Filling a vacant position isn’t easy. Talented employees are hard to come by, and when presented with a large pool of candidates, it’s hard to sort out the regular candidates from the most qualified ones. The most effective way to uncover top talent is learning how to ask them the right questions.

Interviews are obviously a great time to get to know someone before you extend an offer for employment, but if you are not asking the right questions you may get a misread and miss out on a great candidate. 

Whether you ask these on a questionnaire, in a phone interview, or during an in-person (or socially distanced video!) interview, knowing the right questions to ask your candidates can uncover top talent that will be great matches for your job and for your organization. 

So what kinds of questions should you be asking during interviews? 

Here are some examples of effective interview questions to ask potential candidates, and why you should be asking them: 

Tell me about a time you failed or overcame a challenge. 

Asking this question presents an opportunity for the job candidate to tell a story about a time they failed, how they navigated the aftermath of the failure, and what they learned from overcoming it. Having this question in your set of interview questions can help you determine if the person you are talking to is honest and open enough to admit they failed, explain the real-life situation, and talk through how they worked through it.

It’s not a question that has a right or wrong answer, it’s a question that can help you begin to understand the candidate and how they overcome obstacles – whether the outcome was favorable or not. 

It also serves as a way to test the honesty of the candidate. Everyone fails, and it’s not the failure itself that matters, but how they overcame the challenge and learned from it as well as how they are able to talk about it objectively to another person. 

Tell me about your process of getting work done.

This interview prompt encourages the candidate to open up about their preferred working style. While it’s important to note that everyone has a different working style and one working style isn’t better than another, knowing if their preferred working style will work in the role they are pursuing can help eliminate friction if you opt to hire this candidate. 

It’s not only a great way to get a glimpse into the candidates’ work ethic, but it also serves as a way to gauge if they would be a good culture fit too! If the culture is fast-paced, always changing, never the same day-to-day and the candidate expresses they work best when they know what is expected of them each and every day, it may not be the best fit for them or for you. 

This prompt can be a powerful indicator for their performance and overall success as an employee at your company.

What makes you qualified for this job?

Asking this question gives candidates a chance to highlight some of their work history. This one allows you to take their direct work history and compare it to other candidates to see which candidate has the best and most robust skill set for the job. 

Make sure to know who may have a good combination of schooling and skills/work experience. While work history can prove that a person is proficient in the jobs and skills required, schooling can also be looked at as a way a person has shown interest and commitment to learning. 

The question of “what makes you qualified for this job” specifically asks for experience that makes them most qualified for the job. If someone does have the technical skills and education for the job they are applying for, they will focus on experience that you care most about. 

By having them share these skills, you will easily be able to indicate how qualified they are for the position. 

If someone doesn’t have all of the necessary skills for the job, this is a way they can sell you on their current skills and how they can make up for not having all the skills they need (or how they will work on these skills to better themselves and be a bigger asset to a company). 

What professional achievement are you most proud of?

The answer to this question will tell you if the candidate takes pride in their work. It also allows the candidate to talk about their accomplishments so you can get a feel for what is most important to them and why. If they cite a very hard accreditation they achieved, they may value learning, knowledge and measurable goals. 

If their biggest accomplishment is getting promoted rapidly, they may have a hunger to outperform their peers and have a competitive streak. 

Professional achievement when it relates to increasing revenues or money saved for their last company means a real team player who understands their role in the bigger picture. 

You want to hire someone on your team that not only gets the job done, but is also passionate about the work they do and able to prove it with real life examples. 

What excites you most about this position?

Asking this question can test the candidate to see if they have researched your company. You want to hire someone that is genuinely interested in the position, and not just interviewing because they need a job and you just happened to be hiring. 

The candidate should be able to tell you what they like about the position you have open, why they are a good fit, and it’s even better if they can cite reasons why they are excited about being part of the company as well. 

Tell me about a time you worked in a group, what role did you take on? 

This question can tell you a lot about a candidate with respect to where they naturally fall when group work needs to be accomplished or they need to collaborate with a team. It can give you more insight into their preferred working style, whether they would be a good culture fit for your company, and if they could potentially transition into a leadership role in the future. It also serves as a great indicator of how they work in groups and how they interact with supervisors. 

While being a team player is always great, in any team and on any project you want someone leading the charge. A good leader is someone who you will want on your team! 

Describe the best supervisor you ever reported to.

Asking this allows you to explore if the candidate will work well with potential supervisors at your company. They’ll dive deeper into what leadership allows them to be most productive and will give you a better understanding if they will be a good culture fit. 

This can also let you in on what the candidate really values in a relationship with their superior. If they talk about how they felt that they could go to their supervisor with anything and that they would listen and rectify, they may value open and honest communication. If their best relationship was described as a supervisor that trusted them to make good decisions and only stepped in when necessary, the candidate may really value free and innovative thinking and the ability to test and try things. 

It’s a great question that can give you insight into a lot about a candidate. 

Do you have any questions?

Be sure to leave time for the job candidates to ask questions – the best candidates will have asked some as you questions as you talked but they will leave some of the bigger ones for last.  

The candidates most interested in the position will have questions prepared. Remember, they are interviewing you just as much as you are interviewing them. While job seekers are looking for new opportunities, it’s important that the person administering the interview be open and ready to sell the position and the company culture. 

Now you know what questions to ask in an interview to find the best talent. But how do you find quality candidates to interview for the position?

Finding top talent can be the most difficult part of the hiring process, especially with technical jobs. GTR Recruiting will put you in touch with top talent in your industry. 

With 18 years of experience in the industry, we help businesses big and small Build A Workforce That Works.