Whether you are an interviewer or an interviewee, you know that there are going to be plenty of questions asked. You want to make sure you are prepared with the best interview questions so you can get an accurate read on whether or not the person will be a good fit for the job, or as an interviewee if the company is a place you would want to work. We’ll start with the best interview questions from the interviewer:
Best Interview Questions From An Interviewer
1. Why do you want to work here?
A simple question, but very telling. You want someone who has a legitimate reason to work for your company or in that specific job. Ideally they’ll have a passion that comes through in there answer. On the opposite side, you don’t want an answer that reeks of “I just need a job anywhere!”
2. How long would you expect to work for us if hired?
This is particularly effective if you are interviewing for a high turnover position. If someone has career aspirations they may see this job as an opportunity to advance within the company, which can be a real plus. If someone gives a wishy-washy answer, don’t count on them helping that turnover rate.
3. What behavior in a co-worker irritates you the most?
Deep down everyone has an answer to this question. A clever interviewee may try to avoid the question or provide a non-answer. A red flag may be someone who can’t stop listing things that annoy them about past co-workers. Perhaps the issue was them and not their fellow employee…
4. So (insert name), what’s your story?
A question pulled from a great Huffpo article on this topic. Richard Funess of Finn Partners went on to comment that he likes it because there isn’t a correct answer and it begs for creativity. The answers you receive will probably be all over the place, but will definitely tell you more about that person’s backstory.
5. What are you looking for in a job?
Another question that will help uncover what makes that person tick, or at least what motivates them. Is it someone just looking to go where they can make the most money? Or is there something about your company/industry/position that challenges and excites them? Ideally your candidate will have at least some of the latter as this will likely increase their longevity.
6. Would you describe yourself as successful?
You want someone that has confidence, but doesn’t move over into being cocky. This question will give you insight into how this person defines success for themselves. If they haven’t been successful in their own eyes, they’ll likely explain why which will also be telling for you to understand.
7. What do you dislike most about your current job?
This helps you learn more about the things that bother the interviewee. Is it personal issues with co-workers? The direction of the company? Not feeling valued? Etc. As an interview is a two-way street, this could also be focus items for you to talk about when discussing the good things about your company.
8. Describe your ideal position.
This is open ended and will get that person talking about where they see themselves and ultimately where they want to be. While the job you are filling doesn’t exactly have to be their dream job, you would hopefully find some similarities in the skill set required when compared to their “ideal position.” If their ideal job is completely opposite of what you are hiring for, this could be a bad sign. You should at least point that out in some way, to see how they respond. You want to set accurate expectations of the position they are interviewing for.
9. How would your co-workers describe you?
Self awareness is a good trait to have, so it will be interesting to find out how they see themselves through their co-workers eyes. Are they the go to guy or gal in the office when something needs to get done? Are they the guy everyone comes to when they need to be cheered up? Try to get a glimpse of the real role this person is playing in their current job and see how that will stack up with what you are looking for.
10. Describe a time when you did the right thing, even though it was difficult.
This may be a tough question to answer, so don’t expect the person to immediately go into a story. However, being able to show courage in the face of fear or other anxiety is a critical part of being a leader. Someone who has this as part of their nature will likely have demonstrated it before and hopefully be able to give you a good example. If not, perhaps they are one that backs away from confrontation.
Best Interview Questions From An Interviewee
Here are some great idea starters for the best interview questions to ask of your interviewer. The original post adopted from our earlier guide.
1. What are some examples of the things/projects I would be working on?
This is on of the greatest interview questions to ask because you are demonstrating a specific interest in the functions of the job. It also gives you an opportunity to use this to your advantage in the interview. For instance, if a specific function is that you’ll need to call schools to fundraise, then you may want to mention your experience raising funds for charity efforts you’ve been involved in. This helps you sell your experience in a more targeted way.
2. What is your favorite thing about working here?
This can be really telling, and gets the interviewer talking more about the company. You’ll learn what they value, and you’ll also be able to tell how difficult it is for them to come up with a decent answer. If they really love the company, they’ll probably list 2 or 3 things without any hesitation. If they say “the people” then that is probably a good sign about your future co-workers.
3. Can you tell me why this position is vacant?
This question is suggested on BYU’s HR Services page. It gets you more information about whether the last person was promoted inside the company, leaving the position vacant, or if the company has had trouble keeping someone in the job for another reason. Internal promotion would be a positive sign. It could also be a good thing if the last person simply wasn’t very good, as that means you don’t have a tough act to follow and would be valued even more for doing great work.
4. What would you say are the most important skills needed to succeed in this position?
Another great question because you find out more about exactly what they are looking for. Whatever the answer to this question, make a few mental notes and sprinkle in examples of how you possess these skills throughout the rest of the interview.
5. What do you think would be my biggest obstacle to being successful in this job?
This one of the best interview questions to ask near the end of the interview. At this point, the interviewer will have a strong sense of the things they like about you and what their concerns are. If they are honest, an interviewer will answer this question by telling you what their concerns are about you. They may say “I think your lack of management experience will make this job tough for you, as you will be leading a team of 10 people.” This is a golden opportunity to hear them out, and then make a pitch on why you think you are equipped to handle this. Ideally you would provide an example of your practical experience in this area. At the very least, you’ve found out the concerns of the interviewer and have had a fighting chance to rebut them.
6. Does the company offer opportunities for continued training and development?
This question demonstrates that you are thinking towards the longer term, and not just looking for a job to get by. Even if deep down you are just looking for a job to get by, plans can always change so it is nice to work somewhere that invests in the education of its employees. Maybe this job isn’t your ultimate goal, but you could get some free training to learn the skills needed for the position you hope to attain.
7. How much autonomy would I have in this job?
Nobody likes to be micromanaged, so you want to hear that you’ll have a fair amount of autonomy in the position. You want to be able to feel free to try things and be creative in the position. Hopefully this question will help you gauge how the company feels about this in reality.
8. Can you describe the ideal employee?
Suggested on the VT career page, this question will get the interviewer talking and describing who they have in mind for the position. You need to first be honest with yourself to see if it sounds like you. Maybe they go on about someone who is good with numbers, organized, etc. and you are a free spirit that hates math. It is better to know this now, so you don’t take a position where you won’t be able to excel. If the ideal employee does sound like you, make sure you find opportunities to hit on those points throughout the interview process.
9. How will my performance be measured, and by whom?
This will help you learn more about what is expected of you specifically, and how feedback is given. Maybe you have to give weekly reports to someone. Maybe your goals are harder to quantify, and there is no set reporting structure on your performance. Either way, this is another key in knowing whether you are a fit for the job. It also may be enlightening to learn about your direct manager. You may hear that Bill will be your manager and he has been here for 30 years… or you may hear that they are currently hiring for that manager position, etc. Either way, it should give you some feel of who you would be reporting to.
10. What are the next steps in the process and who should I follow-up with?
This is a good question for the very end of the interview. Word it however you’d like, but the goal is to find out when they expect to make a decision and how they plan to communicate with you. Generally you will want to send a follow-up email or letter to say thanks, so this also lets you know who the best person to follow-up with is. Sometimes you may meet with 2 or 3 people during the interview, so the answer may not be obvious.
Final thought on the best interview questions.
Remember that the job interview is really just a conversation, and something like a first date in a professional environment. It can be a little awkward, but you are both feeling each other out to see if this thing would work. On both sides you can always do well by being yourself and being engaged in the conversation.
Feel free to comment any interview questions you like below.