12 Questions You Should Consider Asking a Candidate During an Interview

By Olivia Ryan - Aug. 14, 2017
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Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Olivia Ryan – an independent journalist. Her opinions are her own.

Job interviews have always been a complex procedure. Hiring the right person for the right job is never easy, as not every individual who applies for a certain position can actually handle the job tasks. Moreover, if you make the wrong hiring decision, you are losing time, money, and dignity. Your brand’s reputation might also be tarnished.

Every negative outcome can be avoided as long as you’re hiring the right person. Yet, doing so comes with many struggles, and most of them are occurring during your interviews with prospective candidates. That is the moment where you need to say yes or no.

The toughest thing to do during an interview is to create the perfect environment that encourages your prospects to feel comfortable. They need to give you genuine answers, otherwise, the entire interviewing process is pretty useless. Yet they still need to step out of their comfort zone and answer important questions coming from your side.

In this post, we will highlight 12 questions that you should consider asking during an interview. Their purpose: to obtain the necessary details that will allow you to choose the best candidate for the job.

Remember you do not have to ask all these questions during your candidate interviews. Choose the ones that you believe to be the most relevant for your specific vacancy. Stay flexible!

1. Why did you apply for this position?

The first question is “why”. This is the best thing to ask first because the answer to this particular question can tell you a lot about the person that’s sitting in front of you.

The problem is that most prospects will tell you what they think you want to hear. In order to avoid that, encourage them to be extremely genuine. Tell them that you’re appreciating honesty more than a complex answer that’s supposed to impress you. Once you understand the reasons, you can better judge which questions to ask next.

2. Why did you leave your previous position?

Every employee has a history. Before allowing anyone to work in your company, you first have to make sure that they have given you clues about their past jobs. Ask your candidate about the reasons for leaving their previous job(s). In the event that they were let go, you need to ask why. Again, you need to insist on honesty all while making your candidate feel comfortable.

3. What do you know about our company?

If I were to give any employee tips on how to improve their shots at landing their desired job, I would tell them that researching the company is the best thing they could do.

As an employer, you should simply ask your prospective employee what they know about your company. Encourage detailed answers and observe their grade of involvement. If they truly cared about the interview, they must have done their homework before showing up.

4. What are your top three weaknesses?

Most people struggle answering this question. Why? They have never taken the time to analyze themselves. Moreover, many hate to admit their weaknesses even though they’re there.

Asking this question directly aims for the prospect’s awareness, honesty, and confidence. Someone who is not confident about his or her qualities is often going to struggle answering this question, so pay attention!

5. What is your greatest professional achievement and your biggest failure?

By asking this question, you give your candidate the opportunity to talk about their greatest career achievement as well as something that may not have quite gone according to plan. Asking about both their professional achievements and their biggest failures should also give you clues about the process and effort the person has made in order to succeed and fail.

6. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Candidates that are carefully monitoring their personal development process are very rare. Many employees treat their jobs like “hours in which they have to be there”, without really noticing where they stand.

On the other hand, there are people who are constantly looking to improve their skills and results. You can understand whether the person sitting in front of you cares about their personal development by asking this simple question. Moreover, the answer to this question is really relevant because, who knows, your employee might still work for you in five years.

7. What are you looking for in your next position?

The main purpose of this question is to understand the expectations your potential new employee has of their next role. The first answer you hear is usually what the candidate wants the most.

Furthermore, it is an opportunity for you to explain whether the job will actually be what your candidate expects it to be.

8. Why should we hire you instead of someone else?

When you started your business, you had to think about what is it that you would offer to the market that other companies couldn’t. In business terms, that is the “unique value proposition”, and it’s probably the key factor that differentiates strong brands from mediocre ones.

This question makes your candidate think about his or her unique capabilities. If he or she can give you an honest and valid reason for hiring them instead of someone else, the person sitting in front of you could be a real candidate for the job.

9. When I speak to your former employer and ask about areas for improvement, what will I hear?

Looking for instant and real answers? This question is great because once the ex-supervisor is mentioned in the discussion, the prospect has to be honest about his or her weaknesses. It’s a different way of asking “what are your weaknesses?”.

This variant is sometimes better because it is more unexpected compared to the simple one (for which answers can be prepared from home because most candidates are expecting it).

10. Describe your ideal boss.

In order to grow and nurture a productive relationship with your employees, you must first understand the way they perceive a “strong” working relationship with their superiors. The answer from your candidate will highlight his or her previous relationships with their superiors and will spark clues related to his personality type.

11. What motivates you?

If you know what motivates your candidate, you’ll be able to tell whether your company (and the job!) is suitable. Think about your candidate too, and be straight with them especially if their answer contradicts with what your company can provide.

12. What are your biggest frustrations?

You should definitely consider asking your candidate about their biggest frustrations. Your job is to understand if your candidate is going to have problems at work or not. You can also try to protect them from the things that frustrate them by assigning them different projects and tasks that are better suited towards their needs.

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Every interview is different just like every candidate and employee is different. Interviewing is simply a skill that needs to be practised over and over again. You’ll eventually get the hang of it and soon enough, you’ll be able to master it and be able to make the best hiring decisions.

The questions above can be kept and used over and over again depending on your preferences. If you notice that certain questions provide better answers than others, you should definitely make a selection and use them during your future interviews.

Olivia Ryan writes for Aussiewritings.com while also undertaking different independent journalistic research. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.



Olivia’s biggest passion is writing. That is why she is a journalist by profession and explorer by her convictions. She does different types of writing for Aussiewritings as well as different independent journalism research. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.


Olivia Ryan

Olivia’s biggest passion is writing. That is why she is a journalist by profession and explorer by her convictions. She does different types of writing for Aussiewritings as well as different independent journalism research. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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