10 Revealing Questions to Ask When Interviewing Job Candidates

The 10 Best Job Interview Questions

Some people are great at being interviewed. But if you’re really looking for standout hires, it’s a good idea to dig deep so that you choose the best long-term candidate instead of someone who’s especially savvy across the interview table. The following questions cover a breadth of topics and help provide valuable insight into candidates’ ability and character.

1. What did you learn about the company from our website?

It seems obvious, but it’s shocking how many interviewees skip this step. You know by how they answer whether or not they did their homework before the interview. Plus, it shows an interest in the position and dedication to the job search. How they articulate an answer also indicates how well they understand your company.

2. Why are you looking for a new job?

As an employer, you want insight into why candidates are looking for a new job. Are they looking for career advancement, better compensation, or more work-life balance? This kind of question can be very revealing about their true motivations, according to managing director of The Aces Group.

3. What was a weakness or area of improvement noted in your last performance review, and what did you do to address it?

It’s one thing to ask candidates about their weaknesses, but according to Lori Kleiman of HR Topics, how they answer this question can reveal a lot about how they respond to constructive criticism and whether they’re proactive enough to make adjustments to continually improve performance.

4. What is the most significant thing you’ve done since breakfast?

The Creative Group recently surveyed more than 400 marketing and advertising executives about the trickiest questions they ask job candidates, and this is one of them. It demonstrates how well interviewees can think on their feet and can also speak volumes about productivity, ambition, and time management.

5. You’re faced with two tasks, each of which takes two hours to complete. But you only have three hours. What do you do?

This question shows how candidates balance time management with quality of work and deadlines. Often in business, certain compromises need to be made to keep projects moving forward, and the way in which candidates answer this question reveals how they prioritize tasks, says entrepreneur Mitch Rothschild.

6. How do you stay current in your area of expertise?

Creative Financial Staffing suggests this tangential question for interviews. You quickly learn how dedicated the job candidates are to their profession. If they’re really passionate about what they do, they have specific ways to keep up with the most current trends or news in their fields.

7. Tell me about a challenge or obstacle or a time you failed at a task in a previous job. How did you handle the situation?

Robin Reshwan, founder of staffing firm Collegial Services, recommends this question to see how candidates tackle problem solving. You can evaluate how interviewees handle pressure, pushback, obstacles, and barriers to come up with creative solutions.

8. If you do not get this job, what will you do next?

A most unexpected interview question, this one gets you truly unrehearsed responses that can tell you how far candidates have planned or prepared beyond this particular role, suggests Reshwan. You might find out whether they’re interviewing for other positions, whether they get defensive about a tricky question, and how dedicated they are to finding a job that’s the right fit for themselves and for the company.

9. In your own words, describe what this role is about and why it is important to our company.

Chances are you spend a good portion of interviews explaining what the job is to candidates. Try turning this method on its head by asking interviewees to explain the job and its importance to the company. This shows you whether you and the candidates are on the same page and whether they truly understand what the role entails. Plus, if they can articulate the qualities you know you’re looking for, they’re probably a good fit.

10. What is the most recent thing you’ve learned professionally?

Alyssa Gelbard, founder of career consulting firm Resume Strategists, likes this question because it shows whether candidates seek out opportunities to learn, grow, and adapt. Whether it’s a new software system, effective management styles, or something they’ve learned about themselves, this question is key to learning about someone’s desire to take initiative and demonstrate professional maturity.

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