Types of Interview Questions to ask your Candidates
Aug 17, 2015
Types of Interview Questions to ask your Candidates
Aug 17, 2015


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that Google likes to pose brain-teaser questions to candidates—like why manhole covers are round—your information is out of date.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.


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