7 Interview Questions Worth Asking Candidates

If you’re tired of every interview you conduct with a potential employee centering around mundane questions like what are your biggest strengths…and weaknesses…then perhaps it’s time to take a cue from some creative companies that are spicing up the interview process with inventive and insightful questions.


The interview can be an incredibly valuable time to gauge whether or not a potential employee is a good fit for your organization in so many ways from long-term staying power to corporate culture. Here are 7 interview questions you should consider asking:

  1. What are your expectations of this company and this job if you’re hired? This is a good question to gauge whether or not an employee really understand what a job and a company is all about. A candidate may have a glamorous idea of what his/her job will be that’s completely out of line with reality and by asking the question you give yourself the opportunity to determine whether or not that’s the case. You can also learn just how much a candidate knows about your organization in general.
  2. What do you find motivational? This can become a great two-layer question—the first level is about general motivation and a sense of inspiration and you can then move to the more specific—namely, what motivates this person to get up and come to a job every day. Maybe it’s money, maybe it’s the desire to have a purpose or make a difference—whatever it is, it’s a good idea to gauge what motivates a potential employee because this will give you a sense of how to best engage them and whether or not their personal concept of motivation is in line with what you can offer at your company.
  3. Tell me a little about your family and how you grew up? This is an important question that often goes overlooked because it can set the tone for the rest of the interview. You want the candidate to feel comfortable getting personal with you because you’re going to get a more candid interview, so start by breaking the ice by delving just a bit into the candidate’s personal life and history (be careful to remain professional, however).
  4. Describe your ideal work environment, or one where you feel you’d be most successful. This is a great question to determine if a candidate would be a good cultural fit with your company and it also lets you know the general work style an employee would have if hired. For example, if someone says they prefer working alone they’re probably not going to excel in an environment that’s all about collaboration.
  5. If you were hired, what would it take for you to leave this job? This is one of those questions that really only leaves room for an honest answer on the part of candidates. Don’t leave them the option of not leaving the company—phrase it so they would have to determine truly and honestly what they would leave the company for. It’s a strong glimpse into what motivates employees from a true perspective, versus what they think you might want to hear.
  6. Who do you find inspirational? This is a solid interview question and it can let you know more about the candidates personality, who they aspire to be and who they’d like to ideally emulate. If you get an answer like Kim Kardashian it could be problematic, but if they are inspired by someone who’s a leader, particularly within the industry of the job they’re applying for, it can be a good sign. It’s also a question that can help you get a glimpse of a person’s future goals in a clearer way than asking the old standard—where do you see yourself in five years?
  7. What type of relationship do you hope to have with your manager or supervisor? Some people prefer a straightforward business relationship with their superior at work, while others would rather have a mentor-mentee relationship. This can be telling as to how a person operates in the workplace and also whether or not they’re a good cultural fit for an organization.
November 17, 2014   Updated :March 23, 2015      

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