Questions You Should Ask Candidates on an Interview

questions you should ask candidates on an interview

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If you’re looking to hire the best possible candidate for the job, you need to ask them the right questions. The questions you ask during an interview should be open-ended. Questions with one-word answers like yes or no should not be used often unless necessary because you want to get candidates talking as much as possible.

In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most important questions that you should ask during an interview. Remember that different companies have different requirements, so tailor your questions accordingly. By asking the right questions, you can get a better idea of whether or not a candidate is a good fit for your company.

I am sure you have a list of open-ended interview questions already. The most common interview questions include:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your greatest strengths?
  • What are your greatest weaknesses?
  • Why are you leaving your current position?
  • What type of work environment do you prefer?
Most Common Questions Asked By Interviewers

The goal of any job interview is to get to know the candidate and see if they’re a good fit for the position. To do this, most employers rely on a combination of standard questions and open-ended ones. However, not all open-ended questions are created equal. A vague question like “How would you describe yourself?” could lead the interview down an unfruitful path.

Instead, the trick is to ask questions that reveal the candidates’ suitability for the role you’re trying to fill. For example, Porter Braswell, CEO of diversity hiring startup Jopwell, asks his applicants, “What does success mean to you?” This question helps him understand what drives the candidates and how well their goals align with the company’s.

Shippo CEO Laura Behrens Wu asks something similar. She inquires, “What are some things you’re passionate about outside of work?” This question allows her to get a sense of the candidates’ interests and see how well they would fit into the company culture.

By asking the right questions, you can get to know the candidates on a deeper level and make sure you’re making the best hiring decision for your company.

While they may not seem related at first glance, both questions can tell you a lot about a candidate.

For example, if they say they are motivated by a high salary, bonuses, and awards, you can infer that they would do well in a fast-paced, competitive environment.

Alternatively, if they say they enjoy helping others and working as part of a team, you can infer that they would do well in a customer service or collaborative role. Ultimately, these questions can be very helpful in understanding what motivates a candidate and whether or not they would be a good fit for the role.

Ask Uncomfortable Questions

In order to be successful in life, one must be willing to have uncomfortable conversations. This is especially true for recruiters, who need to ask tough questions in order to find the best candidates.

While finding a balance between challenging and discouraging a candidate is important, former Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson uses the following question to test someone: “Tell me about a time you screwed something up. How did you handle it, and how did you address the mistake?”

This question allows Dickerson to see how a candidate reacts under pressure and how they handle making mistakes. Candidates who can stay calm and provide thoughtful answers are usually the ones who Dickerson chooses to move forward in the interview process. By asking tough questions, recruiters can weed out the weaker candidates and find those who have what it takes to succeed in life.

Interview questions can tell you a lot about a person. They can assess a person’s honesty, humility, and ability to think on their feet. Asking uncomfortable questions can also be an opportunity to see how a person responds to feedback. Would you really want to hire someone who claimed they never made mistakes?

Asking difficult questions is a way to see if a person has the essential competencies you are looking for, including problem-solving and the ability to respond positively to feedback.

Here are some more “uncomfortable” questions from successful business leaders:

  • What was your biggest failure?
  • What are your blind spots?
  • Why were you let go from your last job?
  • What would someone who doesn’t like you tell us about you?
  • How do you handle criticism?
  • What would your boss say about you?
  • What’s one piece of critical feedback you received that was difficult to hear?
  • What do people usually misunderstand about you?
  • Why are you leaving your current job?
  • Describe yourself in three words.

Asking difficult questions is one way to get to know someone better. It can help you assess if they are the right fit for the job.

Get Candidates to Think

Chances are, candidates prepared for the interview with you. Most candidates have already Googled “Most Popular Questions Asked on an Interview” and have prepared answers to each question.

If you want to get your candidates thinking, ask them questions they have never heard of. Here are some questions that have been asked in interviews before:

  • A bat and ball together cost $1.10. The bat is $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?
  • If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?
  • In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake?
  • How would you measure 9 minutes using only a 4-minute and 7-minute hourglass?
  • If you could be any animal, which one would you be and why?
  • We finish the interview, and you step outside the office and find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
  • What is the color of money?
  • Which would you choose if you had a choice between two superpowers, being invisible or flying?

Ultimately, you are asking these types of questions not to get a correct answer but to see how they react when asked. Candidates who can’t answer a difficult question with honesty and grace are probably not the right fit for the job. A good way to gauge a candidate’s character is to ask them a question that they may not know the answer to. If they are humble enough to admit that they don’t know and curious enough to ask for clarification, they are probably worth considering. 

On the other hand, if they try to wing it or bluff their way through an answer, it raises red flags about their honesty and integrity. Either way, this type of question can be helpful in weeding out candidates who are not a good fit for the position. Next time you’re interviewing someone, try asking them a tough question and see how they respond. It just might help you find the right person for the job.
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