18 Good Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

You’ve found several great candidates for an open position. But, you only want to send the best of the best to your client. How do you decide who the best candidates are? Ask them questions.

By interviewing your candidates, you can gain more insight on their skills and who they are as people. And, you don’t waste your client’s time with inadequate candidates. Overall, you’ll stand out as a recruiter who finds the best candidates.

But to do all this, you need good interview questions to ask candidates.

Interview questions to ask candidates

Below are interview questions to ask candidates. The questions are divided into sections by type of question. Takes notes during the interviews and save them for later.

Background interview questions

Here are basic questions to ask an interview candidate to learn about their background.

  • Why are you unemployed? Or, why do you want to leave your company? Employees leave jobs for both good and bad reasons. An employee who was fired for misconduct might be questionable. An employee who wants to change jobs to gain more opportunities might show more promise.
  • Have you applied for any other jobs? Do you have any offers? It might not be worth the time to send through a candidate who has multiple offers already. Or, if a candidate is a huge standout with another prospect, you can encourage your client to look at the candidate sooner.
  • How flexible are you to commute or move? Sometimes, changing jobs means the employee must commute further or even move. Find out if the candidate is willing to make this adjustment.

Experience interview questions

You need good interview questions to ask a candidate about their skills and experience.

  • How does your experience relate to this opening? The candidate should be able to talk about their experience without reading straight from their resume. Not being able to talk about their experience might be a sign that the resume is fake. The candidate should also demonstrate that they are familiar with this particular job and the experience it requires.
  • Can you tell me what you did at [specific job]? Asking about a specific job can give you more insight on how good of a fit the candidate is. Instead of the resume overview, you get in-depth details on what the candidate actually did on an everyday basis.
  • How have you used [specific] skill? Your candidate might say they have a specific skill, but you need to know how proficient and experienced they are. Ask them how long they have been practicing the skill and how they use it. You might even ask the candidate to explain a complex topic to see how well they know their skill.
  • What are you the most proud of? This question lets the candidate talk about an accomplishment. Typically, the accomplishment will show the candidate’s potential and what brings them joy. But watch out for responses like, “I showed up to work every day.” These types of response might indicate a low-performing worker.

Behavioral interview questions

Behavioral interview questions help you find out how the candidate will react in certain situations. Here are some of the behavioral questions you can ask:

  • How do you handle conflict at work? Asking questions about conflict will show you personality and interpersonal skills. The candidate’s response might tell you about their ability to resolve conflict, or about their temper.
  • What steps do you take to make a decision? Decision-making skills are important, no matter the job. Questions about making decisions will reveal critical thinking and organization skills.
  • Can you describe a time when you were in charge of a project? Ask questions about leadership, especially if you are trying to fill a management position.  You will learn about their ability to organize, delegate, discipline, and take the lead.
  • Can you describe a time when you saw a problem and created a solution? Asking about problem-solving skills can tell you a lot about a candidate. Do they dive into a problem or defer to a manager? You will also learn about the candidate’s critical thinking skills.
  • How do you communicate with someone you don’t like? Communication skills are a must. Depending on the position, you might ask about communication with co-workers, managers, and customers. You might also ask about verbal and written communication.
  • What role do you normally have on a team? Many positions require an employee to work with a team at some point. Find out how your candidate typically interacts with a team.

Interview questions about expectations

You should learn about each candidate’s expectations and desires. These questions to ask a candidate in an interview will help you decide if they are a good fit and if they will stay with the client.

  • What are your career goals? Find out where your candidate sees themself in the future. If the candidate wants to become a director someday but the position you’re filling doesn’t follow that career path, the candidate will likely be dissatisfied.
  • What work environment do you prefer? You can ask the candidate about everything from office layouts to company culture. You want to make sure the candidate will stay around so your client will remain happy.
  • What would your ideal boss be like? Some people like more direction and others like the management to be hands off. Find out what your candidate prefers, and compare it to the open position.
  • What are your compensation expectations? While it is early to discuss compensation, it might still be good to talk about. If a candidate’s compensation expectations are far off from what your client is willing to give, then it might not be worthwhile to send the candidate to your client.
  • Which job did you like the best? Why? The most important part of this question is the “why.” What the candidate liked about a previous job reveals what they might desire in a new job. Also, if the candidate names something like, “I liked the free coffee,” this might be a sign that they won’t find happiness in any job and will jump around.

After the interview

After you interview a candidate, you need to keep your notes so you can compare candidates against one another. Store your notes in your ATS for recruiters. Then, you can go back to your notes later and chose the best candidates to send on to your client.