Best Questions to Ask Your Job Applicants

Interviewing candidates is a critical component of an effective hiring process. When done properly, it can ensure that only quality candidates are considered in the final selection process.

In conducting job interviews, your primary goal is to determine a candidate’s personality, behavior, and attitude. Applicant data will already identify whether their skills and experiences meet the job description. But these can’t tell whether they fit your company culture.

To get the most out of a job interview, you must be able to ask the right questions. These questions must enable you to get a clear idea if a candidate possesses the qualities that best fit the position available.

The Best Questions to Ask Your Job Applicants

To adequately assess a candidate for both job fit and culture fit, you must ask the right mix of questions. Prepare questions that are specific to the role or position being filled. Also, ask open-ended questions that allow the candidate to show their personality.

Here are some questions that you can consider asking your job applicants to assess whether they fit the position they’re applying for:

Questions That Give Insights on Personality and Behavior

What is your greatest achievement at work?

Ask candidates to tell you their most important contribution at work. This will help you determine what they consider to be an achievement. It will give you an idea in which aspect of their career they’re most focused on.

Give three key values that you can bring to the workplace.

Personal values are indications of work ethic. Candidates who have positive core values are more likely to make better decisions and perform more responsibly. They’re also more likely to bring happiness at work.

Tell me something about yourself that others may be surprised to know about you.

This is among the best questions you can ask to have a glimpse of a candidate’s personality. It gives you an opportunity to learn something very interesting and real about a candidate.

If you could turn back time, is there something you would do differently?

Another way to determine a candidate’s personality is to ask them about life lessons they’ve learned. Regardless of when they learned these lessons, they’ll still give you insights on what they value and how they view life. Moreover, these life lessons can be useful when dealing with issues in the future.

Questions That Help Assess Skills for Job Fit

What’s the most important attribute or skill you would bring to our company?

Ask candidates what they consider their most important skill. This gives you an idea of how they can contribute to the specific job they’re applying for.

What are the first three things you would do on the job if you were hired?

This question enables you to check if candidates have a good understanding of the job requirements. It will also help you identify what they consider important.

What do you do to continue developing your professional skills and knowledge?

Ask this question to see if candidates place importance on continuous personal and career development. It can help identify if candidates recognize their need for improvement or for expanding their skill sets.

Check if candidates pursue professional development on their own or expect employers to provide such opportunities. Those who take the initiative to improve are bound to display better work productivity.

What’s your ideal position, and why?

When candidates describe their best-fit position, you can determine whether they’re aligned with the duties and responsibilities of the position they’re applying for. They’re also given an opportunity to share both their technical and soft skills.

Questions That Check for Culture Fit

What do you know about our company, and why do you want to work here?

Check if the candidates know what type of business you engage in. Those who sincerely want to work for the company are likely to do their homework and research about your company before the interview.

This question also tells you if a candidate believes in the company vision and its goals. This form of culture assessment would help determine who are fit for the company and who are not.

What kind of work environment do you prefer?

Answers to this question will indicate if candidates fit your company culture and workplace environment. They will also show whether candidates prefer working alone or collaborating with teams.

Look for candidates who don’t require close supervision, want some autonomy in making decisions, and are good at team collaboration.

What kind of oversight and interaction do you expect from your supervisor?

Candidates who are self-directed will prefer minimal supervision. They would want to be able to make autonomous responsible decisions yet are open to guidance and support when necessary.

If a candidate expects constant direction from a supervisor, they may not be a suitable fit for a company that emphasizes empowerment and autonomy.

Have you ever had a difficult working relationship with a colleague? Tell me about the issue, how you resolved it, and what you’ve learned from it.

Questions about past conflicts give you a picture of how candidates view problems and what they do to resolve them. How candidates deal with relational issues is a good indication of their level of professionalism.

You’ll also be able to know if they resolve problems on their own or collaborate with others. Moreover, you get an idea of whether they take accountability or point fingers when problems arise.

Situational Questions to Ask Job Applicants

Situational questions are hypothetical and ambiguous situations that can evaluate a candidate’s critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities. They can give you a glimpse of how a candidate responds to problems.

Create situational questions based on the position you are filling. Think of scenarios that usually happen in the workplace. Project situations that could possibly happen in the future.

Here are some general situational questions that you can start with:

  1. What would you do if an employee you’re supervising was performing below standard and wasn’t meeting your expectations?
  2. What would you do if your supervisor was constantly criticizing your work despite your best efforts?
  3. How would you handle a colleague who doesn’t seem to see eye-to-eye with most of the team and creates a toxic work culture?
  4. Let’s say you were assigned a project and given a tight deadline. You focused on the project and were almost finished when you realize that you’d made a mistake in the beginning. You then had to start over. What would you do?
  5. You had a brilliant idea that you think would help resolve a persistent issue at work. However, your team rejected your idea when you shared it with them. How would you handle the situation?

Smart Questions Ensure Candidate Quality

Job interviews are important in assessing candidate maturity level, culture fit, and self-awareness. They can provide insights on overall candidate quality to ensure good hires.

To gain the most advantage in an interview, ask smart questions that elicit candid responses. Ask questions that focus on the skills you’re looking for in a potential hire. Ensure collaborative and communicative conversation during the interview.

When done properly, job interviews can result in quality hires, lower employee turnover, and higher employee productivity.