12 Most Important Interview Questions to Ask Potential Employees

By Ashutosh Jha → Last Updated on Tuesday, February 26, 2019
Any time you're taking on a new employee, you need to take the process very seriously.

The mistakes you make here can be much more costly than you think. About 50% of hiring managers believe that bad hires have cost their company thousands of dollars.

12 Most Important Interview Questions to Ask Potential Employees
Anyone can assess an applicant's resume. The interview, however, is a more nuanced process. Don't waste this opportunity to learn what you need to about a candidate.

12 Interview Questions TO Ask Potential Employees

Use this list of the 12 most important interview questions to ask potential employees.

1. What Makes You Want to Work for This Company?

You might start your interview with this question. The applicant could answer it in a few different ways that might also affect how you proceed.

Hopefully, they're prepared for this one. If they really want to work for your company, not just find any job, they'll know how to handle this question.

This question gives the applicant a chance to demonstrate their familiarity with the work your company does. They can also tell you something about themselves.

The best answers will tell you about how the experiences, passions, abilities, and interests of the applicant are a good fit for your company, and the position they'll be filling. 

2. How Have You Used [This Skill] to Succeed in a Previous Position?

Choose the most important skill your employee will need to perform in that role. This could be a number of different things:

  • Analytics
  • Relationship building
  • Management etc.

This question may be the most important one you ask.

What you're saying is, give me specifics. Make it clear to me that you have a deep understanding of what you need to do, how you'll do it, and why it's so important.

Don't be afraid to test them here. Ask follow up questions. You're looking for a thorough understanding of that skill, the tools they'll need to use to accomplish it, and the industry in general.

3. What Do You Think You'll Bring to Our Company Culture?

Your company culture is its character. It's both the way your employees experience their work environment and the way your company is perceived from the outside.

Someone whose intention is to simply show up for work and accomplish the minimum requirements will hate this question.

So you can use this question to distinguish them from the employees that truly want to get more from and bring more to their workplace. 

The best answers will probably give you an idea of the applicant's own values when it comes to the work they're doing. Good answers will also tell you how they will interact with their coworkers. It can also give you an idea of the expectations they have for how a company should treat its employees.

Especially if you're starting a new business, each hire will have a big impact on the culture you're building.

4. Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?

Don't avoid this question just because it's a little uncomfortable. Of course, you don't want to come off like you're digging for dirt on anyone, but that's not what this question is. In fact, it can be an opportunity for them to emphasize why they believe your company seems like a better opportunity.

What you need to keep in mind is that the answer deserves your consideration before you pass judgment on it. First of all, being laid off is very different than being terminated for cause.

Additionally, it's good to be aware that there are legitimate circumstances that can arise in someone's personal life that can make this a difficult question for them.

So what you're looking for is mainly that the applicant is able to express their reason.

5. Talk About a Time When You Had a Conflict at Work

Worker relations are extremely important. Ideally, the candidate will use this opportunity to express their appreciation for that.

You want to know they have experience working collaboratively and that they can articulate what caused conflict to occur. But more than anything else you're looking for an explanation of what they did to rectify the issue.

It's even better if they express an understanding of how they can avoid a similar conflict from happening again in the future.

This is also an opportunity for you to express that your company does what it can to keep employees satisfied with their workplace.

6. Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

Depending on the position, a long term commitment may be more or less important. But most often, the best hire is one that you can count on spending significant time with your company.

Of course, you can't ever guarantee they'll be staying for the long haul, but their answer to this question can give you an idea of what to expect.

This question also gives them a chance to show how their plans for the future can make them more of an asset to the company.

The best answer you could possibly get would both show that they have aspirations for growth, and express how they might achieve that within your company. It tells you that they want to bring more to their work than just filling a seat for 8 hours a day.

7. What Are Your Passions?

One reason to ask this question is the get to know the applicant a little bit on a personal level. There's value in making an effort to develop rapport. You can take a moment to see what it's like to interact with them.

You're also looking for examples of commitments they make and how they follow through on the things that matter to them. Things that may not appear on their resume.

8. What Do You Think Will Be the Biggest Challenges in This Position?

This is a chance for the applicant to demonstrate familiarity with your company and the responsibilities of the position. They can also show that they've done preparation and conducted some research on it as well.

The most forward-thinking applicants will be asking themselves this question before they even submit an application, and certainly before showing up for the interview.

The best answers you get will spin the question so that instead of focusing on their lack of experience with a task, they can show you that they're mindful of the challenges. They'll also demonstrate their problem-solving ability and that they're solution oriented.

9. Tell Me About a Mistake You've Made and What You Did About It?

This is another question you can ask to help you gauge an applicant's strengths and weaknesses. It may seem like this question is designed to dig further into their shortcomings, but it's really giving them a chance to showcase strength.

The first part of the question can tell you more about the applicant's willingness to conduct honest self-assessment and own up to a mistake. An inability to give you an example of a consequential mistake isn't a good sign. Even worse would be to hear them push part or all of the blame onto someone else.

We all make mistakes; that's normal and expected. The more important thing here is the second part of the question. You really want to hear them explain how they recognized the mistake they made, owned up to it, and rectified it responsibly.

10. What Do You See as Your Biggest Accomplishment in the Work You've Done?

Don't make the mistake of asking something more like, "tell me about your previous accomplishments." You're not looking for a list of the work they've done. The more valuable thing is to understand what about it makes them believe it's so notable.

This question can actually tell you more about the candidate's personality. You can learn more about what they value and, therefore, how you can expect them to direct their efforts in the future. 

11. How Do You Manage Your Time to Accomplish Work Responsibilities?

There are a lot of different ways the candidate might approach this question. What you're looking for are clear examples of proactive techniques they use:

  • Making to-do lists
  • Prioritizing tasks 
  • Accurately assessing the demands of each task
  • Utilizing time-saving tools etc.

If you have any experience conducting interviews to fill a position, you know it's a process that can demand a lot of your time. To discover and utilize a tool that can help, read more now.

12. Do You Have Any Questions for Us?

"No" is not an answer you want to hear.

The questions they have for you about the position can tell you a lot. It can tell you they have knowledge and experience in the industry. It can also show you that they care about the job, and they care enough about your company to do some research before the interview.

Using These Interview Questions to Ask Potential Employees and More Tips for Your Business

This list of interview questions to ask potential employees can be used in different ways that will be most effective for you. Choose some questions to better understand the candidate's proficiency in necessary skills and other questions to learn about the candidate's character.

It is equally important to know what you can and can’t ask potential employees. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides guidelines to prevent offensive questions and statements during employment interviews, especially if the question will most likely bring out any information about a disability.

For instance, asking your candidate about their use of prescription drugs or their history with illegal drugs is prohibited by federal and state laws. Get your answer by conducting a legal drug test instead.

There's much more you can do to maximize the profitability of your business. Make your next step a strategic consultation.

Ashutosh Jha

Ashutosh Jha is a professional blogger, Blog and IT Consultant. He writes about Blogging, SEO, Making Money, Internet Marketing and Web Design.
If you liked the post, You can follow him on the below social media.

Website: TricksRoad

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