6 important questions to ask candidates during an interview

One of the most important parts of your candidate experience is the interview stage — and that includes asking the right questions. Going beyond typical and expected questions to uncover more about who they are and what drives them is important to understanding if a candidate is the right person for the job, to your team, and your company culture.

Research from LinkedIn has found that 83% of talent say an unimpressive interview experience can change a candidate’s mind about a role or company they once liked. If you’re using old interview guides that haven’t been updated in years, now is the time to revisit your interview questions.

To help you out here, we’ve put together six important interview questions to add to your list.

1. What career accomplishment are you most proud of?

This question invites candidates to tell a story about what is important to them, their values, and what gets them energized about their work. Are there similar projects or aspects of their career accomplishment story that relate to the role you’re hiring for? If so, this is a chance to connect their story to opportunities for them in the role they’re interviewing for. Overall, enthusiasm goes a long way to have someone on your team who’s eager to learn and take on new challenges.

2. What interests you most about this role? 

This is an opportunity to learn more about the candidate’s motivations in the role, and also how much they’ve researched your company. Listen for connections about your company and their career aspirations to determine how they’ll contribute and grow in this role.

Hearing what drew candidates to apply for your open positions is important to note for your recruitment marketing efforts as well. Gather feedback on how quality candidates find your organization and what’s working in the job postings and marketing efforts around your employer brand.

3. Why are you the best person for this job?

This is a great opportunity for the candidate to spell out how their skills, knowledge, and experience make them a great addition to your team, fit for the role, and how they will be successful. We all know that most candidates don’t check every single box, but this question helps determine if they check some of the most important ones as this is an opportunity for the candidate to connect the dots for you and articulate how their skills and experience relate to how they will perform this job. 

4. Can you tell us about a challenging time when something in your work didn’t go according to plan? How did you address it?

As much as you can plan ahead, we know things can always come up and change. This question is getting at how candidates are adaptable and accountable. The important part that you’re looking for as the interviewer is their approach and if they avoid placing blame on others, and instead focus on what they learned.

This is also an opportunity to share with candidates how you approach failure at your organization. Many organizations say they’re “innovative” but what does that look like in practice? If that’s really a value at your organization, trying new things means failing is a part of that. After asking this question, you can also share an example from work at your organization where something didn’t go according to plan and how you approached it.

5. What is the most important thing that we should know about you?

We all know that interviews can be overwhelming, so it’s easy for candidates to forget all the great skills and experiences they’ve accumulated over the years. We like to ask this question at the end to give candidates one last shot at making a great impression.

6. What questions do you have for us?

This is an important one that you don’t want to forget to make space for! Make sure you leave time at the end of the interview to ask what questions the candidate has for you. This is an opportunity to see what research they’ve done ahead of time on your company, and what they’re most curious about in the role.

Take note of the questions the candidate asks you. Are they thoughtful and unique or are they common and generic? This can help you learn more about how the candidate thinks, as well as identify what’s important to them. And don’t forget to be mindful of time throughout the interview and ensure you’re leaving space for this at the end.

And don’t forget, while you’re evaluating a candidate during an interview, they’re also evaluating you based on the quality of their experience. Having good questions and sharing stories from your own company so the candidate may be able to picture themselves working for you is important.

Interviews are one important aspect of the candidate experience, but it’s not the only one. If you’re interested in learning more, check out our blog with seven common candidate experience mistakes, and how to fix them.

About ML6

ML6 is a recruitment and talent advisory firm located in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). We provide customized solutions to support our clients throughout the employee lifecycle. We help our clients attract and retain talent by advising on people programs, processes, and best practices.