Job interviews are a part of life, and all of us experience one at some point. interview questions give managers the opportunity to see how a potential employee works under pressure. The interview process is an invaluable tool for professionals to evaluate whether a candidate is a good fit for a job role.
However, it’s also important to remember that interviews enable potential employees to see if the has the values and opportunities they’re looking for. If you’re in charge of recruiting skilled employees, it’s essential that you know how to provide a positive interview experience.
There are many forms of interviews, and they often happen in stages. However, the interview is your chance to identify how the individual would fit in with the environment. managers have a big responsibility because the interview experience they provide can tarnish a ‘s reputation.
Why are Interview Questions Important?
There are many reasons interviews are important, but a common misconception is that they exist to test a prospective employee’s skills. While it’s important to make sure an individual can carry out the responsibilities associated with the role, interview questions give you an insight into each person’s personality and work ethic.
Do They Communicate Well?
Any great manager knows that it’s not about what someone says, but how they say it. An interesting article in the Huffington Post highlights that communication skills are about the delivery method more than the actual words.
Maybe a prospective employee doesn’t know the answer to your question, but how they explain that is more important. Remember, software applications and ways of working are a lot easier to learn than communication skills.
Are They Confident?
If you’re interviewing for a job that requires the person to handle negotiations, make decisions or deliver presentations, then it’s vital to assess their confidence levels. If an individual walks into the interview room with their head down and closed body language, then how will they persuade others to follow their lead?
Confidence is about having the ability and self-belief to make decisions and take calculated risks to achieve long-term rewards. If a person speaks clearly, can think on the spot and backs up their arguments then you know they possess this vital characteristic.
Will They Fit In?
Just because a candidate has the skill set and experience for a job role doesn’t mean they’ll perform well within your structure. Every organization has set ways of working, and managers understand the importance of assessing whether potential employees will adapt to the companies ways of working.
For example, if your prefers an informal environment and likes team members to communicate and share ideas, it’s vital to find a team player that enjoys communicating with others. Balance Careers has a helpful guide on workplace culture and how to assess an employee’s lifestyle and personality.
Many HR professionals focus on their responsibility to fill a vacancy but forget that their actions can directly impact the reputation of the . You need to find out if a candidate is suitable for the role, but it’s your responsibility to give them the opportunity to shine during the interview.
Even with Glassdoor having reviews for over 1 million companies and FutureFuel having an Employee Benefits , interviewing is still tiring. It doesn’t make it easier when you consider the candidate often goes through hours of getting asked common HR interview questions. However, negative reviews from candidates can impact your image.
Attracting Skilled Employees
According to the Center for Generational Kinetics, Millennials are the fastest-growing generation in the US workplace and most of the world. As a technology-based generation, they’re also more likely to share negative interview experiences with others.
Glassdoor, Social Media and even their personal blog could cause your some severe damage when it comes to recruitment drives. If a candidate researches your before submitting their application, bad reviews won’t do you any favors.
If you want to attract forward-thinking individuals, then make sure every interview you conduct is positive.
Do You Speak More Than Listen?
Interviews are nerve-racking and an unresponsive interviewer makes the experience even worse! Statistics show that 92% of adults fear one or more aspects of an interview, so try to be understanding. Show candidates, you about what they’re saying by using active listening techniques.
If you want to hire the best individual for the role, you need to ensure you can put them at ease and let them know you’re interested in what they have to say. Think about a time you went to an interview and how the experience made you feel. If an interviewer keeps their head down, concentrates on and seems uninterested, the interviewee won’t give detailed responses.
The way in which you direct an interview reflects on your skills as a leader. Future Fuel has an excellent guide on how to improve your leadership style.
The Best HR Interview Questions and Answers
There are so many interview questions you can ask, but we’ve picked the best ones to help you gain valuable insights into each prospective employee. It’s also important to know which answers to look out for and how to identify a toxic employee.
