltz

    Yes, developing these kinds of scenarios is key! how do you suggest going about it to make sure they work?

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