The Best Questions to Ask in a Job Interview

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Jessica Newman

September 26, 2019

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The Best Questions to Ask in a Job Interview

The key to finding well-qualified job candidates is well thought out questions. After all, interview questions help recruiters better understand applicants’ personalities and—more importantly— their ability to perform the everyday duties on a job.

By asking good interview questions, recruiters and hiring managers can get a clearer idea of applicants’ skills and experience, as well as many insights that can’t be gleaned from a resume/CV, including:

  • Professionalism
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Conversational ability
  • Confidence
  • Attitude
  • Passion
  • And more!

To uncover these traits, consider asking your candidates the questions below during your next interview. 

What’s your definition of hard work?

This question is an effective way to understand whether candidates will be able to keep pace with the work that’s expected of the successful applicant. After all, everyone is different; what some people can accomplish in an hour takes others an entire day to complete.

Listen if applicants respond to this question by saying “working 12 hour shifts” or “prioritizing tasks and working efficiently.” The latter is preferred, especially if it includes some mention of teamwork. Teamwork makes the dream work.

Why do you want to work here? / What made you apply? / What excites you most about the position?

The answers to these questions give recruiters a glimpse into each candidate’s career aspirations, and demonstrate whether or not the candidate took time to research the company before the interview. Moreover, questions like this help gauge an applicant’s interest in working for the company and assess their motivations for applying.

While some skills can be taught, sincere enthusiasm needs to come from within. If you can determine early in the recruitment process that a person genuinely cares about the work, this increases the likelihood that person will deliver high-quality work if they are hired. It’s also an indicator the individual will stay with the company for a longer period of time.

What kind of work would you be happy doing every day for the rest of your career?

This question helps recruiters understand the type of work that makes each candidate feel fulfilled, and whether or not their preferred work style aligns with the position. If the applicant answers they’re happiest in a quiet environment with lots of independent work, they likely won’t do well in a fast-paced, collaborative workspace.

Happy employees are the ones who work hardest and stay the longest. That’s why it’s so important for recruiters to match applicants with roles that best suit them—and sometimes that’s not the position you’re interviewing for.

What’s your most significant career accomplishment?

This practical question helps uncover each applicant’s level of ambition and what they consider a success. Whether it’s an award, a certificate, or a big project that went exceptionally well, hire a motivated person who clearly takes pride in their work.

A good answer to this question shows both confidence and humility. Notice if the interviewee tries to take credit for what was obviously a group effort, or if they neglect to mention how the company benefited from the success. These are telling factors of a candidate’s character.

Do you have any questions for me?

While it’s not uncommon for candidates to ask questions throughout the interview, this is a great question to end an interview because it often points to what a candidate is most interested in. For example, are they asking about your company culture? Are they more concerned with compensation? Do they ask intelligent questions about growth potential? Or are they curious about bonuses and time off? These questions provide insight into an individual’s motivations for coming into the interview.

While behavioral interview questions, salary questions, and basic questions like “what’s your greatest strength/weakness?” certainly have a place during interviews, don’t shy away from the expected. You might be surprised by what you learn. Just be sure you don’t ask these questions.

jessica newman Headshot

Jessica Newman

Jessica is a VidCruiter writer who cares about connecting people with meaningful work. She writes about talent attraction, HR challenges, and hiring best practices.

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