A great interview question can reveal insight into a candidate’s job qualifications, personal skills and approaches to tasks and workplace challenges that you wouldn’t necessarily determine from standard interview questions.
Consider using these 10 top interview questions to really get to know a candidate.
But before we jump into the first question, check out Robert Half's list of five things hiring managers should do before conducting an interview.
"What interests you most about this job?"
Ask this question to gauge how prepared the candidate is for the interview. The strongest candidates should be able to correlate their skills with specific job requirements. You can also decide if the candidate’s interests will match with the tasks they’ll be doing.
"In a way that anyone could understand, can you describe a professional achievement that you are proud of?"
After you ask this question, listen for the applicant’s ability to explain what they did so that anyone can understand. Successfully doing so may be a sign that the individual can step out of their "world" well enough to work with people in other departments.
“What do you hope to accomplish in your first 60 days on the job?”
Ask this to gauge how much a candidate has researched your organization and if they understand the position requirements. Keep your ears open for how much the candidate wants the position, too.
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"How have you changed the nature of your last job?"
Ask this to get an indication of a candidate’s contributions to their previous jobs. A convincing answer shows creativity, resourcefulness and a willingness to take the bull by the horns, if necessary. If candidates say they didn’t change their last job, ask how they would have changed it.
"What sort of work environment brings out the best in you?"
Ask this to find out if the candidate will fit into your company’s culture. Listen for unrealistic expectations or potential clashes. People rarely, if ever, work at their best in all situations. Candidates who say otherwise aren't being honest with themselves or you.
“How do you think we can improve our firm?”
A good answer to this question will let you know if the candidate did his or her homework. You’ll also get a sense of how much the candidate knows the industry and of their tact and diplomacy. You might even get some good ideas for your workplace.
"I see that you've been unemployed for the past few months. Why did you leave your last job, and what have you been doing since then?"
Don’t let this important question seem accusatory. Highly competent people can find themselves unemployed through no fault of their own, especially in challenging economic times or because of extenuating personal situations. Just listen up for how they used that time productively.
“I see this is a big career change for you. What are you bringing from your last career?”
Ask this if candidates have switched careers. Since you don’t want candidates to start from scratch, listen to see how well they describe their transferrable skills and whether those skills will fit your skills inventory.
“What could your last manager have done better?”
The answer to this question will indicate how candidates prefer to be managed. Listen up for how honest and positive the candidates are when explaining. A red flag, however, would be a long diatribe on the shortcomings of a previous manager.
“What do you think is the biggest issue in our field today?
Listen for original ideas about candidates’ views on the profession. You should get a sense of how much or how little they’ll need to be managed, as well as how tuned in they are to current trends.