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Best Interview Questions to Ask Applicants

12 Best Interview Questions for Employers to Ask Job Searchers

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Man and woman interviewing a job candidate

You Will Develop the Interview Questions that Work Well for You

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Do you have favorite interview questions that you ask each job applicant at an interview? If so, you’re not alone. Seasoned interviewers develop a short list of questions that quickly tell them what they need to know about a candidate’s job skills, job fit, and potential cultural fit. I have my best interview questions, too.

My best interview questions to ask focus on the skills and contributions that I most want my candidate to be able to make. They help me assess the prospective employee’s work experience and his or her approach to problem solving. They help me understand how the candidate interacts with people and the work environment.

These best interview questions have a track record of helping me select people who became successful employees. These are some of my best interview questions to ask a prospective employee.

Best Interview Questions

  • Interview Question: Tell me about your greatest achievement at work.
    Goal: The applicant’s answer tells a lot about what the individual values and what he or she considers important. It also demonstrates what the applicant considers to be an achievement.

  • Interview Question: Describe the work environment in which you will most effectively be able to contribute.
    Goal: The candidate’s response tells the interviewer whether their work environment is congruent with the candidate’s needs. The answer helps the interviewer determine the candidate’s cultural fit.

  • Interview Question: What kind of oversight and interaction would your ideal boss provide?
    Goal: You want to know how self-directed your candidate is. In a company that emphasizes empowerment, for example, a candidate that requires constant direction will not fit. If you know that the boss who is the hiring manager is a micromanager, the self-driven candidate may not succeed. (What are you doing about this boss’s management style?)

  • Interview Question: Tell me about a time when you had to overcome a major obstacle that stood in the way of you accomplishing a goal or commitment.
    Goal: You will obtain a clear picture of the candidate's past performance. You obtain information about his or her problem solving style and you also learn about what the candidate considers to be an obstacle. You may also learn about his or her interaction style with coworkers.

  • Interview Question: What prompted you to apply for this job? What interested you the most about this position?
    Goal: You want to know what the prospective employee is most interested in related to your position. The answer will tell you about what motivates the individual and what is important to the applicant.

  • Interview Question: Why are you leaving your current employer? (If the applicant is employed)
    Goal: The applicant's response tells you about his or her values, outlook, goals, and needs from an employer. You can determine what prompted the job search.

  • Interview Question: What are the three most important attributes or skills that you believe you would bring to our company if we hired you?
    Goal: The candidate's answer tells you what he or she considers most important in their skill set. You also learn about how the candidate views your open position.

  • Interview Question: What are the first three things you would do on the job if you were hired for this position?
    Goal: You will gain an understanding of what the applicant deems important, their understanding of the requirements of your job, and how the candidate approaches a new situation.

  • Interview Question: How would your coworkers at your current job describe your interaction with them and your general effectiveness in your work performance? How would your coworkers describe you?
    Goal: You want to understand how the candidate thinks that his or her coworkers view their interaction. You also want to assess how coworkers like working with the candidate. These questions give you an idea about the candidate's assessment of his effectiveness in his current job and in his relationship with coworkers. Past practice can predict future results.

  • Interview Question: How would your current boss describe your work and contribution?
    Goal: You want to understand how the candidate perceives the support and opinion of his current employer. This question tells you about the candidate's interaction with his current boss. It also informs you about how he accepts criticism and feedback.

  • Interview Question: How do you believe that your current skills will contribute to the accomplishment of our company's goals and mission as stated on our website or in company literature?
    Goal: Prospective employees have long been asked to learn about the company to which they are applying. In this Internet age, learning about the company has never been easier. This question tells you if the prospective employee did learn about your company. Further, it tells you if the candidate was thoughtful about his or her potential "fit" in your company and whether she will be able to contribute.

  • Interview Question: How do you go about continuing to develop your professional skills and knowledge?
    Goal: You want to hire employees who believe in continuous development and improvement. Listen carefully to whether the prospective employee pursues his or her own professional development or whether they depend on their employer to provide the development opportunities.

These are examples of the best interview questions to ask as you recruit and interview new employees. You will devise your own list of the best interview questions to ask as you participate in more interviews and experience the success or failure of the people that you hire.

Sample Job Interview Questions for Employers

Use these sample job interview questions when you interview potential employees.

Disclaimer: The information provided, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality. Please seek legal assistance, or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct for your location. This information is for guidance only.

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