As an employer, you know that your main job in an interview is to ask questions, but do you know which questions to ask? Allow us to break down the eight most important/ creative interview questions to ask potential employees. Never end an interview without them.
1. Where do you want to be in five years? What do you want to be paid?
Yeah, you’ve probably asked (and been asked) this one several times throughout your career, but this question goes beyond a generic ambition check: it’s a measure of your candidate’s self-worth.
- Do they think they have the stuff to be in a position of authority?
- At the top of their field?
- As part of a progressive team?
Or do they say something vague and noncommittal like “Happy!” that prompts you to grip the sides of your chair to keep from giving them a shove? Their ambition and aggressiveness will be apparent in a good answer. And push them – ask “That’s all?” if the figure is too low. Ask how they plan to earn a large sum.
2. Why do you want to work for our company?
The first few words of your candidate’s answer to this question will make it apparent whether or not they cared enough to do their homework. An applicant who’s serious about working for you (and not just working in general) will be expecting this question and have an answer prepared. Keep an ear out for the savvy interviewee who takes this as an opportunity to advertise his value to you.
A good candidate won’t turn every question into an opportunity to brag, but working in a little subtle self-promotion here and there is the mark of a smart cookie.
3. What are you truly passionate about?
This is a good one for testing out the ol’ Load o’Bull Barometer. Anyone who answers this question with something blatantly and bizarrely job-related (“Accounts Receivable! Creating purchase orders! Drafting budgets! I just CAN’T GET ENOUGH!”) is putting you on.
This question presents an opportunity for the candidate to let her guard down and show some personality, so see if she’s confident enough to take the bait. You just might get a clue as to what motivates them to come to work each day – for some, it’s the work itself, and for others, it’s what the work enables them to do after hours.
4. Can you give me a fun, random bit of trivia about yourself?
The answer your candidate chooses for this question will give you a valuable glimpse at what it might be like to work with them day in and day out.
- Do they tell you about a hidden talent, hinting at untapped potential?
- Do they turn it into a chance to complain about something they don’t like?
- Do they let you know about their embarrassingly large collection of My Little Ponies?
Play it cool. I’m sure it’s nowhere near as impressive as yours. everyone loves My Little Ponies and you don’t want to intimidate them with your awesomeness.
5. Why did you leave (or why were you asked to leave) your last position?
FOREWARNING: this question makes everybody tense. You get tense asking it, you get tense answering it, and chances are you got a little tense just reading it. It’s a loaded question. And that’s why it works.
As the interviewer, you don’t want to come off as prying or digging for dirt, and as the interviewee, you don’t want to be judged for the reasons or past situations that led you to your current search (especially if those situations were less than ideal). It’s important to keep an open mind. A previously laid-off employee does not equal a bad employee, nor does it equal a fired employee.
If you hear anything that prompts a mental red flag, follow up with the candidate’s previous employer and get the (appropriate, HR-approved, legally OK) scoop.
6. What do you think your daily activities and challenges will be in this position?
Anyone can apply for a job and claim to be qualified, but only star candidates can back up qualifications with solid ideas about how they would actually function in the position. This question might catch your candidate off-guard, but a qualified individual should be able to come up with an answer on the spot if they truly understand your company and the job you’re offering.
Once again, it’ll be clear to you who’s done their homework and who hasn’t, and the candidate who gets flustered at this question (or just plain can’t answer) is not a good hire…nor is the candidate who takes the overly honest approach (“Well, I plan on showing up 45 minutes late each day and then messing around on Facebook until lunch…”).
7. What can you contribute to our culture?
People who just want to put in their eight hours and GET THE HELL OUT each day hate this question, because it insinuates that you’re looking for more than the minimum amount of effort. A good candidate is willing to bring something to the table other than a warm body for 40 hours per week. Simply put, the right applicant will be thrilled to join your team.
8. Do you have any questions for me?
THEY SHOULD, full stop. Even straight-outta-college interviewees know you come armed with at least a few questions when you interview, so a candidate who has zero questions for you should have zero chance at getting hired. Use the questions you’re asked to gauge where the candidate’s concerns lie. Does she ask a lot of questions about benefits and vacation time? Totally fine in a large, corporate setting, but a sign that he might not be right for start-up life.
Does she seem overly concerned with having to share an office or collaborate with others? Might mean that his inter-personal skills aren’t the greatest and have been a problem in the past. Does he just want to know if you can validate his parking and if your vending machine has Fritos? Time to end the interview.
Now Apply Some Creativity
Use these eight questions as a springboard to deeper discussions with your candidate, and you might just be sitting across from your company’s next great hire. Turn each “important example” into creative interview questions to ask potential employees whom you’d actually want to hire. Your company has a culture, rub it all over these templates to drastically improve your interviewing results.