Interview questions to ask candidates - and what their answers mean

Get the most out of an interview by asking the right types of question.

2 mins read
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9 months ago

When conducting an interview, it's important to ask the right types of questions to get the most out of it. To achieve this, you should plan a mix of different question types that are tailored to the specific qualities required for a particular role. The questions that you ask should provide you with insight into the candidate's strengths, weaknesses, and how well they'll fit into the team. To help you achieve this, here are some of the main types of questions to ask during an interview:

Standard competency questions

These are the most common types of questions to ask during an interview. They usually begin with a phrase like "Can you give me an example of when you...". You can adapt them to suit the skills you'd like the candidate to tell you about, such as delivering excellent customer service, resolving a conflict, or influencing a senior stakeholder. Competency style questions are useful when you want to find out about specific competencies or skills that the candidate possesses and how they've used them to resolve previous situations. Good candidates often plan responses to these questions and should provide clear, well-thought-out examples. In their answers, look for evidence that they can provide a clear situation, the task at hand, the action they personally took, and the positive result of that action using the STAR method.

Follow-up question

Follow-up questions allow you to go beyond the glossy prepared answer and get more details. They also allow the candidate to engage on a higher level and think on the spot, as they might not be as prepared for one of these. Asking good follow-up questions can reveal a lack of detail or personal involvement that may be hidden by a prepared response.

The curveball question

If you want to assess a candidate's ability to react quickly and think critically, give them a challenging question or scenario that may not necessarily be related to the job they are applying for. This can be based on something they've mentioned on their resume or something current that you'd like them to provide some insight on. This will test their ability to make sound decisions under pressure and to communicate their thoughts effectively, which can be crucial for some positions.

The hypothetical situation question

These types of questions can be polarizing - some love them, while others hate them. However, they are an effective tool for quickly testing one's rational thought and logical reasoning abilities. Typically, these questions involve presenting a hypothetical scenario to the candidate and asking them to make a decision based on the information and parameters provided.

The “describe yourself” question

Job interviews often involve questions that require the candidate to describe themselves in a few words or imagine what their previous boss or co-workers would say about them. These questions can take different forms, but they serve the purpose of assessing the candidate's ability to empathize with others and express their point of view concisely. It's a way to test the candidate's communication skills and see how they respond in situations where they need to be succinct.

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