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55 candidate interview questions to ask your interviewees

Combine interviews with skills tests for optimal candidate assessment

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Are you a hiring manager looking to fill some open positions? If so, you likely have several interviews lined up and want to ask the right questions. Though you may already have questions specific to the available role prepared, it’s also important to ask more generic questions to get a better feel for the candidates.

We have compiled 55 top candidate interview questions for you to review so that you can find the right ones for your interview needs. These questions are based on various topics, each aimed at bringing out the most useful answers.

A great way of finding the right person for your open role is by giving them a relevant pre-employment test. Consider using these interview questions alongside our cognitive ability or situational judgment tests to find the best candidate.

Check out these 55 candidate interview questions to ask your applicants, and use them along with our recruitment tests to find the perfect applicant for your open position.

20 candidate interview questions you should always ask

You can ask many different questions in an interview depending on the type of role you’re hiring for. However, no matter what the open position is, you should always ask some general questions like the following.

  1. Can you tell me more about yourself?

  2. Can you walk me through your resume?

  3. How did you find out about this position?

  4. Why do you want to work at this company?

  5. Why do you want this job in particular?

  6. When did you first show an interest in a role like this?

  7. Explain some of our organization’s core values.

  8. What about your life are you proudest of?

  9. What do you think holds you back in life?

  10. What skill do you think helped you with your biggest achievement?

  11. Describe a time you disagreed with a decision at work.

  12. Why are you leaving your current job?

  13. Have you ever been fired?

  14. Why was there a gap in your employment?

  15. Can you explain why you changed career paths?

  16. What’s your current salary?

  17. When can you start?

  18. What do you like least about your current job?

  19. What are you looking for in this position?

  20. How do you stay organized?

5 critical candidate interview questions you should always ask and their answers

Asking your applicant these five general candidate interview questions can help you get to know them on a deeper level. You can also use the sample answers to these questions to assess your applicant’s motivations, goals, and employment history.

1. Can you tell me more about yourself?

This is one of the most natural and valuable questions to ask during an interview to determine if a person is suitable for a particular role. 

Candidates may focus heavily on their professional lives. Others will delve into themselves as a person outside work, telling you more about their home lives. Look for candidates who have unique characteristics, such as an interest in extracurricular activities like charity work and volunteering. 

2. Can you walk me through your resume?

If you’re using a resume-screening approach, you’ve likely reviewed the candidate’s resume before their interview. Their resume should provide you with a basic understanding of their work experience, primary skills, and education. 

However, sometimes it’s better to hear the candidate discuss this firsthand. This question enables you to go into more detail about their work history and learn more about anything you’re curious about.

You should look for candidates who can explain their skills in further detail, particularly how they used them in their previous roles.

It’s worth noting that resume evaluation is inefficient and highly prone to bias. To assess candidates’ skills quickly and objectively, you should instead give them pre-employment skills tests before conducting interviews. 

3. How did you find out about this position?

Given that 80% of all job searching is now done online, this is a great question since it can help you determine where to invest your energy when it comes to advertising positions on job posting platforms.

It’s also a great way to find out why the interviewee is leaving their current role. Asking this is a much smoother way to inquire about their motivation for leaving their current role and applying for this one. 

4. Why do you want to work at this company?

Aside from the financial incentives behind most individuals’ drive to apply for a certain job position, there may be other reasons why they want to work at your organization in particular. 

From the career progression that the role might offer to a simple aspect like the location of your office or workplace, there is a wide range of potential answers to this question.

Finding out what attracted them to this role is helpful for everyone in the room. Look for candidates who explain the research they conducted into the role.

Some candidates may refer to your company values and explain how they align with their own. Conducting research before an interview is a sign that your applicant is proactive and willing to get to know their potential employer.

5. Why do you want this job in particular?

Now that you’ve discovered why the candidate wants to work for your organization, discussing the job role is a natural next step. Finding out why they want to be in this role is vital. 

Perhaps you have other open roles that they may be suited to but didn’t apply for, and this question clears up why.

