The 25 Best Interview Questions to Ask Job Candidates


interview questions

You’ve got ten, 20, maybe 30 minutes with a candidate in an interview. How to you ensure you get the most out of the interview, so you’re left in little doubt about the candidate’s abilities and what he or she could bring to your team? You ask the right questions of course.

The Importance of Asking the RIGHT Interview Questions

interview questions

  • Identifying Skills and Competencies: Questions about strengths and weaknesses help assess a candidate’s self-awareness and their ability to articulate personal skills and areas for improvement. This is critical for understanding how their abilities align with the job requirements.
  • Evaluating Cultural Fit: Questions about character traits and knowledge of the organization allow you to gauge if the candidate’s values and behavior align with your company’s culture and ethos. A good cultural fit is essential for a harmonious and productive work environment.
  • Understanding Motivation and Commitment: Questions that explore why a candidate wants to work for your company or applied for the job can reveal their motivation and commitment levels. Candidates who have done their research and show genuine interest are more likely to be engaged and loyal employees.
  • Assessing Problem-Solving and Adaptability: Questions that invite candidates to describe past experiences with challenges, such as handling difficult customers or meeting tight deadlines, provide insights into their problem-solving skills and adaptability in various situations.
  • Clarifying Expectations and Practicalities: Questions about salary expectations, notice periods, and commuting logistics help clarify practical details that can affect the candidate’s ability to join and thrive in the role. This ensures a mutual understanding and can prevent future misunderstandings or disappointments.

Our Methodology: The Best Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

When determining the best interview questions to ask candidates, our methodology revolves around identifying questions that effectively gauge a candidate’s suitability for the role, fit within the company culture, and potential for future growth. We use a 1 to 10 rating scale to assess the effectiveness of each question in uncovering crucial aspects of a candidate’s profile, where higher scores indicate questions more likely to yield informative and insightful responses.

Assessing Technical Skills and Experience (Rating: 9/10)

We focus on questions that delve into the candidate’s technical abilities and relevant experience. This includes inquiries about their proficiency in specific skills, experiences with past projects, and how they’ve approached and solved problems in their previous roles. High-scoring questions in this category are those that reveal the depth and applicability of a candidate’s technical expertise.

Evaluating Cultural Fit (Rating: 8/10)

Questions in this category aim to determine how well a candidate’s values and work style align with the company’s culture. These often include scenarios or hypothetical situations that shed light on the candidate’s approach to teamwork, communication, and adaptability within the company ethos. Effective questions here are those that reveal insights into the candidate’s personality and work values.

Understanding Motivation and Career Goals (Rating: 8/10)

Our analysis here involves evaluating questions that uncover a candidate’s intrinsic motivation and long-term career objectives. We rate highly those questions that provide a window into what drives the candidate, their professional aspirations, and how these align with the role and the company’s future.

Identifying Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking Skills (Rating: 9/10)

We rate questions designed to challenge candidates to demonstrate their problem-solving and critical thinking abilities. Such questions often involve real or hypothetical challenges relevant to the role, offering insights into the candidate’s analytical abilities and approach to complex situations.

Testing Adaptability and Flexibility (Rating: 7/10)

In a rapidly changing work environment, questions that assess a candidate’s adaptability and flexibility are crucial. We consider those questions that explore how a candidate responds to change, manages unexpected situations, and remains effective under varying conditions.

Assessing Communication and Interpersonal Skills (Rating: 8/10)

This category includes questions that reveal a candidate’s ability to articulate ideas clearly and interact effectively with teammates, clients, or stakeholders. Effective communication is fundamental, and questions that uncover these skills are essential for almost every role.

Exploring Leadership and Team Management Skills (Rating: 7/10)

For roles that involve leadership or team management, we consider questions that delve into a candidate’s experience and style in leading teams. These questions aim to highlight the candidate’s leadership philosophy, effectiveness in team management, and ability to inspire and guide others.

Best Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

If you’ve got an impending interview and want to make sure you optimize this short space of time, both for yourself and the candidate, take a look at the following 25 best interview questions to ask candidates.

What are your strengths?

Asking the candidate about their strengths will help you determine whether their main assets are relevant to your company and the role they are applying for.

What are your weaknesses?

interview questions

We’ve all got weaknesses and if the candidate can answer this question honestly and articulately, will show self-awareness, particularly if they go on to inform you of the strategies they have in place to overcome their weaknesses.

Describe your character in less than 30 words

Another character-appraisal type question, which will help you determine if the candidate is self-aware and if he/she has the right character traits for the job.

What do you know about our organization?

This question will show how much or little research the interviewee has done about your company prior to the interview. If they manage to answer it comprehensively and correctly, will show commitment to the job, as well as possessing dedicated character traits.

Why do you want to work for our company?

Again, by answering this question in a positive and appropriate way, will show the candidate has taken the time to get to know your company, its culture and ethos, showing commitment and a good working attitude.

What prompted you to apply for this job?

This question will help you determine which of the candidates you interview are most interested in the position. The answer will also give you insight into what motivates the candidate and whether such motivations are relevant to your business and the role.

What interaction and oversight do you believe a boss should provide?

This question will provide evidence of how self-directed a candidate is. If they say they think a boss should provide constant interaction and oversight, they may require too much direction to fit into the culture of your business.

