15 Good Interview Questions to Ask the Interviewee

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 7 October 2022 | Published 30 November 2021

Updated 7 October 2022

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Interviewing is one of the most crucial aspects of the hiring process because it gives you the opportunity to assess the skills, abilities and professional experience of potential candidates. Beyond asking the right questions about industry and expertise, the interview presents a chance to determine candidate maturity, self-awareness and how they would fit within your team. Assessing these qualities in one interview involves asking the right kinds of interview questions. In this article, we explore the most important interview questions and the tips needed to help you assess candidates' answers, so you can make an informed hiring decision.

Related: 5 Ways to Be a Good Interviewer

Choosing good interview questions to ask the interviewee

Choosing good interview questions to ask the interviewee requires a strong awareness of your team's needs and the needs of the company. Going into an interview with a strategy based around these needs can help give you a blueprint for the questions that may be the most pertinent to ask. Before asking your potential candidate questions, try:

  • writing and highlighting the broad areas of knowledge that apply to the role you're hiring for

  • initially developing general questions for each of these major areas of knowledge

  • setting the right tone by adjusting the language of these questions to reflect the values of the team and company

  • coming up with 'how' questions rather than 'why' questions to elicit responses that tell a story and a process

  • developing probes for questions where you require more detailed and elaborate responses

Remember, an interview is a chance to have a communicative and collaborative discussion with a potential employee. Thinking about interviews in this way can help candidates feel at ease and more willing to interact comfortably and honestly. This can make choosing the best person for the role much more straightforward.

Related: What are the characteristics of good questions?

15 interview questions to ask the interviewee

Having a good mix of soft-skill, hard-skill, situational and behavioural questions can help you develop a well-rounded interview. It can also help you get a sense of a candidate's overall strengths to determine how well these fit into your team. Here are 15 interview questions to effectively open a dialogue between you and your interviewee:

1. What attracted you to this position specifically?

A great way to begin an interview is by asking what first attracted the candidate to apply for the position. This can help you determine their level of enthusiasm and research. It can also help you understand what about the role the candidate finds most appealing, which establishes what they may continue to be passionate about if hired. Choosing a candidate who is enthusiastic can translate into an excellent work ethic and longevity within the company.

2. What hard skills make you the most qualified?

This question can help you establish what tangible, hard skills the candidate has that are necessary for the role. It gives you a chance to hear in greater detail what core competencies the candidate has, how well they understand what skills are crucial for the role and whether they've considered how well their skills match your needs. This question also demonstrates the candidate's ability to think critically about how their specific skills can benefit your team.

Related: What are Hard Skills and How Do They Differ From Soft Skills?

3. What professional achievement are you most proud of?

This question is good to establish what skills a candidate thinks are most important and how well they translate to the position. It can also provide a sense of their transferrable skills. Whether their achievement focuses on a successful team project, a personal award or a certification can uncover situations the candidate excels in.

4. Can you think of a time when you had to overcome a challenge in the workplace?

Asking what a candidate perceives as a challenge is a classic behavioural interview question because it can tell employers a lot about how a candidate translates their experience to the working world. Understanding the perceived challenge and the steps they took to overcome it can help you determine how they deal with workplace conflict, deadlines, mistakes, customers and daily stressors. From their answer, you can learn whether they possess patience, wisdom and leadership skills.

5. Do you prefer to work alone or in a team?

This question can help you determine if a candidate suits the type of work you may ask them to complete within your team. This is a good way to match a candidate's personal preferences with how your team operates. Perhaps a candidate prefers to work alone with a lot of uninterrupted time but your business thrives on collaboration and multitasking. This question can help determine how they interact with others and if they have the potential to be comfortable in the work environment you foster.

6. What skill would you most like to improve upon?

A variation of the common question, ''what's your biggest weakness?'', this query can shed light on where candidates feel they require improvement. It can also help determine how a candidate goes about the steps needed to achieve personal improvement. This question gives an applicant the chance to show their self-awareness and the amount of planning they put into personal growth and professional development.

7. Why did you leave your last job? Why are you considering leaving your current job?

This question can provide invaluable information about how your candidate makes career-related decisions and their critical thinking skills. Perhaps they're seeking a more challenging role that can help them excel in their career path. Or, perhaps they're taking a few well-developed skills and translating them to a brand new path. The important thing is that they demonstrate the thought process behind their actions in a truthful and honest way and that they take these decisions seriously.

Related: Interview Techniques: Definition and Examples

8. How do you manage tight deadlines?

If your organisation is one where teams work quickly to a high degree of accuracy, you likely want your chosen candidate to handle tight deadlines in a logical and systematic way. This question can apply to a candidate even if your workplace is free from challenging time constraints because it demonstrates how they deal with stress. You can follow up by asking if they've ever missed a deadline and how they dealt with the situation to see if their process is similar to how your company operates.

9. What is your ideal position and why?

This question gives your candidate the opportunity to tell you about the technical and soft skills they value most, and can help you determine how closely these align with the values, duties and responsibilities of the position they're interviewing for. It can be a great way to determine if your candidate is content staying within one role for a long period or if they desire the chance to make drastic changes and advance within a team.

10. How would your coworkers describe you?

It can be important in the hiring process to understand how candidates see themselves through the eyes of their current team. This question helps you determine a candidate's soft skills and interpersonal workplace relationships, indicating how they may work with the members of your team.

11. How would your supervisor describe you?

This question can give you a sense of how your interviewee interacts, or interacted, with other managers. Perhaps your team works remotely, only communicating with managers formally and relying on reliability, promptness and efficiency. If your interviewee describes their manager relationship as informal and friendly, they may struggle to adapt to your managerial style.

12. Have you applied for any other positions?

This question can tell you much about the candidate, such as their application style and the roles they've been applying for. If they've applied for similar positions, this demonstrates that they're dedicated to developing within one type of role. If they've applied for many different positions, this can indicate that they may not have a concrete idea of the role they want.

13. Where do you see yourself in five years?

This question can help you determine if your candidate has the right professional drive and personal aspirations to fit into your team and company. It shows if they have clearly defined goals and if they're interested in career advancement and opportunities. Consider discussing how the business may help support them on their path to reach these goals.

14. What do you like to do outside of work?

It's important to find a candidate who can connect with you and your team, forge bonds, share interests and build productive, fruitful relationships. This question gives you a chance to get to know candidates on a more personal level and understand their interests and drive. Breaking down the rigidity of the manager and interviewee dynamic helps candidates feel more at ease and able to demonstrate their strengths.

15. Do you have any questions for me?

It's a classic way to end an interview and a question that demonstrates a candidate's enthusiasm. Specific and relevant questions show that they've prepared and taken time to deliberate what they want to know. Questions from candidates can also reinforce their passion for the role, proving they want to know how they can practically fit the position.

Related: The Interview Process: A Complete Guide

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