Typical HR Interview Questions
You’ve most likely asked and answered these questions on numerous occasions, so why do they never get easier? This set of common HR interview questions are vital for getting to know a candidate and testing their confidence levels.
Tell Me About Yourself
Perhaps the most infamous interview question around, “Tell me about yourself” leaves many of us scratching our heads. However, most candidates should apply the question to the job role and not their personal lives. It’s confusing when candidates tell you about where they’re from, what they like and their favorite food, but it also shows they lack adaptability skills.
There’s nothing wrong with a candidate sharing one or two personal details, such as their hobbies because it can relate to the job role. To that end, they should focus on their technical skills and suitability within their answer.
Look for how the candidate lists their skills and how they apply experiences to the role they’re interviewing for. There’s no set answer for this question, but it should cover three specific points:
- Professional background
- Personality Traits
- Skills that apply to the position.
2. What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?
Asking people about their strengths and weaknesses enables you to see how they evaluate their capabilities. However, it can also show you how they relate their skill set to the job role.
If an individual tells you their greatest strength is baking when they’re interviewing for an account manager role, it shows they don’t understand the job description. Every candidate should choose a strength that relates to the role.
For example, account managers need to be confident, fantastic with people and have organizational skills. A simple answer isn’t enough, and the candidate should be able to explain why they chose that strength and explain how they’ve shown it in previous situations.
Potential Answers and Mistakes:
It drives us crazy when a candidate gives us a sweet answer to this question! So many people don’t understand the meaning behind the weaknesses section and therefore it’s one of the best human resources questions to ask.
The moment a candidate tries to turn a strength into their weakness is the time when you should cross their name off the list. How can you build a strong team if your employees can’t recognize their weaknesses?
These responses are unacceptable as a weakness:
- My greatest weakness is I’m a perfectionist. I’m not happy until everything is right.
- I too much about people, which means I focus on customer happiness and satisfaction.
The whole idea of this section is to see how people can evaluate their skill-set and recognize areas for improvement. Nobody is good at everything, and our ability to recognize our weaknesses is important for self-development and contributing to a .
People understand the weakness section more and should be able to talk about how they’re working to build their skills. You want to know that a candidate is pro-active, able to acknowledge their flaws and works hard to improve themselves. This is why the strengths and weaknesses section is vital for interview questions.
3. Why Do You Want to Work at This ?
This question gives you an opportunity to see how much the candidate knows about the . Job seeking is a difficult process, but as a hiring manager, you want to ensure the individual you hire will contribute to the .
When a candidate answers the question, they should prove they understand what your does and identify your USP. The best answers should incorporate:
- The ’s vision and how they feel they’ll contribute to it.
- Understanding how the operates.
- Why they feel they’re a good fit for the . What can they offer?
- How they feel they could use and develop their skills to help the grow.
4. Are You Successful?
This is one of the most popular interview questions because it tests a candidates confidence and modesty. The main purpose of this question is to see how individuals measure their success and how they see their future.
Answers should contain what success means to each person and how they measure it. For example, one candidate might say they’re successful because they have a strong background in delivering customer-orientated results. Another might measure their success by how quickly they’ve climbed the career ladder or their previous feedback from senior management.
Candidates should mention their goals and talk about the future. The last thing you want is an employee who feels they’ve achieved everything they can because individual ambition is vital for growth. Try to steer clear of candidates that come across as egotistical.
5. Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?
It’s not always clear why an employee left their last role, asking this question offers valuable insights into their behavior.
The best answer will be one such as “I left my job because I want the opportunity to do more and build my career.” However, there are numerous reasons an individual might leave their role. Maybe the went into liquidation, or there were dramatic pay cuts. These reasons are understandable and shouldn’t raise any red flags.
If a candidate admits their employer dismissed them, it’s important you find out why. In some cases, someone might say they left a role because they were unhappy with a change within the . If you hear an answer like this, then it should raise red flags.
