The Four Kinds of Inquiries to Ask Candidates in a Job Interview

By Nissar Ahamed

A company is only as strong as its employees. That’s why it’s important to find and hire the right people. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 74% of employers say they hired the wrong person for a job. And the negative effects of these bad attitudes? Of the 2,257 HR managers surveyed, 37% said they were less productive and 31% said that their quality of work was impaired.

In another report from the Center for American Progress, replacing an individual employee costs about 16% to 213% of their annual salary. Given the costly implications of being in the wrong position, it is extremely important that you have an effective recruiting system in place.

Reviewing resumes and selecting candidates based on educational degrees, professional qualifications, experience and skills is just the beginning of the process. The interview is equally, if not more important, to assess applicants’ potential success in the workplace.

However, an interview is not as easy as it seems because you have a lot of information to gather in limited time.

Below are the four types of questions candidates must ask in an interview so that you can get a clearer picture of their skills and experience and ensure that you are hiring the right candidate for your team.

1. Questions about experiences and references

In any standard interview, this type of question is important to gather basic information about candidates, such as: B. Your personal data, skills and professional background. These questions require simple, informative answers and form the basis for more complex questions later in the interview.

However, it is important to note that if a candidate asks too many of these questions in a row, they will feel like they are being interrogated. You can reassure a candidate by having a chat, asking relevant questions whenever possible, and reconnecting your questions to the job criteria.

Examples of questions about experiences and references in the interview are:

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

2. Questions about behavioral interviews

While the first type of interview question ends tightly and provides basic factual information, behavioral questions are open-ended and somewhat more complicated as they aim to objectively assess the candidate’s competencies and any soft skills or behaviors required for the position in order to predict future results.

These interview questions will give you a more detailed insight into an applicant’s attitude towards work and how they work. Questions like these require that the candidate report on past experiences and should be interspersed with tight interview questions.

Examples of competence and behavioral questions are:

  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • What was the biggest challenge for you and how did you deal with it?
  • What steps do you follow to get the best results?
  • How do you deal with multiple deadlines?
  • What precautionary measures do you take to avoid mistakes and problems?
  • Can you describe a time when you dealt with misunderstandings or conflicts at work?
  • How do you deal with burnout?
  • How would you describe your work style?
  • Can you describe your leadership style?

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3. Interview questions that contain hypothetical scenarios

Hypothetical interview questions give a candidate the opportunity to show how well he or she can deal with an imaginary situation in the workplace or analyze a particular situation and react to it. Similar to competence and behavioral questions, these questions also show how the candidate works or how he approaches difficult scenarios. The difference, however, is that behavioral questions include actual past experiences, while hypothetical scenario questions examine possible courses of action and demonstrate problem-solving skills for different cases.

Examples of hypothetical interview questions are:

  • If you were given a budget of $ 100,000 on marketing, how would you spend it? What areas would you focus on?
  • Let’s say one of your employees is below average. What steps would you take to make things better?
  • If you were to lead the team, what would the first thing you do to improve results?
  • Let’s say the project you developed did not meet the client’s expectations. How would you react to the situation?
  • What steps would you take if you wanted to improve employee morale and productivity across the company?
  • If you could choose someone in your industry to be your mentor, who would you choose and why?
  • Imagine our industry in five years. How should we prepare to stay competitive?
  • If you were the hiring manager for this role, what skills would you look for in a candidate?

4. Interview questions that are out of scope

Outside-the-box questions are a far cry from your traditional interview questions – they even seem strange at first glance. However, these non-conventional questions are a good test of the candidate’s creative thinking and can also help determine whether the person is a good fit with the corporate culture and work environment. In addition, they give you insight into the applicant’s thought process and can reveal a lot about the person.

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

  • If you could have superpower, what would it be and how would you use it for this job?
  • How would you explain to an eight year old what our company does?
  • Which fictional character do you identify with?
  • If your professional life is one type of music, what genre would it be?
  • How would you explain our innovative products to someone who has been stranded on a remote island for years?
  • If you could choose to be reborn into someone you admire, who would it be and why?
  • If you could travel back in time, what would you change about your career?

When you ask the right questions in an interview, you can better assess whether a candidate is a fit for both a skill and a culture. Your answers and the way they respond will tell you so much more than your resume tells you.

RELATED: Questions Employers Should Never Ask During An Interview

About the author

Contribution by: Nissar Ahamed

Nissar Ahamed is the Chief Content Officer at, a publication that helps job seekers and freelancers with actionable advice and resources. He is also the producer and host of the Career Insider Podcast.

Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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