Five Types of Interview Questions to Ask Job Candidates

Esteban Gomez | August 5, 2015

Every interviewer has questions that can put some candidates in the hot seat. You can see their lip quiver and the sweat starting to build on their brow while they shift uncomfortably. It’s not your goal to make them do that, but it inevitably happens. Even some of the best candidates on paper crumble when you ask the questions that get to the heart of why you should hire them.

The candidates who have prepared the most will likely be able to pull it together and provide a response that sufficiently answers the question and provides insight into who they really are when the interview show is over. The quest to find the best interview questions to ask is an ongoing journey that’s ever-evolving with each generation of candidates and HR professionals.

We scoured lists of the best types of interview questions to help you identify great candidates for your organization and provided examples for each type. The following questions elicit more than just a deer-in-headlights look. Check out the types of interview questions and let us know if you think they’re interview-worthy.

1. Candid Questions

When you ask a candidate a question that doesn’t sound like the traditional interview question, you have an opportunity to peek behind the best behavior that your candidate presents. Inc. put together a fantastic list of questions to ask, including “What’s your story?” They have an excellent reserve of questions that invite the candidate to be candid in their response, and you might just find out that the person you’re interviewing would hate the job they’re vying for. Candid questions help weed out job seekers who might not be serious enough to handle the not-so-pretty parts of the job.

2. Questions That Require Examples

Questions that require specific examples make job candidates think critically to analyze how a specific situation affected them — a beneficial skill in any job. If you ask a candidate, “Explain your greatest success,” you’re asking the candidate to provide you with examples from their past work history. You may think that you’re receiving a lot of information about their success from the candidate’s resume, but by asking about specific examples, you’ll be able to gauge what success means to them and as such, you’ll be able to compare that to your scale of what you think they should consider a success.

3. Questions That Allude to Culture

Sometimes you just want to know if the candidate you’re interviewing is going to mesh with the rest of the crew. Ask them questions about how they work such as, “Do you prefer to work independently or with a team?” or “What type of office environment helps you excel?” or “If things didn’t work out, why would that be the case?” By asking questions about how a job candidate works, you should get a good feel for how they will work with the rest of the employees.

4. Why?

Make your job candidate talk and think out loud. When you ask mundane questions that only require a yes or no response, you aren’t doing your job. It’s important to ask questions that will get a candidate talking about his or her experience and explaining why they would be the best fit. For example, “Why are you the right person for this role?”  These kinds of questions put candidates in a position to think before they respond because they can’t provide a simple question. There has to be meaning in their response and a demonstrated ability to think things through quickly and respond. If your candidate doesn’t do well under pressure, this is one of the kinds of questions that will show you that.

5. How?

Similar to asking “why,” by asking questions that start with “how,” you’re going to get a more detailed response that demonstrates the candidate’s ability to recall, think on their feet and respond. How questions force candidates (if they’re capable) into showing how they would logically solve a problem (or solved a problem in the past). These questions can be as simple as, “How do you handle pressure?” or you can be like Google and ask, “How much does the Empire State Building weigh?”

Interviewing job candidates isn’t an easy task, and sometimes it can be difficult to pull the information you need out of a candidate without wasting a lot of time. By asking the right types of interview questions, you should be in a better position to assess the job candidate and decide if you want to move on with them or without them. If you enjoyed this list of questions, be sure to share this post with your friends and let us know what kinds of questions work best for you. We can’t wait to hear from you!

About The Author

Esteban Gomez is a marketing consultant with interviewstream. He loves learning and has a passion for traveling, having visited many countries including China, Colombia, Italy, and Peru.


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