25 strategic interview questions to ask candidates 

25 strategic interview questions to ask candidates
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The interview stage of recruitment is a crucial process that can help you identify talent. Asking the right questions promotes positive conversation, enables you to learn more about the candidate, and helps you determine whether they are a good match for your vacancy.

Select the top candidates to invite to an interview after assessing their abilities using skills tests like our Communication test and Business Judgment test. This method ensures they have the right expertise and personality traits for the role.

But how do you find the best interview questions? We have the perfect guide to improve your hiring process. 

In this article, we’ve provided 25 strategic interview questions to ask candidates. Let’s delve into the questions and how they can help you hire top talent.

Table of contents

1. Can you teach me something in five minutes? 

Given that 68% of people say their time has been wasted as a result of miscommunications in the workplace, it’s more important than ever to find applicants who are skilled communicators.

Candidates need strong communication skills to stand out during the hiring process. This question puts them on the spot and encourages them to think fast under pressure. 

Some candidates might teach you how to speed read or arrange your tie in unique ways. These types of questions provide an opportunity for them to act as a leader and display their prominent personality traits

What are the Big Five personality traits

2. What are your most outstanding achievements? 

You should gain a deeper understanding of your candidates’ proudest achievements to discover their hidden strengths and motives. Candidates can answer this question by describing projects they’ve enjoyed working on in the past. 

Your applicants may also mention specific skills that helped them achieve their targets and explain how their experience was important in such projects.

3. Describe a time you dealt with conflict in a job 

Questions about problem-solving skills are crucial for roles that are demanding and fast-paced because they help you determine how your candidates address challenging situations.

Research has found that 36% of employees report dealing with conflict often, very often, or all the time in the workplace. Therefore, you need to know how each candidate will respond to conflict, including team disagreements or unhappy clients. 

Do they use creativity to solve problems? How do they overcome obstacles that threaten their productivity? 

Consider giving candidates a Problem Solving test before the interview to understand their situational judgment. 

4. Are there any skills you want to learn? 

This question can produce a variety of answers from candidates. They might talk about their current skills and which ones they wish to develop. 

Other responses could unveil potential weaknesses, so checking how your candidates plan to develop their skills is important. Consider whether they read career-related books or complete courses to develop their skills. 

The value of skills decreases by half every four years, meaning you need to find candidates who are continuously learning and upgrading their knowledge. This question also enables you to determine how honest each candidate is during the interview. 

5. Give me some facts about our company 

Candidates who are committed to getting the role in your organization will do research before the interview. They might study your latest projects or developments within your team. This approach shows great initiative and dedication on their behalf. Those who don’t do their homework will make it obvious early in the interview. 

6. What role do you fill when working as a team on a project? 

Leadership competencies for candidates

This type of question focuses on the candidate’s personality and leadership traits. By asking this question, you can determine what skills they use most based on their preferred role in a team.

It’s also a crucial question for managerial roles. For example, you might be seeking a highly skilled product manager. However, the candidate favors customer service positions. This preference may be a problem if their goals don’t align with your company’s expectations. 

7. How do you learn new skills? 

You should ask this question if the role requires on-the-job learning. Candidates may need to learn new skills to succeed in your organization. Ask this question to learn more about their methods for developing or learning skills and whether they can take the initiative to learn new skills. 

8. Who inspires you the most? 

Asking more personal questions can help you become acquainted with candidates. With these types of questions, you can learn their motivations and how they use them to improve their skills. 

Candidates might have inspirations similar to those of your company’s team members or leaders, which may indicate an excellent value or culture add

9. How do you get back on track if you’re behind with deadlines? 

Time management skills for candidates

Time management skills are essential for demanding roles. Candidates should have a clear idea of how to manage tasks and meet deadlines. Those who provide specific examples of how they have used these skills probably have more experience with time management in a business.

It’s worth giving candidates a Time Management test to see how they manage workloads in a professional environment. This test presents candidates with typical workplace scenarios that assess how they plan and complete tasks. 

10. What are your long-term career goals? 

Finding candidates who have long-term goals is critical. These applicants have the motivation and dedication to improve their skills. 

You need a strong understanding of how each candidate will achieve specific goals in your company. If the candidate shares some of their goals, ask about the methods they will use to reach them in the long term. 

11. What are the pros and cons of your current job? 

This question can identify the candidate’s ability to spot problems. They should be able to pinpoint improvements for processes in their role and offer comprehensive solutions. A potential employee who can help improve the business will always have consistent motivation. 

12. How do you deal with pressure in a demanding role? 

Every job comes with pressure, but some can be more demanding than others. Candidates should always prepare themselves for pressure. Strict deadlines or physical tasks may require extra motivation and mental strength. 

Candidates who respond appropriately to this question most likely understand your expectations. Ask them for examples of how they manage pressure and prevent stress. Putting them on the spot in an interview is an excellent way of assessing their reaction to pressure. 

13. Tell me about your ideal work culture 

Work culture is created through professional relationships in the team. In a good company culture, employees’ unique personalities mesh well together. Honesty, transparency, and enjoyment can nurture and contribute to a strong culture – look for responses that mention positive values such as these. 

