When you interview an applicant, you have to gather as much information as possible in a short period. Gleaning enough about a candidate to determine whether they’re the best fit for a role is challenging — but by asking good interview questions, you will not only get a clearer idea of their skills and experience, but also get a sense for their conversational skills, problem-solving skills, and ability to think quickly.
The best way to adequately assess a candidate for both skill fit and culture fit is to ask questions that are specific to the company or role as well as broader questions that give the applicant an opportunity to show their personality and ability to think critically under pressure.
Here are a few of the best interview questions to ask candidates.
1. What career accomplishment makes you most proud?
While it’s important to hire someone who can do the job well, you also want to hire an employee who takes pride in their work. By asking the candidate to share their favorite career accomplishment, you give them the opportunity to share a career highlight — but this will also help you better understand the type of work that makes them feel fulfilled and determine whether it’s aligned with what the role entails.
2. Tell me something about yourself that isn’t on your resume.
Job seekers carefully craft their resumes to provide the best summary of their professional experience, but you can’t learn everything about a candidate from what they put down on paper. This question is purposefully vague and allows the interviewee to decide whether they want to share something job-related or not. They may choose to tell you about their volunteer work, the sabbatical they took to travel the world or another defining experience.
The way they choose to respond to this question, and the story they share, can tell you a lot about the type of employee they will be.
3. Why do you want to work here?
This question is your opportunity to determine how much an employee has researched the company, and get a better idea of what they’re looking for in an employer. When asking this question, listen carefully for details about your organization and any parallels the applicant is drawing between your company and their career aspirations.
4. What made you want to apply for this position?
This is one of the best interview questions to ask because it delves into specifics about the job role. It shows how carefully the candidate read the job description, and also gives them the chance to share why they feel they’d be a good fit. A well-crafted answer will touch on skills the applicant has as well as skills they want to develop or improve.
5. What are your greatest weaknesses?
This question is one of the most popular interview questions for a reason: it helps you quickly learn a lot about a candidate. This question enables you to deduce three things:
- Whether the candidate’s weaknesses could conflict with job requirements or hamper their ability to excel in the role
- Whether or not the candidate is self-aware enough to know their weaknesses without having to think for too long
- How a candidate is working to improve on their shortcomings
6. What are your greatest strengths?
Like addressing weaknesses, when a candidate talks about their strengths, it shows their level of self-awareness and humility. This also gives the applicant a chance to discuss how their best qualities align with the needs of the role and even demonstrate how they will use their strengths to help the company reach its goals.
7. Tell me about a difficult work situation and how you overcame it.
Everyone has experienced challenging circumstances at work, and often it’s in these moments that professionals grow the most. This question allows the candidate to tell you about how they perform under pressure and also discuss their problem-solving skills and ability to manage stress.
8. Why are you leaving your current employer?
When you ask this question, pay close attention to how the candidate talks about their former job. Are they focusing on the negative aspects, or do they err more on the positive side by addressing their hopes for the future? The interviewee’s ability to show respect for their previous employer and workplace demonstrates their civility and professionalism, which are two essential attributes in any role.
A job interview is your opportunity to get a feel for whether or not a candidate is qualified, but also if they’re someone with whom other employees would enjoy working. By asking these questions, you can better assess both skill level and personality traits, which are two of the most important factors to consider when choosing a new hire.
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