The questions hiring managers should be asking in job interviews

Whether you’re the employer or a hiring manager, the questions you ask candidates in a job interview are extremely important. This is because they can make all the difference when it comes to recruiting the right person for a role within your company, making it a much easier task than initially anticipated.

Asking the right questions in a job interview will help you save time on arranging follow-up interviews, as you’ll quickly get the information you need to determine if someone is a good fit for your company. This is not just in terms of their skills and experience, but their working style, motivations, career goals, and personality type. These are all vital factors to take into consideration when hiring new employees.

However, you also need to remember that the sort of job you’re interviewing for will play a bit part in the questions you ask. While confidence and an outgoing personality may well be something you want to test for in a sales or a business development role, some of the best analysts may be very introverted, so don’t expect them to want to stand up and do a long presentation!

To help you find the right fit when it comes to recruiting new staff, here are some of the key questions you should ask in a job interview, and why…

  1. Tell me about yourself.

After introducing yourself, this is a great opening question to ask a candidate as it should help to break

the ice and put them more at ease. Most people are nervous in interviews as they’re keen to impress. So, it’s a good idea to begin with a question that should be easy for the candidate to answer.

Asking the interviewee to tell you more about themselves will also give you a good indication of what they’re like as a person. For example, are they confident and outgoing, or shy and more reserved? Do they seem passionate about their career? Little personality traits like these can help you to determine if they’ll fit in with the rest of your team and how they may perform in a customer facing role.

  1. Tell me about your greatest achievement at work.

It goes without saying that every employer wants to hire staff members that are keen to achieve their own personal goals, as well as those of the company. If a candidate answers this question confidently, then it shows that they’re likely to be very hard-working and motivated.

Another reason this is a good question to ask in an interview is because it helps you to determine what they consider to be ‘achievements’, and whether this aligns with your definition. Additionally, if you’re hoping to hire someone that’s going to grow and progress within your company, then the interviewee isn’t likely to be the right fit if they struggle to give you an example of their achievements.

  1. Describe a time when you encountered a problem at work and how you dealt with it.

It’s a fact; we all make mistakes from time to time. so, as well as a candidate’s key achievements, you’ll also want to ask them about the times when they’ve overcome problems, such as dealing with conflict.

This is important because their answer can give you a good idea of how well they work under pressure.

This job interview question will also help you determine how honest they are about their weaknesses. The best employees are the ones that own up to their mistakes, instead of blaming others when things go wrong (and cause conflict). Knowing how someone deals with mistakes and other problems at work will show you if they’re transparent, proactive, and good at making decisions.

  1. What made you decide to apply for this position?

One of the biggest worries for employers is that they’ll hire someone that doesn’t really want the role, and will leave after a short time. If the candidate doesn’t express interest in your company, and simply mentions the salary, then they may move on quickly. This can cost your business both time and money.

Another reason that this is an important question to ask in a job interview is because you’ll be able to determine if your company is a good fit for the candidate. For example, if flexibility and working hours are important to them (which is often the case for working parents), then you need to ensure that the role is able to cater to their needs. Remember; it should be a good fit for both of you!

  1. Why are you looking to leave your current role and company?

The reason why someone chooses to change jobs can tell you a lot about what motivates them. If it’s career progression, this shows that they’re hardworking and goals driven, which are essential qualities to succeed in a range of roles, industries and working environments.

Other accepted reasons for someone to change jobs is to pursue a different career or to simply find a role that better suits their needs (for example, due to their location or family). If a candidate is hesitant to answer this, or they say they want to leave their job due to their boss or another person within the company, this could indicate that they’ll be a difficult person for your existing team to work with.

  1. Do you have any questions for me?

Similar to the popular interview opening, “tell me what you already know about the company”, asking this question will show you how well the candidate has done their research. This will help you to gauge how interested they actually are in the vacancy and your business as a whole.

If a candidate immediately asks about your working hours and how long their lunchbreak will be, they might have the wrong priorities in mind. If someone has prepared a list of interesting questions to ask you, then they’re obviously keen to impress! However, if the answers to their questions can be quickly found within the job specification, this also raises a red flag.

Weird and wonderful interview questions

Sometimes, the best way to get a feel for a candidate’s personality in an interview is to catch them off guard with something a little different from the standard questions we’ve mentioned above. This is a tactic that’s used by some of the world’s biggest and most influential brands, including Microsoft and Google, and is one you can take inspiration from…

Here are a few of our favourite examples of out-of-the-box interview questions…

Company: Microsoft

Interview question: “Why is a manhole cover round?”

Why it’s asked: This is now a commonly asked interview question that’s used to determine someone’s problem solving skills. Because it has more one possible correct answer, it’s a great way of testing logic and common sense, as well as a person’s ability to quickly solve a problem under pressure.

Company: Delta Airways and Google

Interview question: “How many basketballs would fit in this room?”

Why it’s asked: This might seem like a strange interview question and it might catch the candidate off guard, but it’s one of the best ways of getting a better insight into their personality. It presents a good opportunity for showcase their creativity, though it may show that they have an analytical mind if they try to use calculations to answer the question.

Company: AT&T

Interview question: “If you could be any superhero, who would you be?”

Why it’s asked: If you’re hiring for a customer facing role that requires a big personality, then consider asking this question at the end of the interview. It will show you whether the candidate is able to think on their feet, whether they have a good sense of humour, and how serious they are.


Bowen Eldridge Recruitment is a Recruitment Agency that specialises in Accountancy Practice, Finance and Marketing roles.