Best Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

You worked hard on your job posting, including specifics about the role and desired qualifications, and captured the attention of several highly qualified candidates. They look good on paper, but how do you know for sure which applicant is The One? It’s not a straightforward process, but determining which interview questions to ask candidates can help you find the right match.

You called them in for an interview because their resume indicates they have the right skills and experience for the job. But that’s just part of the equation. How do they perform under pressure? Are they productive and reliable? Do they solve problems creatively? Do they value collaboration?

These are just some of the things you need to consider (beyond a simple list of skills and past experiences) before adding a new hire. Below, we’ll discuss the right interview questions to ask candidates.

What Are You Trying to Learn About Your Candidate?

If you’re asking questions that are already answered on the resume or cover letter, or are otherwise irrelevant, you’re really wasting your time. Job applicants also tend to rehearse some of the more well-worn questions (i.e. “Tell me about yourself?”), eliciting canned responses that may not shed much new light.

It’s important to get a sense of how the applicant thinks and performs, not simply what they know and where they’ve worked in the past. In this sense, you’re looking for clues about the applicant’s attitude and emotional intelligence, which requires you to ask some potentially difficult interview questions.

Okay, So What Should You Ask?

Questions such as “Tell me about yourself?” or “What are your strengths?” may be fine up front, but you’ll want to get creative in order to dig beneath the surface and encourage your candidates to really think. Examples of often-difficult interview questions that reveal more about your applicants include the following:

  • Tell me about a time you successfully delegated a task.
  • Explain a time when you didn’t know how to complete a task. How did you get the help you needed?
  • What personality types do you find particularly difficult to work with?
  • What are some of your non-work activities and hobbies, and what can they tell me about you?
  • How do you adapt to change? Can you give me an example from one of your past roles?
  • How do you define effective teamwork?
  • How would your past or current coworkers describe you, both positive and negative?
  • How would your past or current managers describe you, both positive and negative?
  • Besides compensation, what else do you value in a job?
  • What were some of the opportunities for improvement listed in past performance reviews?
  • How do you define success? What are some of your greatest professional accomplishments so far?
  • Tell me about the worst boss you’ve ever had.
  • Describe a workplace conflict in which you were involved and how you managed it. Were you able to get it resolved?
  • Tell me about a time when everything seemed to go wrong. How did you manage it?

The exact questions will vary depending on the company and position, but the goal is to ask interview questions that reveal the candidate’s soft skills, those pertaining to temperament, adaptability, teamwork, and creative problem-solving. Also, how they answer questions may be more important than the answer itself. Do they sound defensive or do you get the sense they’re hiding something?

Of course, technical skills and experience are important, but that’s what a resume is for.

Ready to Use the Best Interview Questions?

Asking the right questions is the best way to get to the right hire, but first you need to make sure you’re bringing in the right candidates. That’s where we can help. At Monster, we know what makes for a good hire and we have years of experience matching qualified candidates to jobs, across the globe. Find out how you can post a job with Monster for free and start reaching the candidates you need.