Business is a competitive industry, and new technologies mean the industry is changing. If a wants to succeed, they must have team members that embrace and adapt to change.
6. Why Should We Hire You?
Perhaps one of the most complex questions around, candidates struggle to explain why companies should hire them. However, it’s also difficult for you as an employer to evaluate each response.
When your candidates answer the question, look to see if they incorporate the following areas into their response.
- Do they list what makes them unique?
- Can they evidence their learning and adaptability skills?
- Have they directly contributed to the growth of another ?
- How will their skills and personality benefit your ?
7. Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?
Similar to the ‘tell us about yourself’ question, this one causes confusion for both parties in the interview process. However, it’s one of the easiest questions for candidates to answer.
You don’t want to know about a candidate’s plan to a family, go on that dream vacation and about their subscription to E-Harmony! The best answers to this question focus on career goals, within your .
Hiring and training an employee takes time, so you should use this common question to see if the candidate is a long-term prospect or just looking for a job until something better comes along.
8. Are You Interviewing at Other Companies?
Finding out if a candidate is interviewing at other companies offers many benefits. The main advantage is you can find out how much interest the candidate has from rival businesses, which is vital if they’re a good fit for the role.
Another benefit of asking this question is it enables you to see how a candidate deals with uncomfortable situations. Some managers ask candidates which companies they’re interviewing at and how the application process was. Doing this can highlight how trustworthy a potential employee is. If they’re willing to give away private information about a rival , then how can you trust them?
Candidates should explain that they are interviewing for other roles, but would love to gain employment with you, and why they value your business the most.
Situational Interview Questions
Situational interview questions are some of the most difficult for candidates to answer. managers love them because they show how an individual would perform their role and give valuable information about their behavior and personality.
If you want to conduct a comprehensive interview, then you must ask a series of situational questions. How the candidate answers the question is more important than what they say. One of the most popular techniques for situational questions is the STAR method.
The STAR method stands for Situation, Task, Action and Results. Now we’ll look at typical HR interview questions and answers that incorporate the STAR method.
9. Tell Us About a Time You Made a Difficult Decision?
This question enables you to assess how a candidate deals with decision making and problem-solving in the workplace. It’s a useful question if you’re interviewing for a managerial role.
The individual should pick a situation similar to the work they’ll be doing at your . It’s important that they explain why they had to decide and how they weighed up the pros and cons.
Candidates should talk about the decision they made, why they chose that path and remain confident they made the right choice. If a person can’t give an example, then they might not be suitable for a role which requires responsibility. However, even if the candidate doesn’t have enough work experience, they should still be able to use an experience from their personal lives or college.
10. What Suggestions Have You Made in Previous Roles? Were They Implemented?
Companies thrive on ingenuity and many say creative thinking is one of the most sought after skills when recruiting. Use this question to see how a candidate contributes to a and whether they can use resources to create better ways of working.
The candidate should give an example of the suggestion, what lead them to the idea and why it was beneficial to the . If their previous employer didn’t implement the ideas, then it shouldn’t really matter. The point is, the candidate has ideas and isn’t afraid to share them.
11. Give Me an Example of When You’ve Worked as a Team
It doesn’t matter if the role requires lone working, working as a team is essential for operations. Perhaps you hold regular meetings, or you streamline communications, but you need to know if a candidate has the companies best interests at heart.
Asking this question will let you know that:
- Candidates are easy to get on with.
- They communicate well.
- Working with a variety of personalities isn’t a problem.
- The team matters more than their own wants.
The candidate should choose a recent example and use the STAR method to explain how they worked as part of a team. Naturally, most candidates will want to show that they shone in the situation, but watch out for people that don’t mention the team.
Individuals should base answers around how they worked with others and contributed to the project not be a showcase of how brilliant they are.
