Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

No matter what interview methodology a recruiter or HR uses, the most important thing is what questions they ask the candidate during the interview. After all, good interview questions will help to collect strategic information about a person, his/her hard and soft skills. Let’s analyze what questions should be asked at the interview or included in the interview script just in case.

Standard, basic interview questions may not be enough. However, they are mandatory. Namely, you should ask the candidate in detail about the previous place of work, its functionality, the reason for leaving, and the relationship with the team. You should also talk about education, knowledge of foreign languages, additional competencies, etc.

If there are many great candidates, a selection of these basic questions and careful observation of each applicant’s behavior will help identify those who behave confidently, wisely, answer quickly, and do not avoid specific, detailed answers.

Of course, you should stick to the timing, because you can get stuck “on the base” and not have time to clarify hard interview questions. Moreover, you should not be lazy to write down questions and answers to them, because even the most responsible recruiter’s memory can fail. 

It is also worth preparing questions with a “margin”. You may not have to voice some of them – the applicant will answer them in the context of others, but it will not come amiss to write them down.

During the conversation, it is recommended to ask the candidate if he/she understands everything about the vacancy to avoid misinterpretation of the facts. In addition, a person can get nervous and forget many details at the beginning of conversation, but towards the end, perception normalizes and everything falls into place.

Interview questions to ask candidates about… dismissal 

You must admit that rarely do interviewee candidates boldly and frankly state the real reason for dismissal. But by observing the behavior of the applicant during the following additional questions, you can draw conclusions. For example:

  • Why did you decide to leave, did you have a good reason or something else?
  • Did the chief try to offer more favorable working conditions and retain you?
  • Why do you think you were not able to fulfill yourself/implement the project at the previous company?
  • A few words about your ex-chief. In what issues did you find common ground and in what issues did you get stuck? What do you think he would say about you? In general, what do you think a perfect boss should be like?
  • What was your relationship with the previous team like? Were there people who were difficult to work with?
  • What tasks did the management set for you? Were they fully implemented? Were you personally satisfied with your results? What conclusions did you draw?
  • What did your typical working day/week consist of?
  • How do you feel about the large project workloads that your job may sometimes require?
  • Were you satisfied with your salary? What factors prevented you from getting promoted? If you did, what was the catalyst? 
  • Were you criticized at your previous job? If so, what exactly were you criticized for?
  • What difficulties did you face most often? What specifically did you not like about the work process?
  • Do you have any knowledge gaps related to your job that you would like to fill in the coming months?

interview questions to ask candidates

Best interview questions to ask about money

Asking about the desired level of remuneration or fee is a must! After all, there are situations when a recruiter is almost in love with his/her candidate, right here, now, in real time, the much-desired “match” between him/her and the employer is happening, and then – whoops! His/her salary wishes are too high or even unaffordable for the company. And the candidate was asked about the amount of remuneration at the very end (when everyone “fell in love”) or even forgot to fix this moment as specifically as possible.

Good interview questions to ask candidates about the proneness to conflict

These job interview questions will allow employer to understand whether the applicant is prone to conflict and able to build balanced/compromising relationships. Of course, according to them, all interviewee candidates are excellent communicators and “the heart and the soul of the team”. But this can be verified with the help of hard interview questions. For example, the following:

  • In your opinion, what is the most important thing in a team? 
  • What role does the leader play in team building?
  • What is your attitude to team building?
  • Do you have friends among your colleagues, even if you have not worked together for a long time? 
  • Are you sure that your ex-colleagues speak well of you and can give you good recommendations?
  • Have you already managed to form your own circle of professional connections?
  • How do you perceive life? What are your views on what is happening around you?
  • Have there been situations when you urgently helped your colleagues?
  • Have there been situations when you argued or discussed with employee, and what was it about? Can you give some examples?
  • Do you get annoyed by undisciplined people?
  • How would you start “blending in” the team in the first days/weeks of work?
  • Which people are pleasant to you professionally and which are not? Why? 
  • Do you like competition and are you ready for it?

Best interview questions to ask about self-esteem

A candidate’s self-esteem is important. After all, a self-confident person will drive the processes efficiently, while the one who has an overestimated/underestimated self-esteem may not always meet expectations. 

