Top Interview Questions to Ask Candidates: Strategic, Behavioral and Unique Queries

So, you've shortlisted your candidates and it's time to sit down and dive into the interview process. You want the cream of the crop, the best fit for your team. But how? By asking the right questions, of course. The "top interview questions to ask candidates". Sounds simple, right? Well, you'd be surprised at how strategic you need to be. In this blog, we'll explore some of the most effective interview questions to ask that will help you identify top talent.

1. Strategic Interview Questions: Top Picks

Strategic questions can give you a peek into the candidate's ability to plan, problem-solve, and align with your company's vision. These questions are the meat and potatoes of any interview, the base from which you build up a complete picture of your candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. Let's dive into some top picks:

Remember, the goal isn't just to get answers— it's about understanding the thought process behind them. These top interview questions to ask candidates will help you gauge their strategic thinking and problem-solving abilities, key traits for any role. So, go ahead and start strategizing your interviews!

2. Behavioral Interview Questions: What to Ask

Moving onto the next category, we have behavioral interview questions. These questions are all about past behavior because, as the saying goes, past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. So, if you want to know how a candidate will perform in certain situations, just ask about how they've handled similar situations in the past. Here are some of the top behavioral interview questions to ask candidates:

Behavioral questions like these can give you a glimpse into a candidate's past experiences and their potential future performance. They're a valuable part of the 'top interview questions to ask candidates' toolkit, shedding light on a candidate's soft skills, work ethic, and adaptability. Remember, interviews are a two-way street; while you're evaluating the candidate, they're also evaluating you and your company. So make these questions count!

3. Unique Interview Questions: Stand Out Queries

Shaking things up a bit, let’s venture into the realm of the unique—the questions that make your candidate pause and make your interview memorable. These queries serve a dual purpose: they not only add an element of surprise, but they also provide insight into the candidate's creativity and problem-solving abilities. Here are a few stand out queries that can be included in your list of top interview questions to ask candidates.

Asking these unique questions can add a layer of depth to your interview, making it more engaging for the candidate, and giving you additional insights into their thought processes. Remember, the key to discovering the top interview questions to ask candidates lies in balancing the conventional with the unconventional, the expected with the unexpected.

4. How to Evaluate Candidate Responses

After you've asked your top interview questions, the next challenge is deciphering the responses. Evaluating candidate responses may seem like decoding a complex puzzle, but it doesn't have to be. Here are a few steps you can take to assess the answers effectively:

Look for Specific Examples

When a candidate answers a question, be on the lookout for concrete examples. If they're talking about a time they led a team, do they share the details of the project, the number of people involved, the outcome, or any challenges they faced? Real-life examples indicate that the candidate has practical experience and isn't just tossing around buzzwords.

Assess Problem-Solving Skills

The way a candidate approaches a problem says a lot about their ability to handle work challenges. Did they analyze the issue, consider various solutions, and then act? Or did they simply react without much thought? If they're describing a past situation, did they learn anything from it that they applied later?

Observe Communication Style

A candidate’s communication style is crucial, especially in roles that involve teamwork or customer interaction. Are they clear and concise in their responses, or do they meander around the point? Good communication is often a strong indicator of a candidate's ability to fit with your team.

Consider Cultural Fit

Finally, remember that skills can be taught, but a cultural fit is harder to change. Does the candidate's attitude, values, and work style align with your company culture? This can often be the deciding factor when choosing between candidates with similar qualifications.

Evaluating responses to your top interview questions to ask candidates doesn't have to be a daunting task. Just remember—specific examples, problem-solving abilities, communication style, and cultural fit are your guiding stars in this process.

5. Mistakes to Avoid When Asking Interview Questions

Asking the right questions in an interview is an art. But sometimes, even the most experienced interviewers can stumble. Let's unveil some common pitfalls you should sidestep while asking your top interview questions to candidates:

Asking Leading Questions

Leading questions can skew a candidate's response as they suggest the answer you're looking for. For instance, asking "You're good at multitasking, aren't you?" could prompt candidates to agree, whether or not it's true. Instead, ask open-ended questions that allow candidates to share their experiences and skills freely.

