Good questions for employers to ask at interview

Asking good questions at interview is something of an art for employers.

After all, you’ve already read their CV, maybe checked their LinkedIn profile, perhaps explored their GitHub if you’re recruiting for an IT job and it’s relevant.

This means the best questions for interviewers expand on areas outside those covered in the CV or application. But so many classic interview questions give you responses that are generic or tell you very little.

These questions, on the other hand, are designed to encourage candidates to provide specifics about the subjects you want to know about.

The best questions for interviewers to ask

1) What are the next two/ three accomplishments you want to achieve?

An older and arguably less useful version of this question is “where do you see yourself in five years’ time?”

This alternative version gets down to the specifics of what actually matters to a candidate. Is it to get more training? To get a promotion?

Ask them what they want to achieve specifically and you’ll get a more useful answer than “working for your company”.

2) What do you feel you were best/ worst at in your previous job?

This question attacks another classic area where job interview questions generally don’t get to the point – strengths and weaknesses.

The strategy is again to give a candidate the opportunity to provide specifics that give you a more illuminating answer.

3) What are your interests outside of work?

This can be a good icebreaker and give you something to talk about outside of the subject of work. This is desirable for getting more of an insight into how good a fit they’re going to be for your team and company culture on a personal level.

However, do avoid asking personal questions about their marital status, health, or where they were born or grew up. Some of these are protected characteristics and the rest are potentially not helpful to discuss unless they bring the subject up first.

4) What makes you want to work here instead of for our competitor?

Asking for a comparison against your biggest competitor not only tests whether the candidate has done a bit of local industry research but forces them to think a bit deeper about your offering.

This calls for more analysis too, giving you more insight into their thought process.

5) How would you check the quality of your work?

You can tailor this question to the output of almost any job role. Quality control and assurance are important for every department, from accounting to HR.

For example, if you’re recruiting a software developer, you might want to hear them talk about what makes high-quality or low-quality code in their eyes. Or about their approach to documentation.

You might consider tweaking the question or putting a number on the things you’d like to hear about if you want to encourage them to divulge even more of their working practices.

6) How would colleagues describe you – and why?

The “why” part of this question is the most important. Asking someone to describe themselves or their best achievements or qualities is a traditional part of an interview – it’s also one that rarely gives you any useful information.

Of course, you’ll hear that this person is a perfectionist, a person who just can’t put work down and loves overtime – god’s gift to machine learning or data science or whatever job you’re hiring them for.

Asking why someone else might have formed an opinion about them that shows they are such and such is much more illuminating. Was it because they are “always the first to arrive in the morning” or “created all these presentations that I was complimented on by my manager”?

Once more, it’s all about gently extracting the specifics that will help you choose one candidate over another. Asking good questions at interview is the best way for employers to do exactly that.

Another way is to talk to a specialist engineering and IT recruitment company like Ernest Gordon.

Every day, our market-leading AI recruitment technology and extensive talent pool let us find the right candidates for specific IT jobs for a dynamic range of organisations.

Talk through your recruitment needs with an expert today. There’s no cost or commitment.