Candidates should explain how their skills and previous experience provide them with the knowledge and abilities needed to complete this role’s primary duties. The best answers to this question will explain how the applicant used the skills required for the role in a previous project or why the role fits their career plan. 

Stop guessing, start assessing with TestGorilla

TestGorilla can make your hiring process easier – all you need are our candidate assessments and the best interview questions in this guide.

Your candidate will need to fit seamlessly into your company culture. Ask them some of these 10 culture-related candidate interview questions to learn about their personality and understanding of the role. 

  1. What can you bring to the company?

  2. Why should we hire you?

  3. What is the best company culture dynamic?

  4. What are your strengths?

  5. What are your weaknesses?

  6. How important is a good relationship with your manager?

  7. What is your greatest professional achievement?

  8. If you could study another subject at a university level, what would it be?

  9. How do you provide yourself with a good work-life balance?

  10. Do you think having a positive working relationship with your colleagues is essential?

5 critical culture-related candidate interview questions

Asking general questions is a great way to gather knowledge about their personality and whether they will fit your company culture. To better understand your applicant, why not use these interview questions alongside TestGorilla’s personality and culture tests

1. Why should we hire you?

Asking this question can be a great way to learn more about what your candidate brings to the table. Though there is a good chance they will tell you what you already know, they may give some interesting reasons you hadn’t thought of.

Ideal answers will explain in detail the strengths the candidate offers and why they can be an asset to your business success.

Prioritize candidates who explain how their skills and knowledge of your market will enable you to maintain a competitive position. This knowledge indicates that the candidate has researched your product and services and understands your mission and competitors. 

2. What can you bring to the company?

Even though this is similar to the previous question, it’s still good to ask because applicants could give a response that isn’t related to the job role itself. There are a number of things a new person can bring to the organization and team – this question offers them a chance to tell you what. 

Focus on candidates who explain how they can benefit your business as an employee. They might refer to a special ability, product idea, or service niche. Perhaps they will offer a way for you to tackle a problem you’re facing.

Candidates who provide a specific strategy that can benefit their future employer are exemplary critical thinkers and may be efficient problem-solvers

3. What are your greatest strengths?

Asking about strengths and weaknesses during a job interview is so common that it’s borderline cliché. However, it’s still crucial and shouldn’t be dismissed.

Questioning a candidate on their strengths and weaknesses can reveal not only their assets and pitfalls but also other useful information. Do they emphasize skills that might not be useful in the role? Perhaps they diminish weaknesses that you think may be an issue. 

Candidates might explain how they showed these skills in their previous role in way that benefited their employer. Look out for candidates who explain how they wish to build on their strengths in their next role. The best candidates are motivated to continually develop no matter how confident they are.

4. What are your weaknesses?

Asking about strengths and weaknesses in two separate questions enables the interviewee to provide much more detail and gives you a chance to ask any follow-up questions that may come to mind.

Weaknesses aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but candidates should be committed to improving in those areas.

They need to be as confident when discussing their weaknesses as when discussing their strengths. Prioritize candidates who are open and honest about what holds them back. Better yet, listen out for a candidate who explains how they plan to improve on their weaknesses in the future. 

5. What is your greatest professional achievement?

Asking about applicants’ achievements can be a great way to get more detail about their backgrounds.

Emphasizing “professional” achievements can ensure that they describe an accomplishment in their career that could benefit them in their new role. Candidates might explain how they ensured their project was successful or what they learned from their experience.

Once they’ve spoken about their greatest professional achievement, you may also want to ask about an achievement outside of work that they are proud of. 

25 candidate interview questions about their personality and skills

Finding out more about a candidate’s personality is an important part of any interview. Ask them the following questions to understand them better on a personal level. 

