All managers have their favourite questions to ask candidates, from the banal to the bizarre. But what do the answers to these questions actually tell you about the interviewee.

Interview questions can generally be grouped into the following;

Standard questions

These are commonplace at job interviews and your candidates will probably have some pre-prepared answers. They still provide an effective way of evaluating candidates against each other. For example:

• What attracted you to this role? – This will tell you how much research they have done into the role and company. What are your main motivations? – Are they looking to develop their skills with your company or do they feel passionate about the industry you operate in?

• What are your main strengths and weaknesses? – Worth finding out what candidates think make them stand out and also how they plan to overcome their limitations.

Investigative questions

As well as technical questions about the role, you will want to find out a bit more about the type of worker they are and the experience they have gained. These could include:

• What management styles do you work best under? – Does this match the type of management that they could expect to experience if they got the job?

• What type of people do you like to work with? – Again, this will help you find out if they will fit into your existing team structure.

• What has been the biggest challenge in your career? – Finding out how they turned a situation around can tell you a lot about an individual. It also lets you assess what they perceive to be a ‘challenge’.

Bad questions

A bad interview question can not only take your interview wildly off course, but it may also put you in a negative light in the mind of the interviewee. Here’s a few to avoid:

• Tell me about yourself – Firstly, it’s not actually a question. Secondly you’re not providing a starting point so the response might not tell you what you were hoping to find out. Try an alternative such as “Can you describe why you have chosen this career path?”

• Where do you want to be in five years? – The truthful answer would be on a beach in Hawaii after winning the lottery. Instead, ask “Which of your skills do you hope to develop over the next few years to help you take a step up in your career?”

• What can you do for us that others can’t? – Candidates will be unlikely to know about the strengths and weaknesses of their competitors, so will put forward their work ethic

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