interview questions

How to prepare your interview questions - with 50+ examples!

Published on January 8th, 2023


Interviews are a key page of every recruiter’s handbook. In spite of the existence of various tests and qualification methods, interviews remain as one of the best ways to determine whether a candidate’s qualifications, skills, experience and personality are relevant for the company and role. It is also the preferred method for testing whether a student is the right cultural fit for the company. They can help recruiters make informed decisions and hire the best candidate for the job..

However, some recruiters overlook the importance of interviews due to a lack of understanding and rely solely on resumes and cover letters to make hiring decisions.

This should not be you!

In this blog post, we will discuss some vital question topics and their purpose, with examples for you to use in your next interview.

“Human resources are like natural resources; they’re often buried deep. You have to go looking for them; they’re not just lying around on the surface.” — Ken Robinson

Rapport Building Questions

These are interview questions that let us build a relationship with the candidate prior to their employment. This contributes towards building a positive candidate experience and increasing their motivation to work at the company, which makes it more likely that they would accept an offer letter. They let the candidate feel at ease, especially when interviews are notorious for inducing nervousness in interviewees. They can also reveal aspects of their beliefs and personality that can be relevant for the role in question.

Examples :

Tell me a bit about yourself. What is a book that you have been reading recently? What is your opinion on “Casual Fridays”? What would you rate yourself on a scale of 1-10? What is your objective in life? What are your hobbies? If you won the lottery and could effectively retire right then, what would you do?

Work History Questions

An applicant’s work history is a roadmap of their growth and provides a treasure trove of questions to ask them. It shows us their experience and development - or lack thereof - while telling us what positions they can take over at the company. It provides credibility to their skills and knowledge in a professional context.

A lack of experience should not be the sole justification for writing a candidate off as entry level jobs often have training periods which help new hires learn how to effectively use their skills and knowledge and educates them on the company’s work policies.

Examples :

What did you learn at X company within your employment period? Why did you choose to apply at X company? How did your employment come to an end at these companies? Describe a regular day of your work at company X. Did you receive promotions during your term of employment at any of these companies? What did you like the most about your last job?

Pay Rate Questions

A candidate’s pay rate tracks the monetary valuation of their skills, knowledge and services. They let us see how competitors are pricing skills and knowledge and any promotions the candidate received informs us of their growth. This is also where we clear any doubts regarding their expectations of raises and bonuses.

But before we proceed, it is absolutely crucial that we check whether the interview questions we choose to ask are within the regulations set for the labor laws of the candidate's state. 21 states in the US have made pay history questions illegal. Therefore consult with your legal team to ensure that no question attracts a lawsuit.

Examples :

What was your starting salary or hourly rate? What was your last salary or hourly rate? How much did you earn in bonuses and other forms of compensation such as incentives, promotions or tips? What are your expectations for the salary or hourly wages at this company? Do you expect to have an incentive program attached with your role?

Skills and Knowledge Questions

Assessing an applicant’s set of skills and knowledge is in most cases verifying information provided on their resume. However interviews can reveal the extent of their knowledge, determine the source of their knowledge and show hidden skills that the company can make use of. Determining these aspects of their skill set can provide them with credibility.

Open-ended questions let the candidate elaborate on parts of their knowledge that we wish to know more about, letting us ask follow up questions regarding hidden attributes and specific skills. On the other hand, close-ended questions let us quickly confirm whether a candidate possesses certain skills or qualities that are necessary for the role or job.

For industries that are highly technical, it can be recommended to defer the questioning to a specialist or employee, or have them present during the interview for assistance.

Examples :

How many years have you been doing X job or task? How did you develop your skills at your last job? Where did you learn X skill or tool? What is your secret to doing X job effectively? What coding languages can you work with? (for IT industries)

Cultural fit Questions

Assessing whether or not a candidate fits the company’s work culture is a necessary component of the interview process. Determining whether a candidate will be able to work effectively in the company’s work environment, communicate and coordinate with their peers, and contribute to the company’s growth are generally themes for questioning which are commonly chosen by many interviewers. Employees who fit the culture of the company have a higher chance to stay at their job and work with more motivation so justifying it is important for retaining new hires.