Describe your least favorite manager and why

Similar to the above question, this will give you a clearer understanding of what kind of leadership the applicant works best with, as well as their attitude to management and leadership.

Why are you leaving your current job?

Getting the candidate to tell you why they are leaving their current job will also give you an understanding of what career direction they are looking for and whether what you are offering is right for them.

What kind of working environment do you thrive in the most?

Again, the candidate’s answer to this question will help you determine if the working environment of your business is right for them.

Which achievement are you most proud of?

This achievement will also help you determine whether how well they candidate is likely to perform at your company. It will also give you insight into the candidate’s personality and what he or she deems as being important achievements,

Tell me about a time you overcame an obstacle

Problem solving skills are required at some point in almost every job. A proficient answer to this question will demonstrate the candidate has effective problem-solving skills that are likely to prove advantageous to your company.

Which are the most important attributes you will bring to our company?

This question will give you further insight into whether the candidate is right for your company and has the necessary attributes to make a successful go of the role.

What qualities make you a good team player?

Nearly every business relies on team playing and by asking this question you will have greater insight into the team playing capabilities of the candidate.

Give an example of when you used team playing skills

interview questions

This question will help solidify whether you think the candidate is a true team player.

Do you work best alone or as part of a team?

Such a question will also help you decide what type of working environment the candidate is likely to work best in and whether the tasks they will carry out will be suited to their background and personality.

Describe a time when you have met a tight deadline

If the role is deadline-driven, asking this question with an example of successfully meeting deadlines will suggest the applicant is well-rehearsed in meeting tight deadlines.

What is the one thing you would like to do better?

Similar to the name your weaknesses question, this question will demonstrate the candidate’s aptitude for recognizing weaknesses and having the necessary strategies in place to make improvements.

Tell me about a time you experienced a difficult customer and how you overcame the problem

By answering this question will help you deduce whether the applicant has the customer service skills required for the role.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

By asking this question, you are inviting the candidate to tell you more about their long-term career plans to help you determine about whether such plans will fit into the long-term aims of your business.

What are your salary expectations?

interview questions

If the salary hasn’t be outlined in the job description and in a previous part of the application process, now’s the time to check with the candidate what their salary expectation is. Naturally, if the expected salary is grossly over budget, the candidate might be too overqualified for the position.

How much notice would you need to give your current employer?

Use the interview to ask practical questions related to the job, such as how quickly the candidate could join your company if they were given the job?

How far away from the office do you live?

This question will help you understand the candidate’s situation and how far they would have to commute to get to work.

Would you consider flexi work / working from home arrangements?

interview questions

If your business offers flexi work or working from home opportunities, ask the candidate if they would be happy to work such patterns, again to see if they are likely to fit into the culture of your company.

Do you have any questions for us?

The last question should give the candidate the opportunity to ask you questions. By asking relevant and articulate questions shows commitment and enthusiasm on the behalf of the candidate and an eagerness to learn more about the company they could soon be employed with.

How to Interview

Interview Questions Summary

QuestionPurpose of Question
What are your strengths?Determines if the candidate's strengths align with the company's needs and the role.
What are your weaknesses?Evaluates self-awareness and strategies for overcoming weaknesses.
Describe your character in less than 30 words.Assesses self-awareness and suitability of character traits for the job.
What do you know about our organization?Shows the candidate's research about the company, indicating commitment and dedication.
Why do you want to work for our company?Evaluates the candidate's understanding of the company's culture and ethos.
What prompted you to apply for this job?Identifies motivations and relevancy to the business and role.
What interaction and oversight do you believe a boss should provide?Reveals the candidate's preferred management style and level of independence.
Describe your least favorite manager and why.Understands candidate's preferred leadership style and attitude towards management.
Why are you leaving your current job?Provides insight into career aspirations and suitability for the new role.
What kind of working environment do you thrive in the most?Determines if the company's environment aligns with the candidate's preferences.
Which achievement are you most proud of?Assesses values and potential performance at the company.
Tell me about a time you overcame an obstacle.Gauges problem-solving skills.
Which are the most important attributes you will bring to our company?Understands how the candidate views their contribution to the company.
What qualities make you a good team player?Assesses team playing capabilities.
Give an example of when you used team playing skills.Provides evidence of team playing abilities.
Do you work best alone or as part of a team?Determines suitability for team-based or individual tasks.
Describe a time when you have met a tight deadline.Evaluates ability to handle deadline-driven work.
What is the one thing you would like to do better?Shows recognition of areas for improvement and strategies to address them.
Tell me about a time you experienced a difficult customer and how you overcame the problem.Assesses customer service skills.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?Reveals long-term career goals and alignment with the company's future.
What are your salary expectations?Checks alignment of candidate's salary expectations with the budget.
How much notice would you need to give your current employer?Assesses practicalities of job transition.
How far away from the office do you live?Understands logistical aspects of the candidate's commute.
Would you consider flexi work / working from home arrangements?Checks compatibility with the company's work patterns.
Do you have any questions for us?Gauges candidate's engagement, commitment, and eagerness to learn more about the company.

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Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a staff writer for Small Business Trends based in the United Kingdom. Since 2006, Gabrielle has been writing articles, blogs and news pieces for a diverse range of publications and sites. You can read "Gabrielle’s blog here.".

One Reaction
  1. It all depends on why you need to hire in the first place. This should dictate the questions you should ask.

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