Interview Tips

Interview Questions Every Employer Should Ask

By: Mariah Rogers
Feb 23, 2021 • 6 min read

Interview Questions Every Employer Should Ask When Analyzing Candidates.

As an employer, conducting interviews to fill an open position at your company can be a stressful and time-consuming process. You will have to prepare for the interview and reserve time in your day to meet with candidates and conduct a proper analysis of their skills. You’ll also have to ask a fellow manager or supervisor to cover for you during this time while you are away! Interviews can really interrupt your regular day-to-day schedule. However, bringing in applicants so that you can get to know them personally is an important duty every employer must make a priority. This is why understanding interview questions every employer should ask is so critical.

Onboarding a new hire can make or break a team. You’ll want to make sure that this new employee fits in well with the company culture and can collaborate with other teammates effectively. This makes it critical to ask interview questions that are elaborate and specific! In this blog, we will explore key interview questions to ask during your next recruitment process.

interview questions to ask

What Do You Know About Our Company?

It is recommended that all applicants research the company they are applying for before the interview is conducted. This way, they are prepared to answer company-specific questions and show that they spent the time researching beforehand! To see how much time they allocated to preparing for the interview with your company, see what they know about the position itself.

You shouldn’t grill your applicants about the nitty-gritty details of your company. These details will come with time. Try to ask them about attributes or facts that can easily be located on the first few pages of the company website! If they have spent a good amount of time researching, they will be able to answer these basic questions. Onboarding an applicant who has spent the time getting to know your company boosts the likelihood of this new employee flourishing on your team. Since they have done their homework before the interview, you know they care about the role and value your time. This is a recipe for a great employee!

You can simply ask “What do you know about our company”? Or, you can get a little more specific to the position itself. Here is a list of questions you can consider asking when determining how familiar applicants are with your company.

  • What excites you most about this position?
  • How does our company mission align with your personal values?
  • What is something our company has accomplished in the past 5 years that you can see yourself contributing towards?
  • How does our company mission align with your past work experience?

Allow yourself to get familiar with how much the applicant knows about your company. If they have researched beforehand, you can be sure that this employee is taking their application seriously!

Could You Talk About Your Self-Management / Motivation Techniques?

This question is especially important to ask when interviewing employees who will join the company remotely. Every since the pandemic hit last March, companies have been onboarding more and more employees from all across the globe. The traditional 9-5 office work-style is quickly becoming a thing of the past! As a result, you’ll want to ensure that you are hiring self-motivated and accountable employees. Since these new employees will not be working with a boss peeking over their shoulder 24/7, you’ll want to ask about their time-management and independent thinking skills.

Here are a few prompts you can utilize when interviewing employees who will have to work independently, or in a virtual workplace.

  • Could you talk about your problem-solving skills? Have you had to face any challenges independently since working remotely?
  • Working from home can require a lot of self-motivation. How do you hold yourself accountable so that you can contribute effectively to team projects?
  • How do you diffuse conflict with coworkers when working remotely?
  • What is the biggest challenge you have faced since working independently from home?

interview questions to ask

Why Did You Apply For This Job?

There are many different reasons that contribute to why an applicant applies for a position. Examples include money, benefits, experience, contributing towards a mission they believe in, and more! Learn about what specifically attracted each applicant to your company. This will tell you a lot about their job-search process and what they are looking for in an employment opportunity. You want to be sure that the job is not only a good fit for them, but that they will be successful in the company, too. Finding out why an applicant applied for the job is one of the best interview questions to ask.

The bottom line is, most people seek employment for monetary benefits so that they can support themselves and their families. However, this is not the reasoning you want to hear from applicants applying to your company! Sure, you already know they are seeking a job. But the point of conducting an interview is finding out why they want this job in particular.

Positive responses/reasons for applying:

  • Company culture
  • Company values and mission statement
  • To gain more experience and strengthen their skills.
  • To learn something new.
  • Because they want to expand their understanding
  • Because they are passionate about what the company does
  • The position requires the skills and talents that they possess.

Negative responses/reasons for applying:

  • Money
  • To build their network.
  • Last resort since other employment opportunities did not work out
  • Because they are desperate to escape their current employment situation

You should always continue with applicants who want to work at your company because of the culture, mission, and opportunity for experience.

