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What are appropriate Job Interview Questions to ask Candidates?

When it comes to hiring new team members, you have to go outside the box - after all, queries like "What is your biggest weakness?" only go so far. "Are you a team player?" disclose a lot about your candidates. 

While some job interviewers have a unique approach to interview questions, the majority of job interviews consist of an exchange of standard interview questions and answers. Here are some of the best interview questions to ask that will help you know about a candidate's strengths, interests, and weaknesses. 

Questions to Evaluate a Candidate's Strength and Ownership 

1. Tell me a little about yourself. 

There's a lot you should know if you're the interviewer: The candidate's resume and cover letter should tell you a lot, and you can learn even more via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google. 

An interview aims to see if the candidate will be a good fit for the job, which entails assessing the candidate's skills and attitude. Is it necessary for her to be a compassionate leader? Inquire about it. Is it necessary for her to take your firm public? Inquire about it. 

If you're the candidate, explain why you chose specific positions. Explain why you had to leave. Explain why you chose the school you did. Explain why you chose to attend graduate school. Discuss why you took a year off and what you learned from it. 

Connect the dots on your resume while answering this question so the interviewer understands what you've done and why. 

2. What is the single project or job you regard as your most significant professional achievement? 

The answers will reveal information about the candidates' previous accomplishments and sense of ownership. A fantastic response demonstrates that they are confident in their job and professional decisions while remaining humble enough to care about the company's success. For example, if a candidate is particularly proud of a sales or marketing campaign, listen for them to explain how the firm profited from it. Did it assist the organization in securing a significant client? 

3. Tell me about a time when you messed up? 

This is an oldie but a goodie. This is a tried and true self-awareness exam. (Truthfully, well-prepared candidates should anticipate it and be prepared to respond.) Someone who owns up to their blunder and learns from it is usually humble and thoughtful. Candidates who place responsibility on others or make a "fake" blunder (e.g., "I worked too hard and burned out.") raise warning flags. 

A good response to this question would be: 

Accept responsibility for a mistake. To avoid appearing weak, applicants will frequently disguise a mistake with a self-compliment or an excuse. "I was so focused on X that I forgot about Y," for example. On the other hand, good replies will only demonstrate that they miscalculated. 

Describe what they took away from it. It's one thing to make a mistake; it's quite another to use that mistake as a chance to grow. Great firms learn more from failure than success, and candidates who share this mindset are exactly what you need to advance. 

Work Ethic Questions to Ask a Candidate 

4. Tell me about a time you set difficult goals? 

This question can help you determine whether a candidate is goal-oriented and results-driven. "What did you do to accomplish them?" is a good follow-up question. Allow the candidate to explain the process and purpose of the objectives they established for themselves. 

A decent response to this question would be: 

An excellent response to this interview question demonstrates that they understand what difficult goals are and that they work hard to achieve them while keeping a high level of job quality. Listen for responses that describe a lofty aim and explain why it differed from their usual targets. Despite a lack of success, responses that confess the candidate fell short of this aim can reflect self-awareness and confidence. 

5. What have you done professionally that you wouldn't want to do again? 

The way a candidate answers this question will reveal how they felt about work they didn't like, which is bound to happen to everyone in every job at some point. 

A response to this question would be: 

  • Something really difficult. What made it so difficult? Was it due to bad planning, execution, or something else entirely? 
  • Something to do with a team. Follow up with questions about the team, such as their function on the squad. 

It can be highly enlightening to talk about intense experiences that make individuals emotional. Keep in mind that a good response doesn't have to fit into any of the categories; what matters is whether they gained benefit from the event despite their lack of want to repeat it. 

6. What was the toughest decision you had to make in the past year? 

This question aims to assess the candidate's capacity to reason, problem-solving abilities, judgment, and potentially even willingness to take calculated risks. 

A lack of response is a clear warning indicator. Everyone, regardless of their position, has to make difficult judgments. The candidate's responses could be professional or personal. A successful response to this interview question would demonstrate how the candidate was able to prioritize what was most important when each feasible alternative had its own set of advantages and downsides and displayed its thought process as indicated above. 

7. If We Conduct to poll of everyone you have worked with, what percentage would you get?   

You can't please everyone all of the time at work. The response to this question will reveal whether your candidate has enough passion for their own work to have ever had a disagreement with one or more of their coworkers. 

However, because you don't want the prospect to be unlikable, consider asking follow-up questions to learn why they may have alienated their coworkers: "If I were to interview these people, what terms would they use to describe you the most frequently?" 

The percentage they give in the question is less essential than the follow-up question about word choice. In their responses, you should be pleased by terms like "passionate" and troubled by words like "lazy". 

While terms like "stubborn" may signal a candidate's self-awareness — and devotion to things their coworkers would rather move on from — not all negative words are red flags. 

8. What is your definition of hard work? 

Some companies move at different paces, and this question can help you determine whether your applicant will be able to keep up with the rest of your team and contribute value. It can also help you spot someone who is a "hard worker in disguise," meaning someone who is currently employed in a slow-moving organization or in a function that isn't a good fit for them but desires to work somewhere where they can get their hands dirty. 

Answers that emphasize working hard while also working smart are also excellent. Always keep an ear out for this - putting in the effort to figure out the best approach to do a task is frequently just as important as the task itself. 

Questions to Test a Candidate's Knowledge 

9. What has surprised you the most so far about the interview process? 

This is a question that no candidate can truly prepare for, but it will give you some insight into how candidates feel about the whole situation. You may also watch how they think on the spot. 

You're looking for specifics here, such as information about the workplace space, the team's personalities, or a task they were given to perform. 

Answers directed at you are even better, as they demonstrate that the candidate is comfortable stating their thoughts before decision-makers. For example, perhaps the candidate was taken aback when you asked them about something on their CV that they don't give much thought to. 

10. Do you have any questions for me? 

This is another amazing interview question that tests candidates' ability to think on their feet. The answer to this question also indicates the candidate's priorities. Are they inquiring about the company's culture or pay? Are they interested in prospects for advancement or learning opportunities? 

Although there are no right or incorrect responses, personality and communication style are crucial variables to consider when selecting someone to join your team, and you may get a sense of these factors from their response. 

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