  • Tell us about your education. Did you choose your specialty on your own or on the advice of your parents?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are the things that you can be praised for and what are the things that you cannot?
  • How do you feel about criticism?
  • Can you easily speak in front of a large audience?
  • How do you make important decisions?
  • Do you enjoy your life? What are you particularly proud of?
  • What are the 3 most important decisions you have made in your life?
  • Do you like to take risks and how do you deal with failure? Are you afraid of losing?
  • What life experiences have influenced you the most? 
  • Do you often change your point of view?
  • What actions do you regret? Do you have many friends?

job interview

Good interview questions to ask “striving-avoidance”

It is important for a recruiter to understand whether a future employee is capable of taking risks or chooses to act too cautiously. It can be understood with the help of the questions as follows: 

  • Why do you want to take this position?
  • How did you improve your skills the last time? 
  • What strategic knowledge do you have and what knowledge do you lack?
  • What motivates you to work hard and insistently?
  • Do you easily cope with excessive workloads and are you prepared for them?
  • Do you have any hobbies or interests? 
  • How do you prioritize your work?
  • Do you have any bad habits and do you fight against them?
  • What do you think are the offenses for which employees should be dismissed without regret?
  • Have you ever offered any new solutions to change things and improve efficiency?
  • Do you often do more than your job requires?
  • List the typical problems at work that you have encountered most often. How did you solve them? 
  • Consider the following case: your boss sent you a letter with a task, but did not provide the necessary explanations. You have no opportunity to clarify the details, and the deadline is approaching. What will you do? Describe an approximate scheme for solving any work problem.
  • Do you have the ability to convince people that you are right? 
  • Can you present your capabilities correctly?

Is the candidate process- or result-oriented?

Of course, it is perfect when a candidate is result-oriented, but this is not always the case. Therefore, you can choose the following questions for job interview:

  • What are you willing to give up for the sake of successful work?
  • What is a good result of your work?
  • What are your career plans for the near future?
  • How do you manage to combine your career and family?
  • Are you able to plan your workload in advance?
  • What books help you in your work? What key points have you found in them?
  • Do you like challenging tasks and why? 
  • What is the best motivation for you?
  • Have you ever missed a project deadline?
  • What role do you usually take on in a team and why?
  • Tell us about your experience with planning – does it work or not? How many tasks do you set for yourself per day? 
  • Do you meet your personal deadlines?
  • The most interesting task you have ever solved.
  • What do you think it takes to get a foothold in a new job?

Unusual interview questions to ask candidates

Often, such questions allow you to see how a person reacts to something unexpected, gets lost, or, on the contrary, is calm and reasonable when answering. It is also a great way to lighten the mood and even put a smile on the face. Examples:

  • What kind of road sign could you be?
  • What would you do if you found an elephant in the kitchen in the morning?
  • Think of several ways to use a crayon other than its intended purpose.
  • If aliens personally offered you a tour, would you accept?
  • Why is a tennis ball fluffy?
  • Where would you spend your money if you won a million?
  • How many times do the hands of a clock cross in a day?
  • What superhero skill would you choose for yourself and why?
  • What song do you hum when you take a shower?

So, as we can see, good interview questions are a powerful tool that, if used skillfully, will allow you to obtain valuable information that the candidate did not even intend to tell the recruiter/HR – intentionally or not. What questions to ask a candidate at an interview to achieve the goal is determined not only by experience, but also by the desire to work in a structured and creative way ☺.

questions to ask employee


What interview questions should a recruiter prepare?
Interview questions can be divided into basic and those that depend on the format of the planned interview. For example, they can be situational, projective, competency-based, stressful, etc.
Can interview questions help determine the real reason for a candidate’s dismissal from their previous job?
Yes, they can. However, these interview questions should be veiled, indirect, and have a qualitative psychological basis. Do not ask direct questions to find out the reason for the dismissal. It is better to formulate questions in advance about the candidate’s point of view on phenomena/events and actions at the previous place of work.
What interview questions can test a candidate’s level of proneness to conflict?
These are mostly questions about the candidate’s attitude and views on team relationships, communication between colleagues and management, his/her own emotional experience and reaction to professional and life events.
Can the interview questions be unusual, unexpected in meaning, humorous?
Such interview questions are quite acceptable, and in some situations even desirable, to see how the candidate reacts, his/her ability to quickly switch and navigate a non-standard conversation. But, as in other cases, the recruiter or HR should feel the limit and not oversaturate the dialog with such questions.