The hiring process has its fair share of complexities, but the job interview is one of the biggest mysteries for many hiring managers. What questions should you ask? How many questions are too many? What subjects should you cover? What are the important things to know about a job candidate before bringing them into your company? If you’re asking yourself questions like this, you’re not alone. To help you, and the thousands of hiring managers like you out, we’ve created a massive list of the best job interview questions to ask to job candidates.
This list is broken into sections about important topics we think you should cover during an interview. You’ll see things like get-to-know-you questions, questions about leadership and management styles, questions about pressure and stress, and questions about education. We cover it all!
Just remember, don’t be the guy or gal that asks all 116 questions to your interviewee! That’d just be rude.
Before going into an interview, carefully consult our list and choose a question or two from each section that you think would be most relevant to the job you’re hiring for. Customize your question set for each particular job. And if you don’t get to all your questions in a single interview, that’s fine too! Feel free to schedule a second interview with your candidates so you can spend more time with them and ask more questions.
Without further ado, here’s the list of questions. Good luck!
Basic get-to-know-you questions
Before diving deep into an interview with a job candidate, you’ll want to set the stage with some basic get-to-know-you questions. These types of questions are fairly predictable and will help the candidate feel comfortable as they settle into the interview. While they should be simple to answer, they can reveal a lot about the candidate.
- Tell me about yourself?
- What do you consider your greatest professional strengths and weaknesses?
- Why do you want this particular job?
- Why are you leaving your current job?
- Why do you want to work for this company?
- Why should we hire you over other candidates applying for this job?
- What points on your resume do you consider to be the strongest?
Career interests questions
These questions are designed to help you learn more about the job candidate’s career aspirations. You’ll begin to understand their reasons for searching for a new job, what they hope to achieve in the near and long-term, and what skills they want to develop as they continue to climb the proverbial ladder.
- What motivated you to look for a new job?
- What attracted you to this profession?
- What are you looking for in your next job?
- Where would you like to be in your career five years from now?
- What is your dream job?
- What skills do you need to develop in order to reasonably qualify for your dream job?
- How do you wish to improve yourself in the next year?
- What new skills are you hoping to learn in your next job?
- What goals would you pursue if you got this job?
- If I were to ask your previous manager what additional training you need, what do you think they’d suggest?
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Customer service questions
Not every job is customer facing; however, it’s important to understand how your job candidates value customers, and more generally, how they value and treat other people. Almost every candidate will have an example from a previous job or experience where they had to take care of a customer. Dive into these experiences to better understand a candidate’s ability to work with people, handle difficult situations, and resolve conflict.
- Give me an example of a time when you gave exceptional service to a customer.
- Think about the best customer service experience you’ve ever received. What made that experience positive? How could you make that service happen here for our customers?
- Explain how you would handle an angry customer with a difficult problem
- Describe for me the most challenging customer service problem you encountered in a prior job.
- Tell me about a time when a customer asked a question that you didn’t know the answer to.
- What does good customer service mean to you?
- Give me an example of a time you couldn’t solve a customer’s problem.
- Tell me about a time when you turned an unhappy customer into a delighted customer.
Determination and resilience questions
It’s important to understand how a potential employee handles failure. Unfortunately, you’ll never hire a candidate that does everything perfectly, and like all human beings, they are bound to experience a few failures while working for your company. Great employees show resilience and can bounce back from failure quickly. They see failures as opportunities to learn, and they rarely make the same mistakes twice. Asking a few questions about a job candidate’s failures will help you determine if a candidate is humble enough to admit to their mistakes, and also shine a light on their ability to bounce back from mistakes.
- Tell me about a time when you really messed up at work and what you learned from the experience.
- Tell me about two memorable projects, one success and one failure. To what do you attribute the success and failure?
- Tell me about a time you felt like giving up at work. What did you do?
- How would you handle undeserved criticism from a superior?
Education questions should mostly be reserved for candidates who have little work experience or who are just graduating from school. We find that it does little good to bring up past education when a candidate has years of established job history.
We also believe that open-ended questions about education are far more revealing and predictive then many of the commonly asked questions such as, “Where did you go to school?” or “What was your GPA?” or “Did you finish in the top 10% of your class?”
Every candidate’s education experience will be different, and it’s important to give each candidate a voice and allow them to express themselves. Some candidates may have lower GPAs because they worked two or three jobs while in school to stay afloat. Other candidates will have majored in something that has nothing to do with their current career path. Give every candidate room to open up and explain their unique situation.
- What’s the most important thing you learned in school?
- Tell me about a group project you worked on in one of your classes. Was it a success? What was your role within the group?
- Why did you choose your major?
- What was the most interesting class you took in school?
- Do you believe your college GPA is an accurate reflection of the type of employee you’ll be for this company? Why or why not?
- What do you consider your greatest accomplishment while in school?
