Types of Interview Questions to ask your Candidates


Hiring the wrong person can prove to be detrimental to your organisation. Now, if you’re using one, your recruitment company will do their best to ensure the right people are in front of you to begin with, but at interview you will get a true feeling for whether this candidate is a good ‘fit’ for your business.

Well-known marketing blogger and Brand Director at Kareco Tim Tyrell-Smith conducted a survey concluding that, “interviewers’ number one concern is fit with the company’s culture.”

Similarly, technology information expert David Bradford reported on a past survey about “how people got their job” which found 56% obtained their job through a personal connection, proving that personal connections and team fit are very important factors in job placements.

So what is the best way to confirm these connections and team fits during an interview? It’s good news that the quirky, oddball, brain teaser type questions that often flummox candidates are going out of fashion. Laszlo Bock, Google’s HR chief said “if you’ve heard that Google likes to pose brain-teaser questions to candidates—like why manhole covers are round—your information is out of date. There’s no evidence that they suggest how people perform on the job.” Never the less, there is definitely a need to be creative in some respect in order to get the most out of your interview and your candidate.

We’ve highlighted some of the interview types you may come across.


These questions will include topics such as why candidates left their last role, work history and qualifications.

These are essential questions, some of which you may have basic answers to already from CVs or your recruitment agency. Gather as much of this information together before the interview and ask questions about anything you need to clarify. This way you don’t need to spend too much time on the basics.

Role Focussed

These questions will be focussed around abilities, strengths and weaknesses, technical skills and if necessary, leadership and management skills.

When asking role focused questions you may opt for open questions, allowing the candidate to speak broadly, such as “what are your strengths?” or you could be more specific and ask a question like “could you explain something complicated, but that you know well?”

Company Questions

Some organisations will choose to ask candidates what they already know about their company and how they feel they could add value.

Questions such as “why do you want to work here?” and “how would you fit into the team?” are often criticised because the reason the candidate is at the interview is to learn more and discover whether they are a good ‘fit’ for the team and business. An alternative could be to ask a more creative question such as “Can you pitch the company to me as if you wanted me to buy your product or service?”


Questions about the candidate’s personality, hobbies, interests and future goals.

“Tell me about yourself” can be a good opener to asking a few questions about the candidate’s non-work life, however it’s very vague. Questions like “where do you see your self in five years?” are popular but also perhaps a little dated. An alternative could be to ask “what’s the biggest decision you’ve had to make in the past year? Why was it so big?” This could be answered with a personal or work related answer and allows you to assess the candidate’s decision making skills.

Behavioural / Competency

These are the juicy questions that may take up a large section of the interview. They come in many forms, but essentially are “tell us about a time when…” type questions that really test a candidate’s ability to think on the spot and select relevant, quality examples of their work and experiences.

These questions can be specifically targeted around your organisation, its culture, goals and the role you’re recruiting for. For example “tell me about a time you set goals, and how did you achieve them?” or “tell me about the relationships you’ve had with the people you’ve worked with.”

The ‘Trap’

Some see these kinds of tricky/curveball questions as a way to test candidates on their ability to react under pressure and be creative with an answer.

As we mentioned, the fall in popularity for asking ‘trap’ questions is only a good thing for both candidates and employers! However, questions such as “what is your biggest weakness” remain popular and opinion is divided about whether or not these questions are useful. Tricky, but more relevant questions could include  “what’s your definition of hard work?” and “tell me about a time something didn’t go as planned.”

It can be challenging to evaluate someone in an interview alone, so spending time selecting and composing the most appropriate interview questions for your business and the role you’re recruiting for is worth the investment in time. Here at Langley James we’ll work with you to find the best possible candidates for your IT and HR roles. Contact one of our consultants today for more information.


Creating a Strategic Approach to Hiring


As we know, taking a longer amount of time to fill a job vacancy can have a negative effect on productivity and an organisation’s ability to reach goals. In order to ensure the hiring process is efficient and effective, a strategic approach to recruitment could be useful.

Research by Hired, the online marketplace for tech talent, found recently that 65% of UK tech companies foresee a negative impact on revenue due to their inability to hire the talent they need. Sophie Adelman who is Hired’s general manager said “the fact that the majority of companies are still sourcing candidates through referrals and job boards suggests that they might not be able to access, or have visibility on, the best talent for their teams. In order to thrive and compete within the global market, companies need to take a more strategic approach to hiring.”

