3 December 2020 |

Top 12 questions to ask during an interview and why

When it comes to job interviews, many companies still rely on traditional methods and a one-size-fits-all approach for interview questions. Despite the ongoing development whether at a technological level with artificial intelligence or at a social level with the rising importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, very few companies have made real changes or improved their recruitment strategy.

TALINKO is always on the lookout for new recruitment trends and analyzes the changing context of work as well as data to constantly improve the recruitment process and make the recruitment experience an enriching one for the recruiter and the candidate.


The importance of a candidate’s experience during an interview process

Nowadays, the hunt for talent is fierce so companies have to stand out if they want to recruit the best talents. One way to do that is to establish a competitive recruiting strategy and personalize your job interviews. In fact, 48% of applicants say the pre-employment experience affects how favourably they would respond to a job offer (Source) so hiring managers should take the recruitment process seriously.

A candidate’s experience is the set of impressions and feelings that they go through during the recruitment process. It is influenced by the potential employers’ reputation, HR marketing, interview process and more. As much as an interview is important to determine whether the candidate is suited for a position, it is also important to make a good impression. Here are some numbers from a study conducted by Talent Board that shows you why you should put the candidate’s experience at the heart of your recruitment strategy:


A positive candidate experience

  •       62% of applicants with positive experiences encourage others to apply to the company
  •       50% of them share their experience on their social media
  •       82% of them share their experience with their circle
  •       39% of these applicants use or buy the products/services of this company


A negative candidate experience:

  •       28% of applicants with negative candidate experience actively discourage others from applying
  •       65% of them share their experience with their circle
  •       32% of these applicants share their experience on their social media platforms
  •       31% of these candidates stop consuming the company’s products/services


The importance of interview questions

When it comes to job interviews, recruiters may think that preparation mostly concerns candidates but over the years this has proven to be false. A job interview is a two-way street, it is a dialogue where both parties must determine if they are a good match. So, for the interviewer, preparation is equally important.

This conversation is your opportunity to determine whether the candidate is a good fit for your job opening but importantly mostly for your team and company culture. The nuance of job interviewing goes beyond asking questions about skills and work experiences. It should also focus on assessing the applicant’s self-awareness and his/her cultural fit. This also gives the candidate a chance to express his/her concerns or opinions and make the process even smoother.

To assess all these aspects efficiently, interview questions must break away from traditional methods and adapt to the current work context and the level of the position (senior, junior, etc.). It is important to avoid asking questions that are discriminatory or unrelated to the candidate’s aptitudes and skills required for the job. This can include questions related to the health status of a candidate, their age or any other personal question. Otherwise, you face the risk of having to pay moral damages to the applicant.


Top 12 questions to ask in an interview and why

These questions will help you discover what you need to know about a candidate’s skills, job fit and cultural fit.


1. Tell me about yourself

This is a standard question that is likely to always be a part of the interview processes because it is a great conversation starter, and it can provide you with a lot of valuable information. This is an opportunity for the recruiter to get to know the candidate’s personality and attitude and maybe even learn something interesting that could differentiate him/her from other candidates.


2. What professional achievement are you most proud of?

This question allows the candidate to talk about his past work experiences without oversharing. Whether it is a certification, a prize, an award or a big goal that they achieved, this question will help the candidate feel comfortable and at ease but most importantly you’ll get to know what he/she really values and considers important. This will also demonstrate where the candidate’s greatest strengths lie and how they can add value to your workplace. This question makes it easy to transition into follow-up questions that will allow you to dive deeper into certain aspects.


3. What do you think is your greatest strength and why?

This is a standard question, but it helps determine how well a candidate is qualified for the position and what they consider the most important and relevant attribute in their skill set for this specific job. Additionally, you get to know how the candidate perceives this position and how they plan on succeeding in this role. Do not hesitate to ask the candidate for examples of when they were able to apply this skill in action.


4. If we would be asking your supervisor what would be the main aspect to improve in your work, what would he/she say?

The main purpose of asking this question is to see whether the candidate demonstrates self-awareness and emotional intelligence. It will also help you determine how the candidate manages to overcome and improve these weaknesses.


5. Can you tell me about a challenging situation and explain how you handled it?

This question is an effective way to gain more insight into the candidate’s work style and the way he/she manages difficult situations. It can also help you understand how a person’s experience translates from paper to the real world and see how a candidate moves through and tackles challenging circumstances.

Starting a new job is not an easy shift, and while the employee may face some roadblocks every now and then, as an interviewer, you must know how that person copes with challenges – whether it’s a conflict with another employee or a project he/she doesn’t know how to approach. This will help you get a clearer picture of their problem-solving skills.


6. Why would you consider leaving your current job?

This question may make the candidate cringe for the simple reason that nobody wants to seem like they are bad-mouthing a previous boss or employer. However, the candidate’s answer will give you a good insight into their professional history, values, goals and expectations for the future. It can also help you spot any red flags. You want to find out what motivated the candidate to go on a job hunt again, if their departure is to take their career to the next level or just seek a better opportunity…


7. What interests you the most about this position?

This question helps you assess the candidate’s level of motivation, which is important because when an applicant is truly excited about a role, they are most likely to do an excellent job and remain in your company for a long time. The answer to this question will show you if the candidate took the time to read the job description thoroughly, if he/she understands the day-to-day responsibilities of the job and if he/she researched the company.


8. Why would you consider yourself the best candidate for the position?

This is a good question to find out whether the candidate possesses all the required qualifications to fill the role or not. The candidate’s answer will tell you what they consider to be the core competencies in their skill set that will contribute to their professional development in this role. You will also learn how the applicant believes he/she can contribute to the job’s mission.


9. In three words, how would you describe your ideal work environment?

By asking this question, you are seeking to understand what the candidate considers to be the best-fit position in terms of cultural fit and see if it aligns with the company’s culture. It’s wise to ask what the candidate’s preferred work environment is to ensure that the candidate not only survives in your company but thrives in the culture you have fostered for many years. For example, you do not want to hire an independent employee when your team relies on collaboration or someone who prefers stability in a fast-paced booming startup.


10. How would you see the company culture be a good fit for you and why?

This helps you determine what the candidate considers the core values of the company are and if they are aligned with his/her values. You also get an understanding of how they view the company and how they can contribute to nurturing its corporate culture.


11. Where do you see yourself in five years?

This helps you determine your prospective employee’s goals and long-term career plans, and whether they match or not with the career path this opportunity has to offer. You want to know if the candidate will stick around or leave as soon as a better opportunity presents itself. Also, as an employer, you want to hire employees who believe constant improvement and continuous development are key factors to reach their professional goals while contributing to the achievement of the company’s objectives.


12. What are your salary expectations?

This question should be asked in the later stages of the interview process when you are trying to determine if the candidate’s salary expectations align with the budget established for this position. If you have found the perfect candidate, you can then try to negotiate the salary that will leave both parties satisfied.


Need help finding the best talents for your company?

Talinko specializes in the recruitment of senior executives and professionals in finance, accounting, and human resources. We can help you find the right candidates, whether it be for full-time or part-time positions. Our team understands the unique challenges of the Canadian labour market and will provide you with personalized service. We leverage technology to find candidates that match your corporate culture and professional needs.

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TALINKO Market for

What is the TALINKO Market? It’s a smart and innovative tool that allows you to identify the best available talents to contribute to the success of your business.

TALINKO Market for

What is the TALINKO Market? It’s a smart and innovative tool that allows you to identify the best available positions for promoting your career development.