Flexibility and adaptability questions
Work is often unpredictable, and it can be important to hire employees who can quickly adapt to changing situations. If an employee is not willing or capable to operate under uncertain circumstances, they might not be a good fit for your business. It can be helpful to ask a question or two about an employee’s flexibility and how they’ve previously reacted to shifting expectations or situations without clear direction.
- Tell me about a work or personal experience that shows flexibility on your part.
- Tell me about a time when you had to make an important decision quickly.
- Have you ever had to make a difficult decision when there wasn’t a policy to cover it? Tell me about it.
- How would you respond to a supervisor’s request to complete an assignment outside your normal work duties?
- How do you adjust to changes in the workplace that you disagree with?
Honesty and integrity questions
One thing that employers will not tolerate is an employee who is dishonest. Trust is so critical to organizations of all sizes. Be direct with job candidates and ask them if you can trust them. Have them share examples or experiences of when they’ve done “the right thing” in the past. Ask them questions about ethical situations that they may face while on the job.
- If you saw a coworker doing something dishonest, would you tell your boss? What would you do about it?
- Discuss a time when your integrity was challenged. How did you handle it?
- Describe a time when you were blamed for doing something that wasn’t your fault.
- Have you ever experienced a loss or paid a price for doing what was right?
- Tell me about a major mistake you made, and what you did to correct it.
- Give me an example when you spoke out about something you didn’t feel was right.
- If you made a mistake that you knew the customer would not notice, would you inform them anyway?
Interpersonal skills questions
When you hire a new employee, you’re doing a lot more than just bringing their talent and skills into the workplace. Every new hire is a unique human being who has its own complexities, quirks, and emotions. Before bringing someone into your company, you should at least have an idea of how this person interacts with others and what kind of relationships they’ve had with co-workers at previous companies.
- Tell me about the relationships you’ve had with the people you’ve worked with.
- Give a specific example of a time you experienced a conflict with a co-worker or manager. What did you do? What was the end result?
- How do you build relationships when you start a new job?
- What kinds of people do you like to work with?
- Who was your best and worst boss? Why?
- Tell me about a time when you had to work closely with a co-worker whom you disliked or with whom you had trouble working. What did you do to make the relationship work so you could succeed for your company?
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Job requirement questions
Every job has a few basic requirements that absolutely must be met. It’s impossible to list out all the requirement questions for every possible job, but here’s a few common ones to get you started. Adapt these as needed to fit the jobs you’re hiring for.
- Can you work the required hours? (Expand on what these hours are)
- Can you perform the required tasks? (Expand on what these tasks are)
- Are you physically able to sit/stand/lift the required amount? (Expand on what the requirements are)
- Are you willing to work on holidays or weekends? (Explain why this may be necessary or why this is required)
- Are you willing to travel? (Explain what kind of travel will be required for the job)
- Are you willing to relocate? (Explain why a relocation would be necessary)
Leadership and management questions
Whether you’re hiring for a leadership position or not, asking a few questions about the leadership or management style of a would-be employee can reveal a lot about their character. Ultimately, every employee in your company will likely need to take the lead on something. Whether this is leading a customer to make a buying decision, rallying a team to deliver on a tight deadline, or managing an entire department, their ability to manage expectations and deliver results will impact your business. Get a head start during the interview process by asking a few questions from the list below.
- Explain a time when subordinates you supervised disagreed with your directives. How did you handle it?
- What would you do in a situation where you observe one of your employees give incorrect information to a customer?
- An employee calls in sick. During lunch that day, you see the employee out shopping. How would you handle the situation?
- What’s your management style?
- If we selected you for this position, can you give a description of your strategy over your first 90 days at the company?
- Tell me about a time you had someone on your team who was an incredible challenge. What did you do to manage them, and how did the situation turn out?
- Please provide an example of how you’ve demonstrated leadership skills.
- Tell me about a time when you had to give someone difficult feedback.
- Please share with me a time when you effectively delegated.
- Tell me of an instance where you lead by example.
- What was the most challenging personnel issue you’ve had to deal with and how did you handle it?
We all face the same dilemma every single day. When we wake up and pull ourselves out of bed, we have to make a decision to either work hard and give it our best, or mail it in and go through the motions. Motivation is a tricky thing because it always ebbs and flows. However, employees who can consistently motivate themselves, or who at least understand how or what motivates them, will be more productive and more valuable to your organization than those who can’t or don’t.
- What motivates you to do your best?
- How did the best manager you’ve ever had motivate you to perform well?
- What excites you most about working for us?
- How do you ensure that your personal level of motivation is high on a daily basis?
- When you had extra time available at your last job, describe ways you found to make your job more efficient.
- Tell me about a time when you went beyond your manager’s expectations in order to get the job done.
- Tell me about a time when you identified a new, unusual, or different approach for addressing a problem or task.
- If you find yourself working with a team that is not motivated, how do you keep yourself motivated and motivate others?