“Instead of waiting for referrals and looking at job boards they can benefit from proactively accessing a focused and curated pool of technical talent that has been vetted for both quality and intent – this will significantly impact the efficiency of the hiring process and contribute to their overall competitiveness” she added.

 Marketing and Recruitment

One notion that is often discussed is the need for the recruiter to act more like a marketer in their approach to hiring. Targeting candidates with engaging and tailored content can convert a ‘passive candidate’ with an interest in the organisation into an ‘active candidate’ who will actually apply for a role.

Susan Vitale – Chief Marketing Officer at iCIMS explains that “Technology, such as a recruitment marketing automation tool, mobile-optimised career sites, and a social media presence, can streamline processes and provide you with pools of warm talent from which to source when your organisation is ready.”


Following on from this, consistency across the brand could be a key aspect to marketing your organisation and your roles to potential candidates. Consistency across your website, social media and during the interview process will help candidates to get a real understanding of the business.   According to a recent iCIMS study, “78% of job seekers agree that the look and feel of a company’s career site is moderately to highly important to their decision to apply for a job.”

The Steps to Creating a Recruitment Strategy

Nicola Hawkinson founder of SpineSearch – highlights six steps to creating a clear recruitment strategy and said, “you need to treat the hiring process as a key business practice — have a plan, make a timeline and reach your goal”. Her steps are:

  1. Identify the vacancy and need before beginning the search. Identify the reason for hiring, whether it is due to expansion, increasing customers, or replacement for an existing position.
  2. Create a search strategy. Consider search methods, a quota of candidates to interview before making a selection, a defined screening and interview process, criteria for selection and the selection team.
  3. Interview slowly. Build a steady stream of applicants and interview them in groups of three to five per day for back-to-back comparison.
  4. Keep candidates engaged throughout the selection process.Good candidates are likely considering multiple opportunities, so you do not want to lose them at any point during the process through a lack of communication.
  5. Don’t ignore red flags. Contact three to five references with a detailed questionnaire tailored specifically to the business or practice.
  6. Design a detailed on-boarding process to improve retention. Consider detailed introduction/enrolments and possibly a buddy for your new employee.

Keeping Up to Date

We have mentioned the increased usage of social media, however one recent article from the IT Portal suggests wearable should be the new inclusion in your recruitment strategy! They suggest that, “wearing Google Glass at an interview will allow you to record it and evaluate [the interview] back.” Or that the use of “bracelets or wristbands can be worn by your employees that monitor their heart rates. If one rises abnormally high you will be alerted to it and can tell that employee to take it easy.” We may be a little away from these techniques, but these concepts are real and available, and for the tech-savvy firm could be a seen as a real completive advantage!

Taking a proactive and strategic approach to hiring should hopefully lead to better long term hiring decisions that will have a positive effect on your business. A recruitment strategy will also help to ensure that all employees involved in the recruitment process are on the same page and take the same approach.

If you’d like to speak to someone about hiring IT professionals for your organisation, get in touch with one of our experienced consultants for advise and recruitment guidance.


SMEs Urged to Take Cyber Attacks Seriously

Despite the opinion of many, cyber attacks are a real threat to small and medium firms across Britain. A survey by security firm Kaspersky Lab found that many SMEs don’t believe they are at risk, with 59% thinking the information their business holds is of no interest to cyber criminals.

Last year over a third of SMEs were victim to a cyber attack, costing on average £75k – £311k. The government is urging companies to take cyber security more seriously.

Phishing, insecure passwords and IT vulnerabilities among top threats

Phishing schemes and fake emails that trick people into revealing their personal details are still around and are more sophisticated than ever. Insecure passwords are also a top risk, with employees using the same or similar passwords for multiple platforms, often without ever changing them or sharing them with colleagues.

Network vulnerabilities allowing in viruses or other malware, have affected 45% of small businesses in the UK according to the 2014 Information Security Breaches Survey. Web applications are also susceptible to various attacks including remote code execution, SQL injection, format string vulnerabilities, cross-site scripting (XSS) and username enumeration.

Involve staff, train and educate

It is vital that organisations have a strong understanding of the kind of cyber breaches that may affect them.  It is important to educate the business as a whole, so employees at all levels understand the potential risks. In many security breaches, there is some element of employee involvement, for example unauthorised access to data or systems.