12. How Do You Cope With Stress?
Every single job comes with elements of stress, but how an employee handles that stress can make or break their future with a . The British Safety Council published statistics showing that businesses lose 15.4 million workdays due to stress each year, which impacts profits.
Asking candidates how they cope with stress gives you insights into the resilience and adaptability. If not dealt with, stress can cause anxiety, depression and even physical illnesses, so it’s critical that this is one of your interview questions.
If a candidate acknowledges that stress affects them, then there’s nothing wrong with this. In fact, it’s more worrying when someone says they never feel stressed! The aim of this question is to see how they manage stress on a daily basis.
There are a variety of ways in which people deal with stress, but the answer should explain which methods they use and how it helps them continue to be a productive team member.
13. If You Were a Hiring Manager, What Would You Look For?
This question is ideal for testing how much candidates know about the job role and their opinion of skill sets versus attitude.
When answering the question, candidates should be able to recognize the importance of finding a balance between skills and attitude. Just because someone has the experience, doesn’t mean they’ll fit into the culture of the .
Difficult Interview Questions to Ask
Most people know the common interview questions and prepare for them, but these questions are a great way to test a candidate’s ability to think on the spot.
14. What is Your Philosophy Towards Work?
Work ethic is important, but there are few people who live to work. Asking someone about how they value their work shows if they take their role seriously or not. In recent years, employers have realised the importance of a work-life balance, so someone who says they dedicate all their time to work might not be a great prospect.
Answering this question will prove difficult for candidates, but you should look for answers that include a positive attitude to meeting challenges and understanding the importance of contributing to the .
15. Is Money or Job Satisfaction More Important?
Candidates with common sense will always say job satisfaction in an interview, but do they mean it? The point of this common interview question is to see how they respond.
Prospective candidates should talk about how job satisfaction offers more happiness than money. Naturally, people want to know there are financial rewards, but companies thrive with pro-active employees that enjoy their job.
16. How is Our Industry Evolving? What are the Key Trends?
Test your candidate’s knowledge about their industry and how committed they are to learn about it. Knowing the latest trends and how they apply to each job role means that a potential employee will be open to new technologies and ways of working.
Look for answers that show a good working knowledge of the industry and current trends. In some cases, a candidate might be changing industries but they should still show they’ve researched the industry and know about the current trends.
17. Do You Handle Criticism Well?
This is one of the best human resources interview questions to ask because it shows how resilient an employee is. Nobody likes criticism, but negative feedback is a part of the workplace.
Candidates should discuss a situation where they received negative feedback, and why the feedback was given. They should tell you how they felt during the feedback and the steps they took to improve their performance.
If an interviewee can explain how they used negative feedback to create a positive experience, it shows they can handle criticism and accept it’s part of work for everyone.
18. Are You Willing to Travel or Move for Work?
No can be sure of what the future holds, and circumstances might mean they need to change premises or ask their staff members to travel. It’s important you ask this question to prospective employees so you can see their willingness to adapt.
You should forget candidates that answer no immediately because they aren’t willing to adapt and grow with your . If an employee has children, then it would be difficult to move, but they should still show an ability to adapt and accommodate changing requirements.
Weird and Wonderful Interview Questions
We’ve covered some difficult questions and the typical interview questions, but how about the weird ones? These interviews will shock potential candidates, but they show you how individuals think and react in difficult situations.
19. Explain the Internet to an 8-Year-Old in Three Sentences
HR managers at Microsoft ask this question and it’s very tough to answer! Microsoft uses it as a tool to measure how effectively a candidate can explain complex information to others.
Candidates should simplify their answer and make sure it’s understandable to an eight-year-old. If they split the question up and deliver three sentences that describe the internet and how it works, then you know they have excellent communication skills.
20. How Many Tennis Balls Can You Fit Into a Limousine?
Why would you ask a question that’s impossible to answer? Well, there are many reasons to ask candidates this question, but most importantly, it makes people think on their feet. Candidates can prepare for most questions, but throwing in something like this is sure to put potential employees on the spot.
