12 of the Most Effective Job Interview Questions

Infini Kimbrough
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Although it is of utmost importance for applicants to properly prepare for a job interview, it is just as important that recruiters, employers, and hiring managers do the same. In order to know what a job candidate brings to the table, you must ask the right questions. If done strategically and effectively, the job interview enables the employer to determine the following:

If the candidate is capable of putting language to the skills and experiences presented on their application

  • If the candidate meets the requirements of the job
  • If the candidate would be a good fit for the team
  • How the candidate would respond in high pressure situations
  • The level of professionalism the candidate possesses.

The following are 12 of the most effective job interview questions to determine if an applicant’s skills, experience, and personality is aligned with the job’s requirements and needs of the company.

Personality Questions

1. Tell Me About Yourself. This one is to be expected but it’s important because it reveals what the candidate considers to be the most valuable characteristics and attributes worth highlighting about themselves. A strong answer for this question will make relevant connections to the job opportunity.

2. Why do you want this job? This question reveals what motivates the candidate. It also shows if the candidate has taken the time to research the company’s mission and values. The most impressive answer to this question will highlight something relevant about the company and make a direct connection between the company’s values and the candidate’s values.

3. What are your strengths and weaknesses? It is important for candidates to demonstrate self-awareness. No one is perfect and the candidate that isn’t intimidated by this question will demonstrate confidence even about their professional shortcomings. You should be looking for answers that relate to the functions of the role as well as if the candidate is proactively taking steps to improve themselves. The candidate’s answer should express their ability to find solutions rather than allow their weaknesses to hinder them.

4. What are your goals for the future? Allowing the candidate to share their career goals is an opportunity for the hiring team to gauge where the candidate sees themselves going with the company. This question also presents the opportunity for you to share any professional development or career advancement opportunities that may be of interest to the candidate. If the candidate is one that brings top talent, then presenting ways that the company could benefit the progression of their professional career is a strategic tactic to leverage what the company has to offer into peaking the candidate’s interest.

Situational/Scenario Questions

5. Tell me about a time when you had a workplace conflict with a colleague at work. How did you resolve it and what did you learn from it? Workplace conflict will occur in every workplace, therefore conflict resolution is a vital skill that candidates should possess. It is important that the candidate is able to communicate in a respectful and professional manner. The hiring team should be looking for answers that are assertive rather than passive, aggressive, or passive-aggressive. An assertive answer will be clear, direct, respectful, and ensure that the candidate learned a valuable lesson from the experience.

6. Can you give me an example of a time when you worked with a team of individuals to reach a common goal? Team-building skills increase productivity and overall performance in the workplace. The ideal candidate will be collaborative and dependable. Look for answers that demonstrate soft skills such as interpersonal communication. You could even follow-up this question by asking how the candidate would respond to differences of cultural background and opinions. It’s important to note how the candidate relates to those in the workplace that may not share the same cultural views or perspectives.

7. How would you communicate company policies to a disgruntled customer even if you know the customer is wrong? Customer service skills may be more relevant for some roles than others. However, even if you are not interviewing for a customer service role specifically, this question reveals the candidate’s problem-solving skills and their ability to prioritize empathy when communicating.

8. Tell me about a time you had a disagreement with your supervisor? This may be a very uncomfortable question for candidates to answer because it is an example of a high pressure situation. As a result, this question reveals how the candidate responds to uncomfortable questions on the spot. You want to note how the candidate handles stressful situations, especially when those situations involve leaders in the workplace. Conflict resolution with those of higher seniority requires the candidate to be able to confidently express their position while effectively regulating their emotions.

Job/Industry Specific Questions

9. Why did you/are you leaving your current or previous role? The most important thing to look for with this question are answers that remain positive. Candidates that leave previous roles in good standing with their previous employers and managers are green flags for the hiring team. This question reveals what the candidate values and what motivates them to pursue or leave a job. Gaps in employment or short stints in previous roles may not always be a red flag as long as the candidate is able to explain any discrepancies about their employment history in a manner that is honest, transparent, positive, and confident.

10. How will your current skills and experiences benefit you in this role? Even if the candidate’s skills and experiences do not directly relate to the role itself, they should be able to communicate their relevant transferable skills. This question also shows if the candidate truly understands the functions of what the role requires and if they feel confident about effectively doing the job.

11. What do you believe are the most important qualities to be successful in this role? This question will answer if the candidate possesses the qualities you are looking for. It further engages the candidate’s research on the company and measures the extent of the candidate’s interest.

12. How do you stay up to date on industry knowledge? This question shows that the candidate is always willing to learn and wants to grow in the field. It also reveals if the candidate understands the needs of the industry and how they will add value to it. An ideal answer to this question will show invested interest and a range of industry knowledge.

There are a plethora of interview questions that can be used to assess candidates for job opportunities. However, the most effective interview questions will determine if the candidate meets the requirements for the job and if what they bring to the role aligns with what the hiring team is looking for. At the end of the interview, you should reflect on a few things to determine if the candidate is a good fit: 

  • Can the candidate do the job to the standard that the company needs?
  • Did the conversation feel natural or rehearsed?
  • Did the candidate express genuine interest?
  • Is there anything that disqualifies the candidate from being considered?
  • What more do I need to know before making an offer to this candidate? (This question should help you determine if a second interview is needed)

When interviewing candidates, it is important to remember that they may be nervous, so allow some grace for imperfection. There is no such thing as the perfect candidate, so every answer won’t be spotless. Instead of looking for the perfect candidate, look for the candidate who is the best fit out of each applicant that is interviewed.


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