Productivity and motivation often go hand-in-hand. You’re not only looking for a job candidate who can motivate themselves, but you’re looking for someone who will be productive and deliver value for your business. A+ employees can often do in days what others might do in weeks. They find ways to both work harder and smarter. They are careful with their time and do not waste resources. They are masters at quickly identifying solutions to difficult problems and executing on plans to deliver results.
- What is your definition of hard work?
- Would you say that hard work is the most important factor related to job success?
- How do you measure your personal success in a job?
- How would you describe a typical working day in your current role?
- What are a few of your routines every day that make you more productive?
- When you have a lot of work to do, how do you get it all done? Give me an example.
- Tell me about a time when a co-worker was preventing you from getting your job done. What did you do about it?
Reliability and attendance questions
We previously mentioned how critical it was to hire job candidates who are honest. Another vital characteristic of a future employee is their reliability. The most basic qualification for any job is to show up and do the work assigned to you. If a job candidate is incapable of that simple demand, then they should not be considered for the job. A great way to check on an employee’s reliability is by calling and talking to a previous employer or former co-workers of the job candidate. You can also ask questions like the ones below to determine a person’s reliability.
- Do you consider yourself to be a reliable person? Please explain.
- What do you feel is an acceptable number of days to be absent in a year?
- What would you do if your workday ends before you’ve finished an important task?
- When we call your previous employers or references, what are they likely to tell us in regards to your dependability?
- Provide a specific example that best illustrates your ability to be “counted on.”
- Have you ever been disciplined or counseled at a previous job for violating attendance requirements?
When it comes to asking about salary, we find it best to be direct and straightforward. Ask the candidate what they expect in terms of compensation. You may preface the question by saying that they don’t need to give you exact figures, but you’d like to at least understand a “ballpark” estimate of what they’d like to be paid. You may follow up with questions about why they think they deserve the money they’re asking for and whether or not salary is the most critical factor in determining the job offer. If it’s not, you should do what you can to understand what is. There are times when your company may not be able to give an employee what they’re looking for in terms of monetary compensation, but if you can offer other benefits that they value, you may still convince them to come work for your company.
- What kind of salary do you wish to make in this position?
- Why do you feel you would deserve the salary you’ve requested?
- Is salary the most important factor to you when deciding to take this job? If not, what is?
Stress and pressure questions
Every job comes with its own challenges. Some days are easy going while others are stressful. It can be hard to predict how certain people will react in pressure situations, but there’s a lot that can be learned from how someone dealt with pressure in the past. We love asking questions about stress and pressure because it can reveal how someone copes, if and how they seek for help, how they delegate, and if they’re capable of rising to the occasion.
- What are your secrets for dealing with job stress/pressure?
- What was the most stressful part of your last job?
- Are there any times where you had a conflict with a superior? If yes, how did you handle it and resolve it?
- Describe a time when you felt the company was making too many changes. What did you do about it?
- Tell me about a time when you had too much work to do and knew you couldn’t get it all done.
- What’s the most stressful situation you’ve faced at work so far? How did you handle it? Which specific elements of your current role do you find the most stressful?
- Can you tell me about a time when you have received negative feedback from your manager or peers? How did you handle it?
You know what they say, teamwork makes the dream work, so it’s super important to understand how a job candidate works within a team setting. Very few positions within a company are left to operate completely independently. Most of your employees will have to work as a team in order to achieve success. We find it incredibly valuable to ask would-be employees about previous teamwork experience and whether or not they’re comfortable with being a team player.
- What makes you happiest and most effective when working with others?
- Being a new hire, how would you go about establishing your credibility quickly with your new team?
- Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a member of your team. What did you do?
- Give me an example of a time when your team worked especially well with another group or department to accomplish a goal.
- Have you been a member of a team that struggled or failed to accomplish its goal? If so, what were the reasons for the failure?
- Describe a disappointing team experience. What could you have done to prevent it?
- Tell me why you consider yourself a team player.
- Do you feel you work better alone or within a team setting? Why?
- What kind of personalities do you feel you work best with? Why?
Work environment and culture questions
We don’t necessarily love the term “culture-fit” because we think it’s often used as an excuse to not hire qualified candidates who simply don’t look like, talk like, or act like the majority of the company. This can hurt a company’s diversity and can limit innovation within a business. However, there are some basic minimum standards that an employee should meet in order to fit an organization’s culture. For example, if you’re running a brand new startup and the candidate you’re interviewing says they prefer large companies and tight organizational structure, they likely won’t be a fit. Or if you need someone who absolutely must be available on certain nights or weekends, but the candidate says they’re only willing to work between 9-5, then they likely won’t be a fit. Ask questions to help you understand how an employee likes to work and the kind of structures they enjoy operating under, and then determine whether or not those preferences will help or hurt their ability to contribute in your company.
- Describe for me your ideal work environment.
- Do you feel more comfortable in a flexible or structured work atmosphere?
- What’s one thing you would change about your last job’s work environment if you could?
- Do you feel more energized when you are working alone or when you are working as part of a team?
- What hours are you accustomed to working?
- Do you prefer to work for a small, medium, or large company? Why?