Best Interview Questions to Ask Candidates:

1. What is your current and expected salary?

If their current salary is more than you can pay, or their expected salary is much more, you know there’s no point in going further. End the interview early, because people will rarely accept a job that pays less than what they currently make, or well below what they expect, and when they do, they don’t last long.

This question also gives you an instant gauge of where they are in their career and how to interview them. Someone making entry-level wages is probably newer to their career. A candidate making something nearer to the top of the pay scale is probably more senior and should be interviewed accordingly.

The question will also give you a sense of how much their previous employer valued them. As you can see, the answer to this one question packs a lot of information.

2. What mistakes do others commonly make in this job?

If they haven’t thought about the common mistakes people in this position make, they won’t know when they are making them. This will give you some insight into how well they know the job, as well as their level of self-awareness.

Our first question will already pay off here because it tells us how deep of an answer we should expect. If they were making senior-level wages, or are expecting them, they should provide a very in-depth answer.

3. Why are you leaving your current position?

The main reason for asking this is to make sure the reason they’re leaving doesn’t cause them to leave you too. For example, if they’re leaving because they don’t like working weekends, and you’ll also be requiring them to work weekends, it's not going to work.

This question also provides you with information for the offer stage. For example, if they wanted more paid time off, and you offer more than most companies, you’ll want to highlight this at offer time.

The other thing you want to see is if they have negative things to say about their current employer. Most job seekers know not to trash-talk their last employer, and if they do, it’s probably a sign that they just can’t help themselves.

4. Talk to me about the most successful idea you’ve taken from zero to launch.

It will show you where they’ve taken initiative, how they go about organizing their ideas and putting them into action, and what kind of projects they’re ready to oversee.

If you get someone who says they've made senior-level wages or is asking for them, you should be alarmed if their biggest project isn't very big or ambitious, or if they're vague on the details of it.

5. Tell me about your favorite [product, service, etc., in your industry].

This question gives you an idea of how closely they follow the industry and industry trends and what they consider to be a success in terms of position and execution. This question gives you an idea of what they aspire to be in the job and what they admire in other people and companies.

6. What are your strengths?

Asking about a candidate's strengths provides insight into the candidate's self-perception and allows them to highlight the top qualities they believe they have to offer. Ideally, the candidate should give specific examples that demonstrate their greatest strengths and how they align with the position for which they are interviewing.

7. What are your weaknesses?

Similar to the question above, asking a candidate about their weaknesses can reveal how self-aware they are and whether they are motivated to work on their shortcomings. While this provides an idea of the candidate's limitations and their drive to improve. It may also give you pause for consideration if these conflict with the job's demands.

8. What made you apply for this job?

This question is great for finding out what the candidate thought was most appealing about the position and how much thought they gave it. While some may only gloss over job descriptions, checking for primary keywords that match their skills, others take a closer look and research the company to learn if it would be a good fit for them.

9. Can you describe how you deal with conflict, criticism, and challenges at work?

Asking this question can help you learn more about how the candidate behaves and performs when confronted with potentially difficult or sensitive situations at work. It serves to determine whether they are open to compromise and willing to adapt, particularly when their own performance is in question, and how they solve problems and manage stress.

10. Where do you see yourself in five years?

A candidate with a clear idea of where they want to be in the long term indicates a strong professional drive. If the career goal they outline is achievable within your company, there is strong potential for them to become a fiercely loyal employee if they are supported and motivated to achieve their goals at your company.

Bonus Questions:

The interview forms just part of a greater strategy. Read our article on full life cycle recruiting to see where the interview fits in the journey from attracting potential employees to eventually bringing them on board.

Related Articles:

How to Interview Candidates

Start building a better team today with these practical tips on how to effectively interview job candidates.

Second Interview Questions

10 questions to ask at a second interview.

Situational Interview Questions

A list of questions to test how candidates will react to hypothetical situations in the office.

Stress Interview Questions

The 12 best stress interview questions to ask interviewees.

Illegal Interview Questions — What Not to Ask Candidates

Questions you should avoid asking in an interview.