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15 Strategic Questions to Ask Job Candidates during an Interview 

Updated on Apr 20, 2021 2289 views
15 Strategic Questions to Ask Job Candidates during an Interview 

When you hear the words job interview the next thing that comes to your mind is 'preparation'. When we talk about taking advantage of the interview process, preparation is key, but this does not apply to job seekers alone - it is also important for you as a recruiter.

Research shows that 78% of job seeker lie in the resume. This shows how important the interview process is to find out who the candidate says he/she is.

Your conversation with a job candidate during the interview helps you determine whether a job candidate is a good fit for the position and the company in general.

The conversation you have with a job candidate during the interview may not reveal if the candidate is a great fit unless you ask the right questions. There are strategic questions that will reveal if a candidate is a good fit for the role.

On average, most interviews last between 45 minutes and a whole hour. (Top Echelon). Therefore, you have to take advantage of every minute to get the information you need to make your hiring decision by asking the right questions.

What kind of questions reveals a job candidate suitability?

These are the 15 strategic job interview questions you should ask candidates beyond the “tell me about yourself” question. Let us look at the strategic questions you should ask during your next sit-down with a potential hire.

1. What attracted you to apply for this position?

This question is important because it helps you know if the job candidate understands the position that they are applying for. 

What is the reason for this question? 

This question will help you find out if the candidate is enthusiastic about the position, company or if they just blindly applied for the position because they required a job.

What can this question help you discover?

  • Asking job candidates this question can help you discover the following:
  • The strength of your job description.
  • The effectiveness of your employer branding.
  • The goodwill of your staff members.

 

2. What motivates you to work?

This question appears simple, but it requires the candidate to think deep to discover what motivates them to work.

What is the reason for this question? 

This question will help you know what exactly will spur that particular candidate to give their best to the job. Different things motivate different employees’ asides from the “paycheck”.

What can this question help you discover?

  • This question will help you discover what job motivation technique works for your potential hire.
  • If the current work system you are running can motivate your prospective hire.
  • If you can afford to motivate that candidate based on the response that they give.

 

3. Describe your ideal workspace

This kind of question will require the job candidate to explain and describe. Remember to let them talk without interrupting. Interrupting or asking questions in-between may influence the candidate’s response.

What is the reason for this question? 

The main reason you are asking this question is to find out if your current workspace fits into the candidate’s description.

What can this question help you discover?

  • Whether or not your workspace is ideal for your prospective hire.
  • The loopholes in your workspace that you did not notice.
  • If your current workspace is below standard or may be responsible for your employees’ reduced productivity.

 

4. Tell me something about yourself that others may be surprised to know.

This is an open-end question thaat will require the candidate to respond to the question in any way they can. This question will help you learn something tangible about the candidate that you may not know when you ask other interview questions.

What is the reason for this question? 

The question will allow you to get some information about the job candidate that they may not include in their CV.

What can this question help you discover?

  • Other things that interest the candidate.
  • Other skills that the candidate has acquired that is not included in the CV or related to the position.
  • Other things that motivate the candidate.

 

5. What is your ideal position and why?

Sometimes job candidates may apply for a position, but they are more suitable for another position. This question offers the job candidate an opportunity to share their best skill set with you. This is something they may not have planned to do.

What is the reason for this question? 

This question will allow you to know the candidates best skills (hard/technical skills) and their soft skills (transferable skills).

What can this question help you discover?

  • What the candidate considers his/her ideal position.
  • If the candidate is ideal for the position that you are applying for.
  • How closely aligned are the candidate's skills to the duties and responsibilities required of the role.

 

6. What excites you the most about this position?

Many things are learned. Skills can be taught, but enthusiasm cannot be taught. A candidate that is excited about your position will thrive if given the opportunity.

What is the reason for this question? 

This question will help you discover the aspects of the position that the candidate is excited about. It will also help you know if you are about to hire an enthusiastic or laid-back person.

What can this question help you discover?

  • If the candidate is excited about the salary or benefits that come with the job.
  • If the candidate will stay long in your organization if hired.
  • The candidate’s understanding of the roles and duties of the position.

 

7. What do you like to do outside of work? 

This may sound like one of the common questions that recruiters ask job seekers, you should always remember that you are not hiring a robot, but a human that has an encompassing life.

What is the reason for this question? 

This question allows you to know what the candidate loves to do outside of work and also gives you an idea of what motivates him/her.

What can this question help you discover?

  • How to build a relationship with the candidate if he/she becomes an employee.
  • What makes the person happy.

 

8. What one skill makes you the most qualified for this position?

We understand that getting someone that is a cultural fit is necessary, but getting someone that has that cutting-edge skill that is required to do the job is also important.

What is the reason for this question? 

This question allows you to know the skills that the candidate considers to be his/her core skills. This will also make you understand what the candidate considers important for the role.

What can this question help you discover?

