The best job interview questions

Sourcing new talent for your company isn’t easy. The whole process, from advertising a position to choosing between candidates, can be time-consuming and expensive, especially when job postings can receive tens or even hundreds of applications. Sifting through them is also challenging when research shows often only 35% of candidates are qualified.

But for hiring managers and candidates alike, few aspects are tougher than interviews. More specifically, once they’ve got the few promising applicants in front of them, many employers struggle with what they’re looking for, and how that translates into good interview questions.

In the list below, we’ve given you some ideas for great interview questions for any role. They all get straight to the heart of the matter at hand: what positive contribution the interviewee can bring, what unique talents they have, and how they’ll fit in the team you’ve already got in place. Read on to discover what you should be asking and why.

“What is your greatest weakness?”

This is a classic interview question, and with good reason. Even if they do have a rehearsed answer ready, it is still an opportunity to show honesty, that they’ve done their research into the requirements of the role, or even that they've put some thought and preparation into getting ready for their interview.

Ideally, look for honest shortcomings in areas that won’t negatively affect their performance with you, like a lack of sales experience when they won’t be in a customer-facing role; or for ‘strengths as weaknesses’, like a perfectionist streak - useful in some situations!

“How do you see your career progressing?”

There are a few things this question should draw out of qualified candidates: that they’ve done their research into the company, its roles, and its structure; that they have ambition; and that they think or plan ahead.

These are especially important aspects if you’re looking to hire someone to rise up the ranks, to stay loyal to your company and to possibly take on management positions (or higher ones) as time goes by. You may also be able to glean if someone tends to think in the short- or long-term, and whether they’re likely to stick around for years to come.

“What is your biggest or proudest achievement?”

While there are ways to make this more specific, such as asking for a work achievement, the open-ended nature of this form allows you to see if work or leisure is more valuable to them. You’ll also get an insight into what qualities they showed to reach their goal, and whether they’re the ‘go it alone’ type or a team player.

The range of answers here is potentially huge, but good ones will demonstrate the talents or skills the candidate may need at your company. If they need to be determined, self-sufficient, and organised, then a one-man Arctic expedition sounds great, but if it’s culinary talent and creativity you’re after, those two weeks living off basic rations may be less impressive and relevant than winning a cooking competition!

Ask something unusual and unrelated to the job

Whether it’s what is their spirit animal, who would play them in the film of their life, or what they’d do with a lottery jackpot, the idea with these ‘off the wall’ questions is to see how the interviewee reacts to the unexpected. Such surprises will hopefully give you a glimpse into the personality behind the rehearsed interview behaviour. Here are some examples of creative and unexpected job interview questions.

“Do you have any questions?”

Finally, while this is a staple of many hiring managers, and is asked at the end of most interviews, employers asking it can gain a lot from the responses. It can show where an interviewee’s priorities lie, and help determine whether they’re be a good fit for the company’s environment.

Be sure to have answers ready to common questions here, including queries on your company’s culture, competitors, and direction, as well as the expectations of, and qualities needed for, the role being advertised.

With all these questions, keep the goal in mind: determining whether this person will be able to make a positive contribution to your business. And with all your hiring both now and in the future, good luck!

About the author

Jake Waller is a wordsmith who plies his trade here at Findmyshift. He uses his background in engineering to simplify complex topics for a variety of tech firms. When not writing for Findmyshift he blogs under a pseudonym at My Name is Skylance and has a passion for creative writing and editing, about which he's always talking on Twitter.