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The 4 Types of Questions to Ask Candidates in a Job Interview

man in a job interview

By Nissar Ahamed

A business is only as strong as its people, which is why it’s crucial to find and hire the right employees. However, according to a CareerBuilder survey, 74% of employers say they’ve hired the wrong person for a job. And the negative impact of those bad hires? Out of the 2,257 hiring managers polled, 37% cited less productivity and 31% indicated compromised quality of work.

In another report by the Center for American Progress, replacing a single employee costs around 16% to 213% of their annual salary. Given the costly implications of putting the wrong person in a position, it is extremely important to ensure that you have an effective recruitment system in place.

Reviewing CVs and short-listing candidates based on educational attainment, professional qualifications, experience, and skill sets only represents the beginning of the process. The job interview is equally, if not more, important in assessing the potential on-the-job success of candidates.

However, a job interview is not as simple as it seems, because there is a lot of information you have to gather in a limited amount of time.

The following are the four types of questions to ask candidates in a job interview so you can get a clearer picture of their skills and experience, ensuring you hire the right candidate for your team.

1. Experience and credentials interview questions

In any standard job interview, this type of question is essential for gathering basic information about candidates, such as their personal details, skill sets, and professional background. These questions call for straightforward, informational answers and set the stage for more complex questions later on in the interview.

However, it is important to note that asking too many of these questions in succession can make an applicant feel like they’re being interrogated. You can put a candidate at ease by being conversational—asking relevant follow-up questions whenever possible and relating your questions back to the job criteria.

Examples of experience and credentials interview questions include:

  • How long did you work for your last employer?
  • What were your responsibilities in your most recent position?
  • How many years of experience do you have in this industry?
  • What tools and applications are you familiar with?
  • What training or short courses have you taken that are related to the position you’re applying for?
  • What skills required for this job do you think you’re strongest at?
  • What industries have you worked in?
  • What’s the longest time you’ve worked for one company?

2. Behavioral interview questions

While the first type of interview questions is close-ended and elicits basic, factual information, behavioral questions are open-ended and slightly more complicated as they aim to objectively gauge the applicant’s competencies required for the position, as well as any soft skills or behaviors in order to predict future results.

These interview questions will give you a closer look at a candidate’s attitude towards work and their manner of working. Questions such as these require the candidate to recount past experiences and should be interspersed with close-ended interview questions.

Examples of competency and behavioral questions include:

  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • What is the greatest challenge you’ve faced and how did you deal with it?
  • What are the steps you follow to ensure you deliver the best results?
  • How do you deal with multiple deadlines?
  • What are the precautionary measures you do to avoid errors and issues?
  • Can you describe a time you dealt with misunderstandings or conflict at work?
  • How do you cope with burnout?
  • How would you describe your work style?
  • Can you describe your leadership style?

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3. Interview questions that involve hypothetical scenarios

Hypothetical interview questions give a candidate the opportunity to show how well he or she can handle an imaginary on-the-job situation or analyze and react to a particular situation. Similar to competency and behavioral questions, these questions also reveal the way the candidate works or approaches difficult scenarios. However, the difference is that behavioral questions involve past experiences which actually occurred, while hypothetical scenario questions explore possible courses of action and demonstrate problem-solving abilities for different cases.

Examples of hypothetical interview questions include:

  • If you were given a $100,000 budget for marketing, how would spend it? Which areas would you focus on?
  • Let’s say one of your staff is underperforming, what steps would you take to improve things?
  • If you were to lead the team, what’s the first thing you’d do to improve results?
  • Let’s say the project you developed didn’t meet the client’s expectations, how would you respond to the situation?
  • If you are tasked to improve employee morale and productivity across the company, what steps would you take?
  • If you could choose anyone in your industry to be your mentor, who would you choose, and why?
  • Imagine our industry five years from now. How should we prepare to stay competitive?
  • If you were the hiring manager for this role, what skill sets would you look for in a candidate?

4. Interview questions that are outside-the-box

Outside-the-box questions are far from your traditional interview questions—they may even seem weird at first. However, these non-conventional questions are a good test for the candidate’s creative thinking and may also help determine if the person would be a good fit for the company culture and work environment. Furthermore, they will give you insights on the applicant’s thought process and can reveal a lot about the person.

Here are some examples of curveball questions that you can ask in an interview to know more about the person:

  • If you could have any superpower, what would it be and how would you use it for this job?
  • How would you explain what our company does to an eight-year-old?
  • Which fictional character do you identify with?
  • If your professional life is a kind of music, what genre would it be?
  • How would you explain our innovative products to someone who’s been stranded on a remote island for years?
  • If you could choose to be reincarnated into any person you admire, who would it be and why?
  • If you could travel through time, what’s the one thing related to your career would you change?

Asking the right questions in a job interview will help you to better assess whether a candidate is both a skill fit and a culture fit. Their answers and the way they respond will tell you so much more than what their CV reveals.

RELATED: Questions Employers Should Never Ask During a Job Interview

About the Author

Post by: Nissar Ahamed

Nissar Ahamed is the Chief Content Officer at CareerMetis.com, a publication dedicated to helping job seekers and freelancers with actionable advice and res. He is also the producer and host of The Career Insider Podcast.

Company: CareerMetis.com
Website: www.careermetis.com
Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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