12 Great Interview Questions to Ask

12 Great Interview Questions to Ask

Managers and HR professionals have been under pressure these days to fill a myriad of openings quickly.  Unfortunately, in many instances this leads to companies “putting bodies in positions,” the practice of simply filling positions with anyone, regardless of their fit for the position or company.  This is not a good practice, as it erodes the work environment, team morale, and can lead to greater turnover.

To help you find good candidates and make the most of the interview process, we’ve put together 12 great interview questions to ask applicants and why you want to ask them.

12 Great Interview Questions and Why You Should Ask Them

1.  Why do you want to work for this company?

Information is easy to come by these days.  Therefore, regardless of the position, it is reasonable to expect that an individual applying for a position at your company would do some basic research into it.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  By asking this question, you can determine who actually researched the company and/or position to find a good fit and who just sent out a bunch of resumes hoping for a response.

SUGGESTION:  Ask this question early in the interview.  If asked later, they can pick up things said during the interview and simply repeat them back to you.

2. Do you work best on a team or alone?

Depending on the position, this can be an important question to ask.  If the position requires a high level of teamwork, a person who works best alone is not an ideal candidate for the position.  However, if they are a strong candidate, you may want to consider them for other positions within the company.

SUGGESTION:  Although this is a close-ended question, if a candidate provides a single answer (i.e.  “I work best as a member of a team”), ask them why that is or to give you an example that explains their answer.

3. Describe the ideal working environment for you.

Organizations move in different times and ways that others.  If a company has a fast-paced, on-your-toes, quick decision environment, it won’t be a good fit for a person who prefers a laid-back environment where there is lots of discussion before decisions are made.

Don’t have time to read the blog post?  No worries!  We’ve created a handy PDF covering all 12 questions.  

4. Why are you leaving your current position/Why did you leave your last position?

This question can help you determine a number of things.  First, it shows what may be or have been lacking from previous employers that you can spotlight at your company.  For instance, if a deciding factor in them leaving a company was lack of advancement opportunities, you can highlight your training and development opportunities or your internal promotion practices.  On the other hand, it can also let you know if the candidate has unrealistic expectations, or if they show animosity or discontent with their current or former employer.  Even if they had a bad experience, an interview is not the place to display it.

5. Tell me about a time when you had to overcome a significant challenge to accomplish a goal.

This question tells you about a candidate’s analytical skills, critical thinking, and perseverance.  Challenges will arise in the workplace so it’s important to find candidates who will stick with the company but help to solve the situation.  Many leaders emerge during hard times.

6. Tell me something about you that’s not on your resume or LinkedIn profile.

Here’s the chance to gather insight into a candidate beyond their professional accomplishments.  A question like this can tell you about a candidate’s interests and hobbies, as well as other accomplishments, strengths, and motivations.  On the flip side, the answer to a question like this can also reveal quirks that could lead to trouble down the road.

7. What are the greatest strengths you bring to a position/company?

It’s important for a candidate to be able to describe their best attributes while remaining humble.  In addition, this question gives you the opportunity to find the skills and traits that will fit in well with the team/department and help your company grow.

8. Tell me about a time when you had a disagreement with a co-worker and how you handled it.

This question gets to the heart of a candidate’s conflict resolution skills as well as their interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence.  Even the tone they take and how animated they get can give you insight into their ability to find common ground and solve issues that will undoubtedly arise in the workplace.  Did they choose an example which paints them as an innocent victim, or do they describe a situation where they were able to put personal feelings aside to accomplish a greater good?

9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

There’s a reason companies have been asking this question for decades.  This question helps you determine if the candidate is ambitious and sets goals for themselves.  Candidates that are driven and have clear professional goals can be a valuable asset to a company, especially if their goals are in line with the direction the company is heading, providing you with an employee who will stick with the company for the long haul.

10. What do you want to do differently at your next position?

A question like this can tell you about a candidate’s line of thinking as well as their ability to bounce back from past mistakes.  Are they focused on the past or are they eagerly moving forward towards bigger and brighter things?  A big red flag here would be a candidate that goes into a negative tirade about their previous employer or boss/co-workers.

11. Have you applied for other positions?

Like the first question, this one helps you see where the candidate is and if they are focused in their job search.  If a person has been applying for a wide variety of jobs in many different industries, this may be a candidate that’s looking for anything or just seeing what’s out there.  However, if they are more calculated in their search and only applying for jobs similar to yours or within the same industry, this may be a candidate who is more aware of what they want and who they want to work for.

12. Describe a work accomplishment that you are proud of/Describe the most interesting project you’ve worked on.

These questions give you insight into the types of projects the candidates likes and what achievements they’ve accomplished.  It can also demonstrate their leadership skills and if their likes and strengths are a good match for your company.

Don’t have time to read the blog post?  No worries!  We’ve created a handy PDF covering all 12 questions.  

Asking good, open-ended questions during the interview can provide you with great information on the candidates and what they have to offer your company.  However, every good interview starts with a good understanding of what the company needs, not only when it comes to job skills but also the interpersonal, conflict resolution, and communication skills that will be fit with the department and overall company.  Regardless of which questions you asked, make sure to ask questions that are related to the role, and to ask the same questions of all applicants for the position.

Of course, there’s much more involved when it comes to interviewing.  From properly preparing for the interview to avoiding illegal interview questions, it’s important for companies to make sure all individuals involved in the interview process are properly prepared.  

If your company needs assistance with interview questions, the interview process, or other aspects of job interviews or Human Resources, contact Paradise for a confidential consultation.

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