  1. How do you manage your work and personal life?

  2. What are you passionate about?

  3. What motivates you?

  4. What are your pet peeves?

  5. How do you like to be managed?

  6. Do you consider yourself successful?

  7. Where do you see yourself in five years?

  8. How do you plan to achieve your career goals?

  9. What’s your dream job?

  10. What other businesses are you interviewing with?

  11. What makes you unique?

  12. What should I know that’s not on your resume?

  13. What would your first few months look like in this role?

  14. What are your salary expectations?

  15. What type of work environment do you like most?

  16. What’s your working style?

  17. What’s your management style?

  18. How would your boss or coworkers describe you?

  19. How do you deal with pressure and stressful situations?

  20. What do you like to do outside of work?

  21. Can you tell me about a challenge you’ve faced at work? How did your traits help you handle it?

  22. Are you planning to travel in the future?

  23. Can you tell me about a time you showed leadership skills?

  24. Can you tell me about a time you made a mistake?

  25. Can you tell me about a time you failed?

5 critical candidate interview questions about personality and skills and sample answers

5 critical candidate interview questions about personality and skills and sample answers

Though you want to make sure that the person you’re interviewing is right for the role professionally, getting to know more about them as a person is just as important. You need to know if they will be a good addition to your company and team moving forward.

1. How do you manage your work and personal life?

There has been much discussion about work-life balance over the past few years. This term refers to the way in which employees set boundaries between their work and personal lives. Doing so effectively can benefit them both personally and professionally. 

It’s vital for employees to handle their stress effectively: From 2021 to 2022, 30.8 million working days were lost in the UK because of work-related ill health.

Asking a candidate how they manage their work and personal life can give you an idea of how they approach achieving a work-life balance.

This is an excellent chance to discuss any policies your organization has in place to ensure that employees work happily. Discussing any relevant practices you may have, like flexible hours or extra time off, can make the interviewee feel at ease that they are applying for a role at a business that cares.

2. What are you passionate about?

Passions and work often overlap. Pursuing passion at work has been shown to increase work performance and engagement.

However, people also have passions outside of work. Knowing what your candidate is passionate about can help you learn more about them as a person and not just as an employee.

Their passions can range from travel or sports to music or art. Whatever their passions are, they will give you more insight into their personalities.

There are many benefits to pursuing passions outside of work, such as developing new skills and decreasing stress.

Furthermore, their passions might also be important to the role. For example, if you’re a travel company, it’s great to bring on more team members who are passionate about traveling and exploration.

3. What motivates you?

Although this may seem similar to the question about candidates’ passions, what motivates someone can be different. Some interviewees may be honest and answer that money is their biggest driver.

Other answers can include the following:

  • Their family

  • A comfortable life

  • Achievements at work

Employees whose motivations align with your organization will be more engaged. This leads to a host of benefits, including higher productivity and profitability and lower absenteeism and turnover.

No matter how they respond, it’s important to analyze their answer for any clue into how they will work within the business should you hire them.

4. What are your pet peeves?

Pet peeves refer to something, usually minor, that irritates someone on some level. This might not seem relevant during a job interview, but someone’s pet peeves can tell you about the factors that might affect their productivity. 

They may refer more to their pet peeves that are relevant to the office or workplace. In these cases, you can ask follow-up questions to learn if they can stay productive despite these factors and learn how they work as a team member.

5. How do you like to be managed?

This is both a practical and insightful question to ask. Answers will help you learn if your company’s management style matches your candidates’ preferences. In this case, it may be something you ask in a second interview or later on. 

Their answer can tell you more about their work history. If they talk about a time when they were managed closely and didn’t like it, and you know that everyone in your team works closely, they may not be the right person for the role.

When to use these candidate interview questions

These interview questions will help you get to know potential candidates better as you decide which one is right for the role.

Ideally, you should first give candidates prescreening tests, like a Critical Thinking test (preview below), to determine whom to invite to an interview. 

An example question from TestGorilla's Critical Thinking test

Once you’ve used pre-employment assessments to evaluate who has the most suitable skills, these candidate interview questions will help you make your final decision.

Find the right candidate for your company with TestGorilla

Filling your open position with the right person isn’t always straightforward. However, TestGorilla can make your hiring process easier – all you need are our recruitment assessments and the best interview questions, and you’re ready to go. 

You can use our platform to assess your candidates on several topics. Each of our tests is crafted by experts to pinpoint the best people for the job. Once you have all the data you need, you can make the most informed decision about your candidate and find the best person for the role.

Try a free 30-minute live demo today, and our team at TestGorilla will help you streamline your recruitment process.

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