Articles by Smart Recruit Online

Great Questions to ask the Candidate at Interview

Interview Questions

By David Dou, Marketing Executive at Smart Recruit Online

Your recruitment campaign has been successful and you’ve gained a huge pool of applicants, from whom you’ve selected the few that will go on to the face to face interview stage. Now the task is to find the best candidate from your selected shortlist.

The ideal candidate shouldn’t just have the necessary skills or experience, but also needs to have the right blend of behavioural preferences and personality to fit well into the role. A poor hire will cost you much more in the long run with the potential costs of poor performance, staff conflict and the eventual cost of hiring a replacement.

Conducting face to face interviews is a detailed and time consuming process, so it is vital you get the information you need to make a well informed hiring decision which results in you taking on the best candidate. As expected, the best way to get answers you need is through asking the right questions. To help your interview process, we have compiled a list of great questions to ask at interview, and highlighted a few bad questions to avoid.

The best questions to asks

  1. Tell me about yourself

The classic opening question that allows the candidate to give you a summary of their strengths and experience, and why they’re the best fit for the role. The open-ended form of the question allows the candidate to go into greater detail in regards to their strengths that they feel are more relevant for the role.

A good response from the candidate will feature examples of their most relevant qualities and how they would fit with your company. This shows they have done their research on your company and know what is most likely to make them a good fit.

  1. What does your ideal company look like?

This question helps you establish your candidate’s expectations and what they hope to get from the role, as well as the kind of environments they feel they would perform best in. You can get a good insight into the changes and improvements they can make to your organisation, along with their long term goals.

  1. What did you think of your previous boss

By asking this question, you can see what kind of management style the candidate prefers and performs well under. Learning how the successful candidate expects to be treated by their superiors will allow you to make the on boarding process much more efficient. Any answers about what they didn’t like will also point to what may cause potential friction between them and their Managers.

If they responded positively about their last boss you can follow up with further questions, such as, have you ever had a bad boss, who was the worst and why, or what are the main qualities that make a good boss?

  1. Tell us more about your long term goals

Find out what your candidate’s long term goals and aspirations are. Their response will help you determine how they plan to develop further in their career and how they plan to work to achieve it.

  1. What are the things you dislike most about your current / most recent job?

By identifying their dislikes early on, the candidate’s response allows them to avoid the problems that led to them interviewing for your advertised role. You will learn what they expect from their next employer and what you need to do to suit their needs.

  1. Do you have any questions for us?

Give your candidate the opportunity to ask their own questions. Your responses can provide the candidate with valuable information on internal aspects of the organisation, such as social environment, what management structure you operate with and examples of the typical workday. All information which may not be visible on the customer facing aspects of your company.

An enthusiastic candidate should also have come with a list of questions and be eager to find out more about your company and the role.

What not to ask

While it is good to find out as much as you can about your candidates, there are also questions that you should not ask. Questions about disabilities, general health, marital status, religion, race or sexual orientation are all considered discriminatory and should be avoided. Asking these questions can result in claims being filed against you, as they are against “protected classes”.

Only ask these sort of questions if there are legitimate reasons such as for manual labourer jobs where you require able bodied staff or age limits for roles handling age-restricted products. If you are recruiting for roles that will have these types of requirements, you need to make it clear in the description the requirements of the job and to let the candidate decide whether or not they are suitable.

Also, avoid asking cryptic questions, anything that involves role play and never ask a candidate to compare themselves to an object, item or animal and explain why.