Interview Questions You Should be Asking

By business.com editorial staff,
business.com writer
| Updated
Jun 02, 2020
Image Credit: Jovanmandic / Getty Images

Ask these questions to find the best employee for your company.

  • When you interview applicants, asking the right questions is imperative to finding the best candidate.
  • Ask potential employees about their values and goals as well as their experience.
  • It is also a great idea to ask at least a couple of unconventional questions to see how clever the applicants are and how they respond when they are caught off guard.

When interviewing new talent for your business, you'll want to be as thorough and selective as possible. To get the best feel for your candidates, you have to get them to open up about topics such as their values and their intentions in potentially working for your business. We interviewed experts for their input on the matter. Here are the questions every employer should ask potential employees.

Questions about their values

While you don't want everyone on your team to be copies of each other, you should still have some common values or principles to establish a mutual understanding. Ask these questions to identify their priorities: 

  • What do you look for in a company?
  • How do you find purpose in your career?
  • What are some must-have values you look for in an employer and why?

Questions about the future

Your candidates' aspirations and outlooks for the future tell you a lot about them as workers and people, like how motivated they are and how hard they are willing to work. Find out more about them by asking questions like these: 

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • What are some anticipated industry changes on your radar, and how are you preparing for them?
  • Define your aspirations. How do you plan to achieve them, and what is your timeline?

Questions about past work experiences

If you brought an applicant in for an interview, odds are they have experience of some sort, whether it's college internships or years of professional work. Find out more about your applicant's background, dedication and expertise in the field by digging into their past. Here are some questions to ask: 

  • Why did you leave (or why do you plan to leave) your most recent job?
  • What is one accomplishment you're most proud of and why?
  • How has your past work experience helped you grow?
  • What have you learned while working with other individuals or businesses in this industry?

Questions about personal or professional challenges

Adversity often makes people stronger. Don't be afraid to ask about obstacles your potential workers have endured and overcome. Here are some examples: 

  • What are some challenges you've faced, either professional or personal, that have impacted your career, and how did you overcome them?
  • Explain a time of conflict in your professional journey. What caused it, and how did you resolve it?
  • Everyone makes mistakes. Name one you've made in the past and tell me how you handled it.
  • Was there ever a time you fell short of your goals? How did you move forward?

Questions about interests

Get to know your candidate on a more personal level by inquiring about their passions and understanding what work they'd prefer to do. Consider asking these specific questions: 

  • What are your professional interests?
  • What are your personal interests? How might you channel them in your career?
  • What motivates you to get out of bed every morning?
  • What are you most passionate about?
  • How do you define success?

Questions about their intentions in the industry and with your company

As much as you'll want to know about your future employee, one of the most important points is what they can do for you. Here are some questions to help you find out: 

  • Why did you enter this industry?
  • What attracted you to our company?
  • What can you do for our company? 

Unconventional questions

Additionally, you should ask your applicants at least a couple of uncommon questions. Many applicants have taken the time to research and prepare their answers to the types of questions mentioned above, but they don't prepare answers to questions they never expected you to ask. Therefore, these questions will give you a much better idea of who each applicant is as a person and what makes them tick.

These some examples of unconventional interview questions from Inc:

  • What's your favorite joke?
  • What's your superpower?
  • Who is your favorite superhero?
  • What is your favorite Halloween costume?
  • What is your favorite holiday?
  • If you had a chance to be CEO of our company for a day, what is the one thing you would change immediately?
  • What is the last thing you argued about? How did you settle it?
  • What is your favorite book?
  • What is the last thing you read?
  • Who is your favorite artist?
  • If you won the lottery for $20 million, would you want it in annual payments or a lump sum?
  • What is the last skill you taught yourself?
  • If you were told you had 10 years to live, what would you do?
  • Do you have passion projects outside of work? What are they?
  • If you could not work in the industry you're in now, what would you do for a living?
  • What advice would you give your previous boss?
  • Who is the smartest person you know? Why?
  • Would you ever be a business owner?
  • Would you work for a company owned by your family if that were an option?

Overall, ask what you want to know without overstepping boundaries. For instance, in many states, it's against the law to ask about an applicant's pay history. Familiarize yourself with the regulations, and stick with questions that simply allow you to get to know your potential employees. You can learn more about illegal job interview questions on our sister site Business News Daily.

business.com editorial staff
business.com editorial staff
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