“A company is known by the people it keeps.” It becomes really important to shortlist, train, and retain the best so that they contribute to the growth of the organisation. While the internet is afloat with interview questions for candidates and templated answers, we reached on the other side of the table.
We interviewed 500+ recruiters, and cherry-picked the best of the interview questions, and the reason to why these questions are important. So if you as a recruiters get thinking after, “tell me something about yourself”, here is a gold mine that you would love to walk away with. Do let us know of your thoughts.
We thank the talent acquisition experts who participated in this exercise with us. The name of the contributors are highlighted after the question, along with their linkedin profile.
1. What’s the last thing you taught yourself outside of work? How did you/could you apply that to your work? Destini Cox , Dan Medlin
- While other questions assess the current qualification of the candidates, this question helps ensure that the candidate is not only qualified for the job that he is seeking, but that he has the potential to learn and grow in a position as well, and additionally impact his work with a growth/learning mindset.
2. What is your impression of the role you are interviewing for? JD Cummings
- Asking the candidate how he would describe it to his family and friends? If he could himself create his ideal job description, what would it entail? When asked to narrate their ideal job description, candidates state what responsibilities they want to take, how clear they are about the task at hand.
3. How would you describe yourself in three words? Jeannine Tinsley
- Giving the perfect introduction for any candidate can be tricky; it becomes even more complicated when he is limited by the number of words one can use to describe oneself. It helps us find how the candidate thinks, what are his best qualities and to see if he is a culture fit.
4. So what have you heard about us and our team? Heidi Rankich
- It gives an insight into how much research the candidate has done, which directly correlates to their interest in joining the specific group and the position. This tells more about their time with the application in addition to hitting the submit button.
5. How can you maintain a team of unprofessional people doing smart work? Mure Sandeep Reddy
- It’s not true that a successful employee might not have a negative trait. It’s important to be aware of the dynamics in the workplace and handle it strategically. A bunch of high-performing employees with a big ego, unfriendly demeanor, or generally negative personality may not continue delivering stellar. For a long-term win, the candidate in the leadership role needs to establish boundaries, draw the line, chase the bigger picture, focus on the solution, and if it does not work out as planned, have the courage to end it.
6. Why did they leave their last job and find what they want to do? Jeffrey Traill, CPC , Maninder Singh , Michael Gutierrez
- Did the candidate leave the job voluntarily, for a good reason, and good terms? The reason for leaving the last job is always relevant to the employer. It is always important to understand the motivation behind leaving the current job. This helps in understanding the clarity and direction of the career path of the candidate. The logic and rationale for leaving the current job pave the path for the next set of questions that helps get an insight into the candidate’s psyche.
7. What are you hoping to get out of your next opportunity/role? Zahin Helal , Juan Alberto Montoya , Robert Gladders
- As an employer, it is important to know whether the goals of the individual are a match for the company. The answer also allows an interviewer to see whether the skills and interests make a good fit for the job at hand. It helps them explain their motivation, connect with their long-term goals, and provide a first insight into who the person is.
8. I want to put you in the best light, any achievements you want to highlight? Mauro Blardony , Dan Medlin
- It is one of the most challenging behavioral questions one can be asked during a job interview. As children, we are often taught to practice humility; to not show off in social situations because it is considered rude. This question helps us understand how the candidate strikes a balance. This question helps us understand what the candidate values most in his life, how this can benefit the company, and whether the candidate is a good fit for the company’s culture. How the candidate views success and whether this coincides with the company’s commercial goals.
9. What do you feel drives your success? Elle Brazzil , Alex Marquez-Shaw
- The question is not a straightforward one. It would require a calm and collected mind to gauge exactly what motivates the candidate. This is the easiest way to know positive aspects which motivate a person.
10. What projects have they worked on, and what have they done to make them successful? Chez Jennings , Dominique Mesick , John Gaval
- This is one of the popular competency-based questions for any roles requiring project management experience. This question helps us understand how well the candidate can manage a project or a situation, his approach to dealing with challenges, and how his skills would lead to help to lead a project successfully. It also gives a picture of what his work ethic is like, and gives an insight as to how the candidate can handle stress.
11. At what job did you feel the most empowered to be successful and why? Jeannine Tinsley , John Gaval
- This question gives a direct measurement of the candidate’s level of confidence in the surrounding. It tells us what the kind of surrounding he needs for his optimal performance is. When this question is asked, it helps in assessing what it is that the organization needs to provide to ensure the candidate performs to his potential.
12. Tell me about your path so far. Heidi Rankich
- This is a loaded question, and it can help you gauge a lot about a person by how they respond. It seems general, but listening is the key to finding good talent when you are a recruiter.
13. Tell me about an innovative process improvement you’ve made. Dominique Mesick
- This can be further expanded as, What was the problem you identified, and what process did you implement to improve it? Give me an example of a time when you were able to deliver an important project under a tight deadline. What sacrifices did you have to make to meet the deadline? How did they impact the final deliverables? All of it gives a direct insight into the candidate’s modus operandi, his track of looking into inefficiencies, and bringing in improvement.
14. What type of people annoy you? Eric Lindroos
- While the interview process tends to focus mainly on the relevant skills and work experiences of job seekers, employers also care about fit. More specifically, the interviewer wants to see how well the potential employee might fit in with the current workers of the company. As a result, employers frequently want to know, “What irritates you about other people, and how do you deal with it?” when interviewing prospective associates. The potentially tricky interview question sheds light on how candidates interact and get along with others. Employers use responses to the question to determine whether interviewees prove potentially easy or difficult to work with if hired.
15. Tell me about a time when you had a disagreement at work and how you handled it? Ravi Jha
- People aren’t going to get along with each other all the time. It’s just a fact. It is important to assess that a candidate can respond to conflict diplomatically. It is important to assess if the candidate emphasizes qualities like communication and respectfulness as a means to conflict resolution.
16. What was the best job you’ve had and why? Ravi Jha
- There is no better way to find out what kind of employee a candidate is without asking about a candidate’s previous jobs. It helps in the evaluation of not just what type of job the candidate liked best, but also why he liked that particular job. The reasons for liking a job can help the hiring manager understand interests and motivations regarding work.
17. Do you work better with teams or independently? Marc Jackson
- The question relates to culture. In an ideal world, we would be surrounded by like-minded people of whom we click with on a deeper level. The people we work with would be like our best friends, but that does not happen on a daily basis. This question tells about how an individual feels about working with others. An ideal candidate should like being part of teams and, at the same time, deliver well as an individual contributor.
18. What would they do differently if they had the chance to redo a project and why? Alex Marquez-Shaw
- All improvements come in a gradual iteration. This question gives an instant insight as to how much an individual can learn in real-time from immediate success, failures, and experiences. The marksmanship of a good learner is his ability to iterate and improvise quickly.
19. What is one of your weaknesses you currently working on? Monique Arrington
- “What are your weaknesses?” is a question commonly asked at interview – frequently paired with “What are your strengths?” If the candidate does not talk about anything it might sound like a plausible weakness. Whereas if the candidate gives away too much information, it can result in sabotaging his interview. The above question takes things a notch higher. It tests the self-awareness of the candidate. If a candidate is self-aware beyond the point of knowing his weakness and is proactively making an effort in overcoming that weakness.