The interview process is time-consuming, expensive...and essential. Choosing the wrong candidate can cost you thousands of dollars and untold frustration, so it’s important to get it right the first time.
The quickest way to find stellar hires in your candidate pool is to ask the right questions during the interview process. The best interview questions encourage candidates to share not only what they can do, but how they would do it. Plus, these questions will give you a sense of how prospective hires will fit in with your team.
In order to put these interview questions to the test, you have to have candidates to interview. ZipRecruiter distributes your job posting to 100+ other job sites with a single click. You can get started with ZipRecruiter for free.
15 Best Interview Questions
Here are some of the best interview questions to ask candidates. We also provided some insight into what to look for in a candidate’s response.
Tell me about yourself.
The best interview question to start with isn’t a question at all, but a statement. Asking the candidate to tell you about themselves provides an opportunity to learn how they see themselves, as well as a chance to see how they perform under pressure. Ideally, the job applicant will use this opening to give you their elevator pitch--a summary of their skills, qualifications, and experience--and explain why they’re the right person for the job.
What do you know about this company?
Job interviews are a chance for candidates to learn about the company and the role, but applicants shouldn’t be starting from scratch. A solid prospective hire will have carefully read the job posting, done their research and will already know something about the company’s goals, products and services, and history.
Why do you want this job?
Use this question to find out whether the candidate understands the organization’s goals, requirements, and place in the industry. Does this potential employee share your values, understand the company’s challenges and aims, work well in an environment like this?
What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
The best employees understand what they do well and what they need to work on. Ideally, the “need to work on” areas won’t involve skills and abilities that are essential for the job. For example, you wouldn’t want to hire a manager who said they had trouble with conflict or dealing with difficult people.
What motivates you to do your best work?
It’s not enough to find qualified candidates. To make the right hire, you need to identify which candidates will be the best fit for your company culture, work environment, and goals.
Tell me about a time when you faced a challenge at work. How did you overcome it?
This question gives the candidate a lot of leeway. They can share how they’ve solved a difficult creative problem, give an example of how they coped with a stressful situation, or provide insight into how they deal with challenging people.
What was your best boss like? What made them the best?
The candidate’s answer will tell you what management style they prefer, what leadership skills they admire and aspire to develop, and how they work best as part of a team.
Why are you leaving your current job? Or why did you leave your last job?
Hope for answers that show an eagerness to take on new challenges and that provide insight into the candidate’s professional goals. Watch out for answers that betray difficulty getting along with others or a tendency to badmouth colleagues or former employers.
What are your professional goals? Where do you want to be in five years?
Employers want to hire folks who will stay for the long haul. Pay attention to the answer to this question, and learn whether this candidate is likely to stay put for a while or move on to something more in line with their long-term goals.
What’s the hardest decision you’ve had to make in your professional life?
Look for answers that show good decision-making and problem-solving skills, as well as grace under pressure.
Do you prefer to work alone or with others?
The “right” answer to this question will vary, depending on the job. For example, if you need a self-starter who can complete tasks without a lot of handholding, you won’t want to hire someone who needs a lot of team interaction. On the other hand, if your office has an open floor plan and collaboration is essential to the job, you should steer clear of those who need to work alone. (Note: the interview itself can be helpful here. For example, if regular Zoom calls are part of the expectations for the role, pay attention to how the candidate conducts themselves during a video interview.)
What do you see as the most important trends in our industry?
Even entry-level employees should have some understanding of what’s going on in the industry and how these trends affect the job.
This role requires [X type of skills]. Tell me about a time when you used these skills in previous roles.
The candidate’s answer will tell you whether they can do the job, but perhaps even more importantly, it will tell you whether they understand how their contributions add to the bottom line.
Why should we hire you?
This question gives the candidate an opportunity to highlight their best qualifications and skills. It will also show you whether they understand their strengths and how they cope with pressure.
Do you have any questions for me?
Every interview should close with this question. This is your chance to make a pitch for your company, as well as to address any questions the prospective employee may have.
How To Spot Great Answers
The best hires will do the following in their answers to your interview questions:
Highlight their strengths
You should walk away knowing that they have the hard skills necessary to do the job, but also that they have the people skills required to work well with others.
Show culture fit
Will this person fit in well with your team and with the organization as a whole?
Display honesty and integrity
Their answers should be sincere and thoughtful. Beware the candidate who claims to have no faults or who cannot show evidence of personal and professional growth.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you introduce yourself in an interview?
Greet the candidate and introduce yourself by name. Give your job title and a brief explanation of how your job relates to the open role.
What are the top questions to ask an interviewer?
Be prepared to answer questions about the expectations and duties involved, as well as the company culture, day-to-day experience, and room for advancement. Have an idea of the salary and benefits offered and know whether you will be able to discuss compensation at this stage of the interview process.
How should you start an interview as an interviewer?
After introducing yourself, give a brief job description. Describe the essential duties, required skills, and goals of the position.
What is the most effective method for interviewing candidates?
Behavioral interview questions ask job applicants to describe how they’ve acted in certain situations in their previous jobs. The idea is that this will help interviewers predict their future behavior while providing insight into their skills, experience, and aptitudes.
The Bottom Line
The best interview questions give potential hires the chance to show you how they use their skills in real-world situations--and how they’d put their talents to work for you.
In order to put these interview questions to work, you have to find candidates to interview. Our team researched the best free job posting sites to help you out. ZipRecruiter is also a great choice for employers who want an extra edge in finding top hires.