Mentoring is often highlighted as an important step to educate staff, experienced IT professionals can offer invaluable advice and guidance about cyber security. Board members may also be keen to see the return on their investment into security, so involving them in training and reporting on improvements could be important.

Review, plan and be prepared

You often can’t move in today’s workplace for risk assessments, however completing one to review your cyber security is vital. It will allow you to plan and implement any changes to keep your business safe. As with any risk assessment, regular reviews are vital for keeping up to date and ahead of the game.

Prevention is better than a cure

Basic steps such as downloading software updates, using strong passwords, deleting suspicious emails and using antivirus software set you in good stead to prevent attacks. Other steps may include backing everything up so any lost data can be quickly restored. However it’s important to note that portable devices such as USBs and hard drives used to back up data, can themselves be a security risk.

Consider the actions of others. For example, clients and agencies may be a link into your organisation, and hackers can target human weakness as much as software vulnerability.

Smaller businesses can also be a link to larger organisations (they may be a supplier for example) so it might not be their data hackers are after, but rather a route to somewhere else. The UK economy is highly dependent on SMEs, however SMEs are also highly dependent on the internet and IT, which could potentially leave them at risk. There are many firms out there able to provide the security that SMEs need, and many SMEs that need extra security, but there often seems to be a gap between the two. Whether it’s a lack of communication or understanding or a feeling of complacency, businesses are legally responsible for the information they hold as well as having a moral responsibility to customers to protect their information.  Cyber attacks are a real threat to all businesses, but with simple steps smaller businesses can protect themselves and be prepared.



Closing the Workplace Gender Gap


Last month the government announced new steps they are pledging to take in order to close the workplace gender gap. With the new national living wage and legislation requiring companies with more than 250 employees to publish details of their pay gaps, the Prime Minister said “transparency, skills, representation, affordable childcare – these things can end the gender pay gap in a generation.”

In the UK, and consistently around the world, women still earn less than men. But what does this mean for organisations, workforces and for the nation’s 28.5 million women?

Equal opportunities

The debate remains that some women may opt for more of a work life balance to the detriment of their pay packet, and not all women strive to be board members. The ILO (UN’s International Labour Organization) found that “mothers were more likely to have career breaks, switch to part-time work, choose jobs that help to reconcile work and family – which are usually lower paying – and miss out on promotions”.

However opportunities should be equal in all situations. Flexible working rights, tax-free childcare schemes, new enterprise allowances and public awareness campaigns, such as International Woman’s Day, are all factors that are helping to close the gap in equality. However, the pay gap in the UK stands at 19.1% and is above the EU average of 16.4%.

Still, there are more women-led businesses currently in the UK than there ever has been as well as a record number of women in work, suggesting things are heading in the right direction. In April this year 285,000 working couples became eligible to share maternity/paternity leave – another step towards making opportunities equal.

The benefits of gender diversity to business

One of the most prominent figures representing women in IT, Dame Stephanie Shirley champions diversity in the workplace in all forms, not just gender. She has a mission to get a million people with Asperger’s syndrome into the IT industry by 2020 and has also tackled the subject of ageism. She advised: “women must recognise and grab the many opportunities the tech industry offers.”

Diversity in general is beneficial to the workforce and is said to help business growth. Pinky Lilani, founder and chair of a number of awards which attempt to recognise influential women and leaders says: “I think women are very collaborative and they do tend to love to work together. I think different dynamics come into place when people are working together – the results are much better. Women tend to think of solutions whereas men can sometimes be focussed on proving how great they are. It is a basic generalisation, but that is the kind of feedback I get from a lot of women.”

Increasing number of female entrepreneurs

This year, the number of female millionaires in the UK increased by a third. Many women who have previously worked for large corporations, but have moved on to have families and grown tired of the politics of the corporate world, have chosen to set up their own business. Flexibility, and the opportunity to pursue a passion may also be the driving factors encouraging women into business. However, a startupDNA survey found that women are half as likely to receive venture capital funding than men.

Is there more to be done?

Despite the government’s efforts, there is still no legal requirement for organisations to act on the gender gap data they are required to publish. It also doesn’t require businesses to carry out equal pay audits, looking at similar work done by men and women and aiming to close pay gaps.

There’s a complex web of cultural, economic and corporate factors that contribute to the current status quo of women in the workplace and it’s no doubt we are in a better position than we were 20 years ago, but there are still steps to be taken to create true diversity and equality in all UK workplaces.