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An Employer’s Guide to Interview Questions

Our employer’s guide to interview questions gives you everything you need to find the best candidate for the role.

Our employer’s guide to interview questions gives you everything you need to find the best candidate for the role.

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With the post-pandemic labour market opening back up and an increasing number of potential candidates actively seeking new opportunities, it can be difficult to sift through all the noise to find the right person for the job. Asking the right questions during a job interview and knowing what to look for in your candidate’s responses will help you determine if their skills, experience and personality meet your requirements, putting you one step closer to making your next hire.

Interview preparation

To set yourself for a great interview, here are four steps to prepare:

  • Decide on your interview format and structure. There are lots of different interview formats and types, including telephone, in-person and remote / virtual, one-on-one, group, and panel interviews.f
  • Go over the job description and familiarise yourself with the requirements. Make a list of critical skills that the candidate must have, and be prepared to be flexible on the others. This will help you broaden your candidate pool.
  • Write down all of the questions you want to ask and highlight the ones which relate to the essential skills or experience you’re looking for.
  • If you are conducting the interview with a colleague, agree on a scoring system you can use to assess each candidate fairly.
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Telephone interviews

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A good way to screen candidates for the final interview stage is through a telephone interview. This can help you:

  • Assess the candidate’s communication skills
  • Clarify any ambiguous items on their CV
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You can also use telephone interviews to ask the candidate some screening questions, such as if they are willing to travel or if they have certain industry certifications etc.

Here are few questions you can ask in a telephone interview:

  • Tell me a little about yourself.
  • Can you tell me why you are looking for a new position?
  • What is it about this role which appeals to you?
  • What are your salary expectations?

The answer you receive to the first question should demonstrate the candidate’s communication skills, while the next two aim to give you an overall picture of their career objectives, personality and motivations.


Types of interview questions

Having a solid interview structure helps to make sure that you cover the ground you want to, as well as giving candidates plenty of opportunities to demonstrate their skills and experience, and the chance to ask any questions they have for you.

Most interviews will have a mix of close-ended or open-ended questions. Close-ended questions are ideal when you want simple, factual answers. Here’s a couple of examples:

  • How many years’ experience do you have?
  • How long did you work for your previous employer?
  • Have you ever been fired from a job?

Open-ended questions on the other hand are a good way to encourage candidates to open up, elaborate, and share their opinions. Many employers will ask open-ended questions to get an insight into the candidate’s personality and to assess their thought process. Common open-ended interview questions include:

  • What do you see as your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Where do you see your career in five years?
  • What accomplishments are you most proud of?

It’s a good idea to use mixture of the two types of questions throughout the interview. Resist the temptation to ask too many leading questions - for example “you are quite good at presentations, aren’t you?” as you want candidates to give their own answers.


Competency-based and strength-based interview questions

Competency-based interview questions (also called behavioural or situational questions) are used to understand the relevant skills, knowledge and behaviour a candidate has. Competency-based questions tend to be open-ended and may require answers involving real-life, situational examples. Asking competency-based questions allows you to learn about how a candidate has used their skills in the past to determine their suitability for the role. Examples include:

  • Describe a time when you had to make a difficult decision very quickly.
  • Can you give an example of when you have supported change within an organisation?
  • Can you describe a time when you worked under pressure?
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Strength-based interview questions, on the other hand, focus less on a candidate’s experience but aim to uncover what makes a candidate tick. They should give you an insight into a candidate’s potential, their willingness to learn, and how they approach different situations. Here are some strength-based questions:

  • Do you prefer working in a team or working individually?
  • What tasks are always left on your to-do list?
  • How do you stay motivated?
  • How would you approach a task you have never done before?

As competency and strength-based interview questions uncover different aspects of a candidate’s suitability for the role and the company, asking a mixture of the two can help you conduct a wellrounded interview.

Now that you’re up to speed on the kind of questions to ask in an interview, why not take a look at some of our other employer resources:

  • Top Interview Questions To Assess Candidate Culture Fit
  • How to Create Your Employee Value Proposition & Build A Positive Company Image
  • Managing & Engaging Your People: 5 People Management Skills Every Manager Needs To Succeed
  • Recruiting in Challenging Times
  • Your Essential Guide To Remote Onboarding

For the latest industry insights or to talk about growing your team, connect with our team today.


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