Targeted interview questions tell you about the person behind the CV. They should help reveal the candidates true personality, strengths, weaknesses, knowledge, skills and abilities.
You should always include questions that are specific to the position, however below are 11 suggestions that can be used across a variety of industries and position types.
1. From what you know so far of the role and our company, tell me how you feel you’d make a contribution.
This question will help you find out how much the candidate has prepared for the interview and how interested they really are. Candidates who are genuinely interested will take this opportunity to shine and demonstrate that they have done their homework. Ill prepared and possibly less interested candidates will stumble and try to put some generic response together.
2. If you could start your career over again, what would you do differently?
While no one likes to dwell on past regrets, this can be a good question to ask.
Asking a candidate to explain the major decisions they have made, highlighting the positive and negative, reveals the person’s ability to make calculated decisions based on past professional and personal experiences.
It also lets candidates share their vision for the future and their ambitions.
3. If I was to speak to your referee (last supervisor/manager) and ask which area of your work needs the most improvement, what will I learn?
The candidate will feel compelled to answer this one honestly as they know they are likely to get caught out at reference check stage. It is the same as asking ‘what is your biggest weakness,’ but phrased in an unexpected way.
4. Describe the best boss you have ever reported to.
Hopefully their answers will help paint a picture of their past relationships. It highlights the work types and personalities that they best fit in with. You should also be able to gain greater insights into the candidate’s communication skills, work style and potential cultural fit. Follow up with questions like “what made the relationship click.”
5. What type of management style do you prefer?
This can be as a follow up question to the one above. Do they prefer autonomy, handholding, or are they inspired by a mutual drive to achieve goals?
6. Tell me about what motivates you.
Ask question 6 & 7 in sequence to better understand the candidate’s motivations. If their answer to 6 reflects your company vision and culture, then you could have a winner.
7. What frustrates you?
Does the candidate answer by discussing minor irritations and nit picking situations – or ways that they will their work ethic and attitude fit in your work environment?
8. Tell me about the toughest work situation you ever been in.
This will give you an insight into how the person reacts to work pressures and their problem solving skills. Follow their answer through so that they explain their involvement and how they came to a positive outcome.
9. Tell me about your experience in a similar role to this one.
This is your opportunity to not only find out whether the candidate has the skills and experience you need, but to openly discuss your expectations of the role. Make sure you probe with further questions if the candidate is not clear about their past experience.
10. What would have to happen or not happen for you to realise you had made a mistake in taking this job if it was offered to you?
This will help you see what their expectations of the role and your company are.
11. Do you have any health issues we should be aware of where you need assistance to help you perform to your best?
Every applicant should be asked this question.