Instead of describing your company culture, let the candidate explain what environment they wish to work in. This approach can help you determine whether they fit your organization well. 

14. How do you take feedback from a manager on board? 

Receiving feedback is one of the best ways to achieve self-improvement. It’s also essential for your business: 89% of HR leaders believe regular peer feedback and check-ins benefit their organizations.

Candidates who take constructive criticism on board will be more likely to grow over time. In their response to this question, they might give examples of previous feedback and how they incorporated it to improve their performance or work ethic. 

Their answer shows how they overcome mistakes and resolve problems regarding their performance. 

15. What would you do if you were assigned to work on a project with someone you don’t get along with? 

Although no one wants to face conflict, it is sometimes a reality in the workplace. Candidates who have experience with this problem will have stronger problem-solving skills. You can judge their level of professionalism based on how they answer the question.

For example, if they choose to ignore the other team member, it proves that they can’t handle disputes well. 

16. Share something about yourself that you haven’t listed on your application 

A candidate’s resume might give you an idea about their work experience, skills, and knowledge, but it won’t tell you much about their personality and beliefs. This question enables candidates to step away from a career conversation and focus on who they are as a person. 

Even though interviews should be professional, they should also feel human. Get to know each candidate to see if they will get along with your team. 

17. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Candidates with a career plan are more prepared and determined. They can provide more details on their dream job and how they want to progress. Applicants’ level of determination and long-term career goals can indicate how long they might stay in your company. 

18. Can you tell me about your favorite past project?

Candidates who are passionate about their career path will show it through their answers to this question. Those who talk about something they love will quickly open up and share personal details about their accomplishments. 

Use this chance to engage with them and ask more questions about the project. Why did they enjoy it so much? Do they want to do something like that again? Asking this question gives a candidate’s personality and passion a chance to shine. 

19. You’re falling behind schedule, and a colleague asks for help. How do you respond? 

Learning about a candidate’s priorities can help you judge their character and how they respond to stressful situations. There isn’t a right answer to this question since it revolves around their time management skills. 

You could also give the candidate a Leadership & People Management test before the interview to see how they support others while focusing on their own tasks. This screening test is most suitable for candidates who plan on becoming leaders. 

20. What fictional character do you relate to the most?

This might seem like an odd question at first, but it’s great for turning the cogs in a candidate’s brain. They can be as creative as they want when answering. The fictional character they choose may display their prominent personality traits and the unique way they view themselves. 

21. What would you change about your career path if you could go back? 

Candidates who want to constantly improve can be great assets to your company. This question should show you how carefully the candidate has evaluated their current career path and how they wish to progress. 

Those who acknowledge the obstacles in their career are more willing to overcome them and prevent similar mistakes from happening again. For example, one candidate might want to change their level of qualifications. This response shows that they’ve reflected on what they could have done differently and how they want to better themselves.

22. Tell me about a time you didn’t reach your goals 

Setting goals can build determination, but it doesn’t always lead to the best outcome. Some candidates may share stories on how they didn’t accomplish what they wanted. They may mention missed deadlines or a failure to complete projects to the desired specifications. 

Asking this question will show how honest each candidate is during the interview. They should be completely transparent when discussing their business failures and non-accomplishments. Good answers may also show you how candidates tried to improve their skills to help them reach their goals.

23. What is your idea of the perfect manager? 

The idea of a perfect manager is different for everyone. However, candidates should have preferences on how they wish to be managed. If they don’t, it’s a good indication that they aren’t too bothered about getting the role. 

An ideal manager should lead teams, promote personal growth, and encourage all team members to achieve their full potential. 

An insightful candidate will know exactly how to answer this question. They should have a deep understanding of your company’s industry and how trends can change how you launch new projects. 

Candidates who know nothing about the industry haven’t done their research. If they give you examples, question them more about the trends and whether they had to study competitive markets in their current or most recent job. 

25. Do you have any questions for me? 

Saving this question until last enables the candidate to express their thoughts and become more acquainted with your company. It’s a way of judging their preparation skills and whether they thought of questions beforehand. 

At which stage of the hiring process should you use strategic interview questions?

The best time to interview applicants is after they complete skills assessments. You can source applicants and send them skills tests via screening platforms or a dedicated applicant tracking system. 

Once these assessments are complete, you can determine which candidates have the right skills and knowledge. All you need to do is arrange an interview with them to better understand their personality and experience. 

This approach is a better way of shortlisting candidates and finding one who perfectly matches your job description. It removes those who don’t have the relevant skills, work experience, and knowledge to succeed in the role. Make sure to choose suitable skills assessments that are applicable and challenging (in a good way).  

Discover our skills tests and strategic interview questions to ask candidates to hire the best talent 

Now that you’ve gathered some strategic interview questions, you can begin creating skills assessments using TestGorilla’s test library. Our comprehensive tests evaluate applicants’ skills and enable you to choose top talent to interview. Some great options include our Critical Thinking test and Business Ethics & Compliance test

You can move candidates who succeed in these tests to the interview stage. The interview is your chance to test their knowledge further and choose the most suitable person for the open position. 

Following these steps can help improve your overall hiring process. Our skills assessments and strategic interview questions are great for identifying high-quality talent. Sign up for free to start using them today.

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