When you ask a candidate this question, see how quickly they respond. While it would be impossible to give an exact answer, they should try to work the problem out and show they can visualize the problem. Remember, it’s not about how accurate the answer is, but how the individual approaches the problem.
21. If You Were a Color, Which Would You Be and Why?
Instead of asking candidates what their favorite color is, ask them to describe which represent their personality. Color psychology is an interesting topic, and studies show we associate certain shades with moods and attributes.
Try to remember that it doesn’t matter which color the individual chooses, but how they relate themselves to that specific shade. Blue promotes tranquility, while brown represents strength and responsibility.
Potential employees might not know color psychology, but their perceptions of each color are what’s important. Maybe someone views green as a source of wisdom, or red emulates leadership, so you should concern yourself with how they view themselves.
22. If You Could Choose One Superpower, What Would It Be?
This is a fun question that requires candidates to use their imagination. Prospective employees should take their time when answering.
The best answers will be those that apply to the job role. For example, if the role requires a lot of travel, then the ability to fly would be beneficial. If you’re hiring for a role that requires organization skills, then the ability to slow time down would be a good answer.
Don’t focus on the superpower someone chooses, but look at how it would benefit the .
23. If You Won The Lottery, How Would You Spend the Money?
Nobody expects this question because it has little to do with a job role, but it’s actually a fantastic tool for assessing a candidates personality.
Does you have a strong social responsibility scheme? Perhaps you want to recruit employees that about important issues. If they say that they’d give a large chunk of the money to charity, you know you’ll be hiring an ethical team member.
Other answers to look for is if they’d save the money, or put some away for the future. This shows the candidate is responsible and plans for the future. A person who will spend all their money on material things probably doesn’t have a strong sense of morality. How would they get on with the rest of your team?
24. Tell Us a Joke
We have to say that this question is really unfair for interviewees, but fun for interviewers! If you want to stop a candidate in their tracks and raise their anxiety level, ask them to tell you a joke.
An individual’s ability to tell a joke doesn’t reflect their suitability for a job, but it can show you what type of personality they have. Having a joke ready shows the candidate is prepared for unpredictable situations, and if you have an informal work environment, they’ll fit in well.
25. How Would You Survive During an Apocalypse?
This is a good question to drop in when the individual is getting comfortable in their interview. It causes them to think quickly and relate to an unlikely situation they’ve probably never thought of before.
The aim of this question is to test whether an individual can plan in a crisis and how they’d use their current knowledge to survive.
Candidates should talk about their skillset and use it to come up with an effective plan. One important element of the answer should involve working as a team and how the individual would see their role in the situation. Are they a leader? If so, they should discuss how they would delegate roles and ensure their group continued to survive.
26. If You Ruled the World, What’s the First Thing You’d Do?
You can use this question to see how a candidate would use power and how they prioritize world issues.
Each candidate might answer differently, but this question is about seeing how perceptive a person is. Do they understand how an ecosystem of communication and getting things accomplished works? People that do, will talk a lot about delegation and setting a strong foundation.
Now It’s Your Turn
There comes a point in every interview where the tables are turned and it’s the candidates turn to ask you questions. Interviewing numerous people is time-consuming, but it’s essential you allow the person to ask questions and you provide them with comprehensive answers.
Think about how the candidate has answered each question and try to understand that they want to know more about the . After all, if a candidate has no questions, then they’re not very interested in the role.
Are You a Good Interviewer?
Answer each question honestly and be aware that the person you’re interviewing is also assessing your suitability to be their employer. If you think a candidate would be a perfect fit for the team but you don’t respond well to their questions then asses how you can improve.
interview questions are designed to give you a comprehensive look at how a potential employee will fit into your team. Interviewing can be fun if you take the time to create a welcoming experience and environment for your candidates. Now that you know which questions to ask, and the answers to look out for, it’s time to build a strong workforce.