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9 Interview Questions you Should Always Ask Candidates

Posted about 6 years ago by Paula De La Hey

According to research from the Recruitment & Employment Federation, employers are recruiting the wrong person for a shocking 40% of roles. With costs of a poor hire estimated at over three times the annual salary of an employee once costs associated with training, productivity and management time are factored in, a robust recruitment process should be a key priority for all businesses.   

Whilst it’s almost impossible to eradicate completely, we believe in working with clients to minimise the risk of making a bad hire (borne out by under 5% of our placements not working out over the past 12-months). A crucial element of this is ensuring the interview process is as thorough as possible, which starts with asking the right questions.

We look at what questions you should ask in every interview to get the most revealing responses that can help you to make confident hires.


As a starting point, can you briefly describe how you believe your background and experience align with the role we’re hiring for?

If the candidate is genuinely interested in working for your company they should easily be able to describe all the experience they’ve gained that makes them suited to the role; it shows they’ve paid attention to your particular requirements and business and helps identify those for whom it would just be a job, rather than something they genuinely want. It also helps weed out candidates who’ve perhaps embellished certain aspects of their CV.


Why are you leaving your current role?

This is an obvious question, but it’s important to listen closely to the response you get as it can often give insight into what has prompted their job search. There are tons of legitimate reasons for wanting a move and it’s always useful to explore these in detail. Not only does it help you to understand whether the reasons are genuine or masking more concerning issues, but it also gives valuable insight into their beliefs, values, goals and needs from an employer.


What kind of management and direction would your boss ideally provide to get the best out of you?

This question is about understanding how the candidate perceives themselves and what style of management culture will suit them best. Different people come into their own in different environments, so it’s important to investigate this. For example, if you operate a fairly hands-off, self-empowering culture, a candidate who requires constant direction is unlikely to fit.

If we hired you for this role, what are the three most important attributes/skills you would bring?

How the candidate answers this question provides two valuable insights.

1) how self-aware are they - have they genuinely taken the time to analyse their core strengths?
A candidate that can accurately reflect on their skills often can also identify their weaknesses. Knowing what areas they need to improve in provides chances for training and shows honesty.

2) Have they taken the time to understand the requirements of the role you’re interviewing them for & have they referenced this in their answer?
Often when hiring, we are looking for someone that will bring in solutions to problems facing a department, or to expand a busy team. This is a great opportunity for the candidate to express how they would help solve these problems, and/or to demonstrate attributes that will make them a great fit for the existing team.

What was it about this job that made you apply?

This gives the candidate a chance to tell you what it was that attracted them not only to the role but the company. At this stage, they should already have most of the core aspects of the position in their mind so this allows them to tell you what they have seen that has inspired their application. It tells you a lot about what motivates them but also gives you an insight into how your brand is being perceived externally. It will also separate those candidates who are genuinely interested in working for you, from those who simply view it as a job.

What was the last piece of constructive feedback you received and what did you do in response?

For the majority of roles, employers look for candidates who place importance on continuous development, this shows their approach to this. You’ll, therefore, be able to ascertain whether they are proactive in seeking out learning or rely purely on training provided by their employer. It also gives you an insight into their character, can they accept feedback well and use it to progress and develop?

If we hired you, you loved everything about the role and the culture, and we paid you the package you were looking for, what could another company offer for you to consider a move?

This isn’t a trick question, simply one that unearths whether or not a candidate is purely money motivated, or whether it’s about the bigger picture. You’ll often get more insight from answers to this question than you’d expect.

“What’s your favourite part of your current job?”

This is a great question for identifying a candidate’s core drivers and can be extremely beneficial when understanding how the role you’re recruiting for aligns with the values and aspirations.

Do you have any questions for me/is there anything else you would like to mention?

This is arguably one of the most important questions a candidate can ask and can be as insightful as the answer they give to your questions. The best candidates will have prepared intelligent questions they want to ask you, which will often reveal how they think and what their motivators are.

By finishing on an open question, it’s possible you’ll discover vital information such as competing offers, upcoming interviews, where their preferences lie, or achievements and awards that might not have been brought up, or they’d forgotten to mention.

There are of course hundreds of interview questions you could ask. We’ve found these questions to be great conversation starters and extremely effective in discovering the attributes and skills a candidate can offer the business, plus also their core values and beliefs, which helps build a far richer picture of whether they will be right for the business and vice versa.


Try them out and let us know what worked and didn't for you.