The interview questions to be asked will most definitely differ from organization to organization as every company has a different set of values, beliefs, goals and work environment. It lies upon the interviewer, who is tasked with meticulously analyzing the company, to determine what questions are appropriate for gauging whether the candidate can flourish if employed.

Examples :

What work environment do you thrive in? What part of working at your last job would you like to see during your employment here? What is your plan for the first month of work here? Do you think a person can / should be friends with their work colleagues? How good are you at dealing with authority figures? Have you worked as a part of a team before? Are you comfortable working with a team of people? How well do you work under stress? Describe an interpersonal conflict you had during your professional career

Behavioral questions

Under behavioral interview questions we have a couple of subgroups depending on the aspect of their behavior that we wish to assess. We are determining specific qualities or skills that are of a more personal nature and what their habits are when faced with a recurring situation. Given below are three qualities that are ubiquitous for most jobs and roles currently.

Creativity : Creativity is an advantageous attribute for any candidate to have. Jobs or roles that are geared towards or promote innovation are reliant upon their candidates being creative individuals who can come up with clever and original solutions for the company.

Examples :

How do you look for inspiration / motivation when coming up with something new? Is there anything you would have liked to change at your old job? Would you say you are a thinker or a do-er? If there’s a new product that our company has put out, how would you start marketing it?

Communication : Communication is paramount for any work that involves teams or interacting with other human beings. Effective communication makes sharing information, coordination and collaboration successful in a work environment. It also contributes to positive experiences for new customers,recurring clients and employees. Interview questions for gauging a candidate’s communication should not solely rely on their verbal and oratory skills but should also include the capability to communicate through a written medium.

Examples :

How would you overcome communication challenges with foreign clients? Have you experienced any issues communicating progress reports to supervisors? How would you break bad news to a colleague or team? Are you capable of drafting notices or memos when needed? Do you have experience typing professional correspondence? Have you ever had a work colleague who you struggled to communicate with? If so, did it become a problem during work and how did you resolve it?

Decision making : Decision making is a critical part of most day-to-today activities. Good decision making skills show that a candidate is quick on their feet, can evaluate any situation, take a note of the available options and tools, and come up with a solution and list of priorities. By gauging how the candidate comes to a decision we can qualify how their thinking can benefit the organization.

Examples :

When do you think is the right time to ask for external help on a difficult task? Recount an occasion on which you were forced to make a tough decision. How did you resolve it in the end? How did you choose the industry you currently work in? Do you come to a decision by yourself or do you consult others before coming to a conclusion? Would you choose to work a job that lets you grow tremendously but doesn't pay much or work at an office that gives you a comfortable salary but doesn't show much potential for professional development? Have you made any decisions you wish you could have changed in hindsight? If yes, then how so?

Situational questions

In this line of interview questioning we are providing the candidate with work specific cases and assessing them based on how they react or deal with the conundrum presented within.

This can be done in the form of hypotheticals or through situations they experienced in their previous places of employment. The latter is often asked as a follow up question after they describe experiences during their careers.

Interview questions such as these provide us with an idea of how they would handle similar situations and whether they are ready for unfavorable circumstances while working at the company. Therefore managerial positions, customer service and sales can greatly benefit from these types of questions

Examples :

A member of your team has just informed you that due to a personal emergency they will not be able to participate in the presentation you are to give that day. How do you let the rest of the team know and how do you deal with the lack of a member? Have you ever been tasked with a project you lacked any prior experience in? Have you ever had to deal with an angry customer or team member at work? If so, how? If you discovered that a colleague was avoiding company regulations or ignoring company policies, what would you do? What do you do if your supervisor tries to throw you under the bus for one of their mistakes? Describe a stressful incident that happened at your last job. How did you deal with it?

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