12 Insightful Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

Posted: July, 24, 2019 | Categories: Interviewing and Hiring


Aside from the typical “Why do you want to work here?” there are a variety of questions you can ask candidates in an interview. However, many of those questions don’t tell you much more about the candidate than their resume. More often than not, the interview questions we ask candidates simply regurgitate what’s already on their resume. Instead of asking the candidate the generic interview questions, try asking them something that will give you insight on who they are and what their dreams and aspirations look like. In the following, we’ve highlighted 12 unique interview questions that will help give you more insight on your potential employees.



A Few Things to Keep in Mind

Before we dive into sample interview questions, let’s go over why and what types of insightful interview questions you can ask your candidates. Typical interview questions will ask the candidate about their work experience and how it relates to the position you are interviewing for. While this gives you valuable information about the candidate, it only expands on what you have already read in their resume & says little about the candidate’s emotional intelligence or motivation.

The most insightful interview questions are the ones that will help you not only assess the candidate’s current abilities and skills, but also see who they really are and how they would fit into your company and the role. The following 12 insightful interview questions can be broken down into four categories: Motivational, Emotional Intelligence, Situational & Behavioral, and Knowledge Assessment.




Motivational questions give the candidate the opportunity to share their career goals and what they truly want in a company and position. The best motivational questions aim to help you not only understand the candidate’s goals but also what drives them.

     1. “Tell me something about yourself that isn’t on your resume.”

This is a great way to see the person behind the work history while helping you understand their character & if they fit within your company culture.

     2. “What kind of work would make you excited to get out of bed on Monday morning?”

Most candidates, when looking for a new job, will consider many perks of their dream job, but they are not often asked about it. This question will give you valuable insight into their drives & motivations.

     3. “How do you choose what company or role to apply to?”

Understanding what the candidate is looking for when applying for a position is a great way to determine whether the role is truly a match with their interests and career goals.



Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence questions help you understand how a candidate will deal with the challenges they might face in the workplace or role, how aware they are of their and other’s emotions, and how they manage their emotions to adapt to change. The best emotional intelligence questions not only help you see their strengths and weaknesses, it also helps you see into their personality and how they might navigate the challenges of the role.

     4. “Who are your role models?”

Knowing who someone’s role models are tells you more about the candidate than you might think. For example, if their role model is Walt Disney, you might learn they have a knack for creative intelligence and an entrepreneurial spirit.

     5. “What personal or professional mistake have you learned from the most?”

Everyone makes mistakes. What’s important here, is to see the candidate has the ability to learn from their mistakes.

     6. “What was your favorite and least favorite part about your most recent job/company?”

Knowing what a candidate liked/disliked in their last company will help you assess their ability to thrive in certain environments (i.e. do they stay poised and avoid potential negative situations? Can they work in a high-stress workplace? And so on).

     7. “If you could go back and do something differently from your past, what would it be?”

Asking a candidate this question will help you see how they deal with failure. In other words, if given the chance, would that candidate go back and address their shortcomings in that moment or do they feel they have grown from the experience and appreciate the failure? 



Situation & Behavioral

Situation & Behavioral questions are common in an interview. You come up with a scenario and the goal is to see how that candidate would solve a situation or problem, right? Not necessarily. While asking a candidate about a challenge they’ve experienced is not a bad question, it might not give you as much insight as a question that takes an ethical or theoretical approach.

     8. “If you were our CEO, what is the first thing you would do?”

This question is a great way to not only see if the candidate did their research and understands the company, but also helps you see what kind of leader they would be.

     9. “Tell me about a time that someone criticized your work?”

This question will help to reveal not only how a candidate addresses criticism but also whether they can accept and grow or learn from it.



Knowledge Assessment

Knowledge Assessment questions help you assess the candidate’s ability to perform the tasks required for the role they are applying for. Some knowledge assessment questions might need you to prepare a test or exercise. However, not all knowledge assessment questions require a test.

     10. “What is your favorite [industry] website, book, or other resource?”

Knowing a candidate’s industry related interests will not only help you see how much they know and understand the industry, but also how interested they are in it.

     11. What difficulties did you face when learning XYZ & how did you overcome them? - I.e. software, hardware, vehicles (such as a forklift)

It’s easy to ask someone to tell you about using XYZ and the average person could easily give you a quick summary of how it works. However, the candidates who have truly nurtured this skill are the ones who also understand what difficulties they might face when using it and know how to overcome them.

     12. “What challenges do you see impacting the industry?”

Only candidates who truly understand the industry and where it is going will have the ability to answer this question with confidence.


By JWilliams Staffing

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