Top 5 interview questions to remember when recruiting

A job interview isn’t simply a one way street where the onus is on the applicant to turn up, jump through hoops and impress the recruiter.

In fact it is the only chance you, as the recruiter, have to gain an understanding of the applicant.

Sure, it’s like being on Mastermind for the candidate being interviewed but that doesn’t make you Magnus Magnusson.

You’re on the spot just as much as them. The cost implications alone from making a “bad hire” are estimated to run into six-figure sums.

So, to ensure you arrive at the right decision, what questions should you be asking candidates at interview?

What’s your understanding of the role?

Sure, they’ve read the job advert but do they really understand what the role entails? They might make the cut on paper but this question allows candidates to demonstrate their understanding of the position with your organisation.

It’s one thing to read the job description and rehearse a few answers. It’s another to show the understanding of the role that enables applicants to hit the ground running.


So why do you want this role and what would you hope to achieve in it?

Plan for the future but live in the now. The candidate has explained their understanding of the role but now you want to know why they want it. What is it about this position that makes them tick?

Is it simply ‘just a job’ to them or do they have high ambitions to take it to a new level?

This is also key to clarifying your candidate’s long-term career goals as well as determining if they are fully committed to the position.


Why do you want to leave your current role?

A loaded question but a useful insight. They’ve applied for the position but does this necessarily mean they ‘want’ to leave their current role?

It certainly offers that idea but perhaps the notion of the grass being greener elsewhere is the driving force behind their application.

Asking candidates this will offer you a clear outlook on why they’ve applied for this role specifically with your company while differentiating between those who actually want this job and those who are chasing a new job.


Tell us about a time you failed to meet an objective/target – how did you react and respond?

A classic competency question. Simple, to the point and reveals what type of character your applicant has.

They could talk all day about their successes but how do they react when confronted with their failures.

Having an applicant telling you they ‘don’t fail at anything’ just won’t cut the mustard.

You want them to reveal a situation where things may not have gone according to plan and fell short. This is an important aspect but not as important as the follow up detail about how they reacted to this.


Do you have anything else lined up or any other pending offers of employment?

If you want to put your applicant on the spot, throw them off track and see how they respond under pressure, this is the curveball question you ask.

Why? Because it offers an insight into what else the candidate has in the pipeline, who you’re up against trying to recruit this person and if the candidate is actively looking for other employment opportunities.

The answer you’re hoping for is “no”, they have nothing else lined up and this is the sole job interview they are attending. This would display their commitment to wanting to work for your company alone.

Alternatively, you might find they have other interviews lined up or offers on the table. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it shows they’re in demand and clearly have something to offer.

So, the next time you’re recruiting put these questions to your candidates for an informative and revealing insight that should see you make the best hire.