  • If the candidate has a good understanding of the role.
  • If you and the candidate are on the same page as regards the expectation for the role.
  • The candidate’s strongest skill

For example: if a candidate talks about a skill that is impressive, but does not have anything to do with the role, then it is a red flag that the candidate misunderstands the core duties of the role.

 

9. What career achievement are you most proud of?

This is one of the most important questions to ask job candidates during the interview. The truth is that job candidates prepare to impress you when they attend an interview. So they arm themselves with some achievements they think will impress you.

 What is the reason for this question? 

This question will allow you to know what the candidate considers as an achievement. It will also allow you to know what the candidate feels good about. This question can also be used to set a positive environment that can help the candidate feel confident.

What can this question help you discover?

  • The achievement that the candidate feels proud about.
  • Know the candidate’s greatest strengths.
  • If what the candidate considers as an achievement is a good enough achievement as regards the role.

 

10. If you are hired, what is the first thing you would love to work on?

This important question that can help you understand a job candidate’s problem-solving skill. Most times this kind of question is usually asked at the second or third stage of the interview.

What is the reason for this question?

This question allows you to know if the job candidate understands the duties and responsibilities of the position.

What can this question help you discover?

  • What the job candidate considers as a priority in the role.
  • The candidate’s enthusiasm to add value to the organization with the position.
  • The candidate’s knowledge of the company.  
  • A glimpse of how the candidate will function in the role.

 

11. What one skill would you like to improve on and what is your plan for improvement?

This is one question that can help you know the areas where a candidate has some weaknesses. Most times, interviewers always ask candidates questions like; what are your greatest weaknesses? Candidates are used to this question, and they will hardly give you a sincere answer. This question can appear to be like asking a candidate to shoot themselves in the foot.

What is the reason for this question?

This question will help you understand the candidate’s weaknesses as regards the skills and competencies required to do the job.

What can this question help you discover?

  • The candidate’s real weaknesses without directly asking them to mention it.
  • How committed the candidate is to learning and development.
  • Whether or not the candidate has the required skills and competencies required to do the job.

 

12. Why are you leaving your current employer?

This question is considered an important question because it gives you an idea of the candidate’s job experience. You have to create a relaxed atmosphere when you are asking this question because the truth is – no candidate wants to appear as if they are bad-mouthing their employer.

What is the reason for this question?

This question helps you understand why the candidate is leaving his/her current employer. What the candidate considers as a deal-breaker, which will help you know how to thread with that candidate.

What can this question help you discover?

  • The candidate’s professional history.
  • Red flags that indicate the candidate may not be a great fit.
  • The kind of work environment that the candidate can thrive.

 

13. If there were something in your past you were able to go back and do differently, what would that be? 

This question might appear not to be important, but you can get important information about a job candidate that will influence your hiring decision.

What is the reason for this question?

This question will help you know if the candidate keeps an open mind and is ready to learn. If there was something that the candidate would love to go back and change.

What can this question help you discover?

If the candidate is open to learning from their mistakes rather than pushing the blame to someone else.

  • The life lessons that the candidate have learned.
  • How much of the lesson that the candidate learned have influenced their career and how much will help them thrive if given the opportunity.

 

14. Can you describe your favourite and least favourite supervisor and why?

One thing that this question does – is to help reduce the tension between both parties in the interview room. It also helps you start a conversation with the job candidate on a lighter note.

What is the reason for this question?

This question will help you understand the kind of environment that the candidate can succeed in easily and also the personality of the candidate.

What can this question help you discover?

  • The management style that works best for the candidate.
  • The personality that the candidate can work with easily.
  • How the candidate loves to be communicated with.
  • The candidate’s level of maturity.
  • The candidate’s attitude to work.

 

15. Do you have questions for me?

You should never forget to ask a candidate this question. The job interview is a time for both the employer and the job candidate to learn more about each other before making a decision. Asking a candidate this question allows the candidate to get clarity on some things they may not seem to understand about the job and the company in general.

What is the reason for this question?

This question allows you to understand what made the candidate apply for the job in the first place, based on the questions the candidate will ask.

What can this question help you discover?

From the questions the candidate will ask, you can discover;

  • If the candidate is interested in the job or just the salary.
  • How thoughtful the candidate is.
  • The level of the candidate’s intelligence.
  • What the candidate considers important.

The questions that you ask job candidates during the interview will determine the kind of information that you would get about the candidate. These pieces of information will also influence your hiring decisions.

Remember to be polite and warm when interviewing job seekers: you need them just as they need the job. The way you treat job seekers during the interview will likely show up in company review websites like mysalaryscale.com.

Research reveals that 50% of candidates say they would not work for a company with a bad reputation - even for a pay increase.

(Betterteam Blog 2017)

You can use our recruitment service to ensure you give the right impression about your organization without lifting a finger. Promote your brand reputation by showing job seekers a great first impression of your brand.

 

 

 

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