Making a great hiring decision starts with good interview questions, whether the candidate is remote or in-person. And after the Great Reshuffle, it’s even more essential to prepare before interviewing a candidate.

When the job market tipped heavily in favor of job seekers in the early 2020s, many people saw an opportunity to change careers. As a result, many job candidates today come with more varied resumés than you may have seen in years past. That makes interviews especially important in determining whether a candidate will be a good fit.

Plus, according to Indeed, 75% of employers have caught a lie on a candidate’s resumé. Common fibs range from inflated education credentials and previous job titles to language fluency and technical abilities. Preparing well for an interview can help you discover any inaccuracies and determine whether a candidate is a good fit for the job and for your company.

10 Interview Questions and What to Listen for in Candidates’ Answers

questions to ask in an interview

We’ll cover common interview questions along with guidance on how to assess candidates’ answers. Knowing what to listen for can help you evaluate potential employees.

1) Tell me about yourself.

Opening with this question eases the interviewee into what could otherwise feel like a stilted question-and-answer session. It allows you to show interest in the candidate as a person, and you can learn a lot based on their answer.

Listen for what the interviewee deems important to share when answering a general question. If they stumble or their response feels too short, you can offer guidance by following up with questions about their professional achievements and their future career goals.

2) What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Listen for whether the candidate’s greatest strengths align with your open role or fill a skills gap on your team. Their word choice and tone can also hint at their level of humility and teamwork.

As the candidate shares what they view as their weaknesses, you’ll get an idea of how honest they are and whether their shortcomings can be easily overcome by training and on-the-job learning.

3) How did you hear about this position?

While this may not give you much insight on the candidate, it can inform your future recruiting efforts. Track where your candidates come from to identify trends. You may find that the poorest matches typically come from a certain agency or online job search board. Or, perhaps you’ll discover that most of your best candidates flow in from a certain hiring manager’s referrals.

4) Why do you want this job?

The right candidate is one who fits the requirements and who wants the job. Otherwise, you may have to contend with an unengaged employee or hiring and training a replacement sooner than you want.

When the candidate answers this question, listen for evidence that they have not only read the job description but also feel they’d be a good fit for the role. If they explain that the job will help them pursue their intended career path, they’re more likely to be an engaged, productive employee and a great fit for your team.

5) Tell me about a challenge you’ve previously faced at work and how you dealt with it.

This question will give you insight into what the candidate finds challenging, especially if they weren’t entirely forthcoming about their weaknesses. You’ll also learn about the candidate’s approach to problem solving and overcoming interpersonal conflicts.

When you ask these sorts of behavioral interview questions, encourage candidates to share actual situations they’ve encountered to learn how they navigated challenges. According to LinkedIn, 75% of professional recruiters report using this method to assess candidates’ soft skills.

6) Describe your work style.

Ask this question to ensure a candidate’s working style will align with the styles of others who already work at the company. Your crew most likely has a defined culture and expectations, so consider sharing that information with the candidate. This will help them assess whether they might be successful at your business.

For instance, if you have a highly collaborative crew, it may be difficult for someone who likes to work in solitude to join the team.

how to answer interview questions

7) How do you deal with stressful situations?

Depending on how you ask this question and follow up on the candidate’s answer, it could become another behavioral interview question. You may even choose to share a hypothetical situation likely to arise at your business to see how they would manage and overcome their stress.

8) How do you stay organized?

If you prefer to hire self-sufficient people who don’t need to be micromanaged, this is an important question. Listen for how they keep their space organized also how they manage their time and prioritize day-to-day tasks.

9) What salary are you looking for?

Be careful when discussing pay during an interview. More and more states and cities are banning salary history questions—but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask a candidate about their salary expectations.

Prior to interviewing candidates, research salary data based on your area, the job, and the experience level you’re hoping to find. This will help ensure you’re offering a realistic salary range based on fair market compensation.

Then, ask candidates for their target salaries. See whether their expectations fall somewhere within your range. If not, you may save yourself and the candidate some time by disclosing your range and asking whether they’d still consider the job.

10) Do you have any questions for me?

It’s always a good idea to give candidates the option to ask questions in an interview. Their inquiries can reveal whether they’ve done their research on your company and its needs. You may learn whether they’re future-focused, big-picture thinkers ready to make an impact on your company’s success. Questions could also reveal red flags.

When you turn the table and let the interviewee ask the questions, be ready to share information on pay, vacation time, development opportunities, company culture, a typical day, and next steps in your hiring process.

Additional Job Interview Support

Once your job interviews are complete, your hiring process isn’t done. Consider recording your impressions of each candidate. Then rank and store their resumés. This could save you time when you need to hire again down the road.

If you like a specific person, try to offer the job quickly. They may be interviewing with other employers (it’s okay to ask them about this), and top candidates often receive job offers within days of interviewing.

Finally, keep in mind that we’re in an age when people write online reviews about everything from their service while ordering coffee to, yes, their job interviews. Make sure you share updates with each candidate, especially after someone has accepted your job offer. Almost two-thirds of candidates have been disappointed by poor communication from employers during their interview processes.

For more job interview guidance from Small Biz Ahead, check out the following articles:

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