In the long line of job applications, resumes, and potential candidates, the best way for recruiters to find the best fit for the position is through interviews. Interviews provide a great opportunity to get to know a candidate’s personality, work ethic, and gauge a strong idea of how they would fit with the role and business.

We reached out to our team of experienced recruiters and asked them to share some of their favourite questions when interviewing their candidates, as well as what insight they hope to gain from these questions.

A recruiter’s priority is not only to help businesses meet their staffing needs, but also to ensure that they find their candidates a suitable job match and will be happy in their position. In order to do this, recruiters must ask the right questions to get to know their candidates needs and expectations. Here are some examples of questions they ask:

Question 01: "What are you looking for in your next role?"

For Aoife, this is one of the first questions she asks her candidates. "This question gives me an understanding of what their motivators are and allows me to recommend companies that I believe will meet those motivators. We are all motivated differently in our careers, whether it’s by technology, salary, organisation type, etc."

Question 02: "What is something you'd be happy doing every single day for the rest of your career?"

Louise believes that whilst it is crucial to hire for skill, it is equally important to hire a candidate who is likely to be happy in the job they are recruiting for.

"A question like this will help uncover what makes a candidate happy at work, which is a great way to gauge whether they would enjoy their role and stay at your client’s company for a long time. For instance, if hiring for a software developer position, it is obviously important to ensure that a developer is genuinely passionate and excited about purely developing or coding, and is happy performing that function."

After gauging a candidate’s expectations, recruiters will need to ask questions that will help them understand their candidate’s skills and work ethic, and how they think. Here are some of their top questions:

Question 03: “In five minutes, could you explain something to me that is complicated but you know well?”

Dylan finds this question to be a great way to gauge of a candidate’s passion and charisma. "The “something” in this question doesn’t have to be work-related, it can be a hobby, a sports team - something technical, or anything, really. A candidate’s response will tell you how well they can comprehend complex subjects and how well they can articulate a complex subject to someone who doesn’t know much about it. Candidates who are passionate and knowledgeable about something and can convey that well are more likely to be enthusiastic and influential at work."

Question 04: "Where do you see yourself in five years?"

Iain uses this question to gauge a candidate's drive and expectations. "If asked this question, be honest and specific about your future goals, but consider this: a hiring manager wants to know a) if you've set realistic expectations for your career, b) if you have ambition, and c) if the position aligns with your goals and growth. Your best bet is to think realistically about where this position could take you and answer along those lines. And if the position isn’t necessarily a one-way ticket to your aspirations? It’s okay to say that you’re not quite sure what the future holds, but that you see this experience playing (or not playing) an important role in helping you make that decision."

Question 05: "Pitch [name of your company / client] to me as if I were buying your product or service."

For Dinh, this question demands on-your-feet thinking and shows your knowledge of the company.
"This is a succinct and more discerning approach to the generic "Have you properly researched the company you are interviewing for?" question. It forces candidates to process and digest the research and preparation they have done to prepare for the interview, and also craft a commanding message, on the spot. This will obviously come more naturally to some candidates than others, especially within the vast spectrum of IT. With this question, you are not necessarily gauging their delivery, but more so how each candidate thinks through, and gives, their answer."

Question 06: "Is it better to be perfect and late, or good and on time?"

For Ava, this question has a right and a wrong answer, with a motive to determine whether or not your priorities are aligned enough for many positions. She believes for herself and most companies the correct answer will be "good and on time."

"Let's face it, every blog post, email, book, video, etc. can always be tweaked and improved. At some point, you've just got to ship it. Most managers do not want someone who can't hit deadlines because they are paralysed by perfection. If you respond with "It depends," then you will be heard out -- the interview question itself is phrased in such a way that candidates can sense there is a right and wrong answer. But the interviewer often wants to determine that you value and respect an employer’s time and deadlines."

Shaun opens up about the process of his interview questioning. His questions focus around a candidate’s projects and experiences, and then asks questions to reveal the details and results of your work. "A lot of my “questioning” revolves around why we do what we do. I’ll start wide then funnel down so I’ll ask things like:

  • What were the intended outcomes?
  • What was the impact on the customer experience?
  • How did your project affect the customer experience?

Then poke around to find out what their part was so things like:

  • What was your role?
  • How did you impact the customers experience?
  • What would not have happened had you not been in the team?
What I’m looking for is a) their ability to understand commercials and b) a sense of their understanding around customers or commercial outcomes. The questions aren’t rigid and will change depending on the circumstances but they’re never a million miles away from this."

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