Being Unprepared

Even if you've compiled a list of your top interview questions to ask candidates, you should also familiarize yourself with the candidate's resume and job application. Not doing your homework can make the interview seem disjointed and can miss the chance to delve deeper into a candidate's experiences.

Avoiding Difficult Questions

While it can be uncomfortable, don't shy away from asking tough questions. Checking on a candidate's weaknesses or asking about a gap in their employment history can provide crucial insights. Remember, the goal is to understand the candidate fully—not just their strengths.

Focusing Solely on Skills

Skills are important, but they aren't everything. Make sure to ask questions that give you a sense of the candidate's personality and work ethic. You're not just hiring a set of skills—you're hiring a person who'll be part of your team.

Steering clear of these common mistakes can make your top interview questions to ask candidates much more effective. Remember, interviewing is a two-way street—it's not just about assessing the candidate, but also about representing your company in the best light.

6. Tips for Asking Effective Interview Questions

Once you've dodged the common pitfalls, it's time to refine your interviewing skills. Here are some tips to make your top interview questions to ask candidates more impactful:

Keep it Relevant

It's tempting to ask intriguing questions you've seen on the internet, but remember to stay relevant to the job at hand. The more your questions relate to the position, the better insights you'll gain into the candidate's potential fit.

Listen More, Speak Less

This may sound obvious, but sometimes we get carried away and end up talking more than the candidate. An interview is your chance to learn about the candidate, so make sure you're doing more listening than speaking.

Be Consistent

While every candidate is unique, strive for consistency in the questions you ask. Comparing apples to oranges can make evaluating candidates a challenge. Your top interview questions to ask candidates should be standardized to ensure fairness and objectivity.

Ask for Examples

When asking about skills or experiences, ask candidates to provide specific examples from their past roles. This can give you a clearer picture of their capabilities and how they handle real-life situations.

Give Them Room to Ask

Remember, interviews are a two-way street. Allocate some time for candidates to ask their own questions. This can give you insights into their priorities and interests, and it also allows candidates to assess if the company is a good fit for them.

With these tips in mind, your top interview questions to ask candidates can become a powerful tool in your hiring process. Remember, the ultimate goal is to find the right fit—for the candidate and the company alike.

7. Follow-up Questions: Keeping the Conversation Going

Alright, you've nailed the initial batch of top interview questions to ask candidates. But what's next? The art of the follow-up question. These are not just any questions, but the ones that keep the conversation going, digging deeper into the candidate's skills and experiences. Here's how you do it:

Clarify and Confirm

After a candidate answers a question, don't hesitate to ask for more details. This isn't about challenging their response, but about making sure you fully understand their perspective. An example could be, "You mentioned leading a team through a challenging project. Could you elaborate more on the specific challenges you faced?"

Explore Their Thought Process

A candidate's thought process can reveal a lot about their problem-solving skills. Ask questions that require them to explain how they arrived at a specific decision or solution. For instance, "What factors did you consider when deciding to implement that strategy?"

Probe Their Interactions

Understanding how candidates interact with others is crucial. Follow-up questions can help uncover their team dynamics, leadership style, and conflict resolution skills. You might ask, "How did you handle disagreements within your team during the project?"

Uncover Future Aspirations

Lastly, tap into their future ambitions. Understanding a candidate's career goals can help you gauge if they're a long-term fit for your company. Try questions like, "Where do you see yourself in the next five years?"

Mastering the art of follow-up questions can turn your top interview questions to ask candidates from a standard procedure into a meaningful conversation. Remember, the goal is to understand the candidate better and foster a connection that allows both parties to learn from each other. That's what makes a successful interview!

Keep reading