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The best interview questions to land the right hire

Published on: 24 Jan 2024

How to ask the right questions to drill down into the suitability of your shortlist.

Job interview

Interviewing prospective candidates is an important part of finding the right person for the job, but it can also be a nerve-racking experience for some. Adopting the wrong approach may put off candidates from working at a business altogether, so it’s important to make sure you’re asking the right questions and adopting the right manner.  

Ask open-ended questions which will enable people to talk about what they have done and portray themselves in the best possible way. A simple ‘Tell me about yourself’ would be a good way to start an interview. Ask for examples of times when they have used their initiative or overcome a difficult situation, perhaps at university or in a job. Allowing them to tell a story can help you gauge their character and will also help them relax.  

Skills search 

You’ll need to find out about their qualifications, achievements and experiences. These might include creating and implementing health and safety plans, performing risk assessments and carrying out inspections. Ask for specific examples so they can relay real-life experiences to you, and talk about what they have learned from these.  

In addition, ask about other transferable skills they may have. These could be communication, writing or training and managing others, and can help to identify if a person has the softer skills needed for the job.  

Another topic of discussion should be their career aspirations. Ask candidates why they want to work in the profession or industry, and for your company in particular. Try and determine where they see their career going; while many individuals won’t know where they would like to be in 10 years’ time, asking them which elements of their university course or current job they find most interesting might help provide an insight into a possible career route.  

A test of character 

Ask people about what makes them tick, especially if they have included some of their interests on their CV. Perhaps they have a particular hobby or sport they enjoy, which could again demonstrate an ability to work as part of a wider team or a commitment to a particular task. This will also give people the chance to talk about something they are passionate about, which can give you a sense of their wider character. You could also ask them how others would describe them, and how they would describe themselves.  

Where suitable, you may want to let people know the type of questions you will be asking in advance. This is a reasonable adjustment for neurodivergent individuals, but is also something that could be adopted more widely. It gives candidates the opportunity to think about how they can demonstrate their specific skills, and will ensure interviewers receive all relevant information to help them make a decision.  

Finally, remember to give people the opportunity to ask their own questions at the end of the interview. This will help them find out extra information about the company or role, and give them an idea of whether it’s somewhere they can see themselves working.