What is Your Dream Company Culture?

Finding out how this candidate will mesh into your company culture can tell you a lot about their work style, values, and beliefs. This is why asking the applicant about their dream company culture is so important! If they desire a structured, strict workplace environment with concrete expectations and your workplace values a flexible culture, they might not be the best fit for your company.

The first step in understanding what type of employee will fit into your company culture is defining characteristics that make your workplace special. What are some things that make your company unique? This will help you better align your goals with those of the applicant. Defining these characteristics prior to the interview will help the meeting be more effective and helpful in making your decision on whether or not to hire this candidate.

Attributes of company culture:

  • Flexible workplace (employees can create their own hours, communication between employees and managers is relaxed and conversational, deadlines are flexible, work-life balance is valued)
  • Structured workplace (concrete goals and expectations, independent work is valued, cross-functional teams are rare, clear guidelines, structured daily work schedule)

Match what the candidate says in their response to the current state of your company culture! If they mention attributes that your workplace possesses, they might qualify for a second round of interviews.

interview questions to ask

What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?

This might seem like an old-school classic interview question, but it gets the job done! Finding out what each candidate is good and bad at will help you decide if they will be a good fit for your team. Plus, you want to ensure that your applicants are able to identify their strengths and weaknesses! This is a valuable skill in itself. If they are able to identify what they are good and bad at, it is likely that they are receptive to feedback and able to make changes. Self-aware employees make effective problem-solvers, something that is an asset to every team.

Be accepting of applicants who are open, genuine, and vulnerable when discussing their weaknesses. This is not an easy task! No one likes to focus on the negative and reveal their faults the first time meeting with someone, especially a potential employer. Be kind and open as applicants talk about their weaknesses and ways that they hope to improve.

When applicants answer this question, you want to focus on how this candidate discusses what they are doing to improve their flaws. This is a key component to the question. You want to discover what each applicant is actively doing to strengthen their weaknesses and improve themselves as a professional. Employees who are willing to grow and change are more likely to prosper!

Watch out for:

  • Applicants who do not mention any weaknesses.
  • Candidates who state that they are good at everything!
  • Candidates who do not show interest in improving their weaknesses.
  • Applicants who share a weakness that is not related to their professional life.

woman sitting on armless chair with light between bookcases in room

How Would You Describe Your Relationship With Your Past Boss?

This is another key question that will help you predict what kind of employee this candidate will be in your workplace. Learning about how applicants view their past relationships with employers is crucial! Sure, no manager/subordinate relationship is perfect. However, if an applicant bashes or talks poorly of their past boss, this is a red flag you should take notice of.

You want to be careful of hiring employees who believe that nothing is their fault / have the tendency to blame others for the negative impacts they have caused in the workplace. This can lead to an unproductive and toxic workplace culture. No one wants to work in a hostile environment! Asking this question during the interview will help you uncover how candidates speak of their past experiences.

Examples

Watch out for phrases such as:

  • My previous boss and I did not get along. He was very controlling and did not let me have any say in how I spent my shifts.
  • I had a poor relationship with my last boss. He played favorites and always prioritized other employees before me!
  • I would not want to work for anyone who is like my last boss. There was no structure to my days, and I felt as though the workplace was completely unprofessional. It was entirely their fault!

Positive phrases might appear as:

  • While my previous boss and I had different work styles, we were always able to be productive and collaborate well together!
  • I admire my last boss’s leadership and management skills. Bring these positive techniques to your company is a goal of mine!
  • I did not have a strong relationship with my previous boss. My belief is that it is important to have a close relationship with management so that instructions don’t get lost in translation!

The way that candidates talk about their previous boss or coworkers can speak volumes about how this employee respects others in the workplace. You want to hire someone that not only contributes value to your company but can respect other’s opinions, too! As a result, you will have a more healthy and productive work environment.

The “Perfect” Employee

Remember, there is no such thing as the “perfect” employee. You’ll want to be open to hiring someone with potential, not perfection. Training them and watching this employee grow and develop is one of the joys of being a manager! Seek applicants who are respectful, hardworking, experienced, and can fit into your company culture. The rest will fall into place!

More to Read:

How to Answer: What Do You Look For in a Company?

Guide to Interviewing Applicants 

Finding The Perfect Company For You

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