Questions to Ask Job Candidates

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10 Strategic Questions to Future Employees

Asking the right questions in a job interview really matters when considering a potential candidate.

Ask thoughtful, detailed and strategic questions so that you have as much information as possible about each candidate.

Here Are Our Top Strategic Questions to Ask Job Candidates

1 | Tell me about yourself.

This open-ended request for information is a way to break the ice and elicit thoughtful conversation. With this question, you are analyzing cultural fit. Is this the kind of person who can help your organization solve problems rather than create them? Do they have soft skills (such as good, clear communication) that are transferable to the job?

2 | What is your ideal culture to work in?

This helps you understand if the candidate is a good fit for your workplace culture and team. Pro Tip: Go beyond just asking about ideal workplace culture in the interview. Have your candidates take a personality test to see where they actually land in cultural fit. Workzinga is designed to match employees and companies up, changing the way jobseekers and employers come together!

3 | When is it okay to bend the rules?

Asking questions that pertain to a candidate’s character can really let you know whether their personal values and morals align with those of the organization. The answer to this question should be never–it’s never acceptable to bend the rules or be unethical. You want someone who is trustworthy and honest.

4 | How do you respond to being behind schedule?

This is a great way to understand how a candidate handles pressure at work and manages multiple projects, potentially. You don’t want someone that will put getting their own work done ahead of helping others all the time, but you also don’t want someone who is going to always put others at the top of their list. The ability to decipher between these will lead to a happier, less stressed employee. In the long run, this will lead to loyalty and higher retention rates.

5 | What would you do in a difficult situation at work?

A candidate’s answer to this question can give you insight about how much empathy and patience they have. It can also be an indicator of their leadership skills. You might have to give an example of a difficult situation in order for candidates to better answer this question–plus it helps you gauge candidates against one another more easily.

6 | How do you encourage others to work with you?

If the position you are hiring for requires a lot of collaboration, this can be an especially excellent question. This is a behavioral question that gives you a window into how a candidate influences others to achieve a common goal and can also tell you about their leadership skills.

7 | If you could go back in time, would you change anything?

Resumes often boast of a candidate’s achievements. But this question garners a little introspection on a difficult situation. Their answer can tell you a lot about how they handle overcoming adversity and challenges and even how much humility they may have.

8 | What are you passionate about?

This can be a cause or a hobby. Understanding what a candidate is passionate about (or even how passionate they are about something) can tell you about their personality and whether they would be a good cultural fit with your organization. Having a passion they actively pursue means they are highly motivated and willing to go the extra mile.

9 | Tell me about a time you failed to reach your goal?

This question is designed to show employers how a candidate responded to adversity or failure. An ideal candidate will frame the “failure” as an opportunity to learn new skills or make professional adjustments in order to succeed. Some bad answers include: “It wasn’t my fault,” or “I couldn’t do it because of [fill in the blank].” Answers like this show that a person will quit before they even attempt to find a path around an obstacle.

10 | What are you working on to improve yourself?

You can ask this question in regards to professional development on the job or a skill they are working on outside of their career. This can tell you how motivated an individual is, helping you weed those satisfied with the status quo out of your pool. It’s always good to look for a candidate that is willing to challenge themselves and learn new skills.