When you own your business, finding the right people for your team is huge. That’s why it’s so important that you, or your hiring manager, know how to interview someone well.
If you want to how to interview someone, one of the first things you’ll want to look at is the questions that you’re asking. If you’re not sure which questions to ask, we’ve got some inspiration for you.
The 13 Best Interview Questions To Ask
If you’re wanting to learn how to interview someone well, here are the 13 best questions to ask.
1. Tell Me a Little About Yourself?
Instead of diving right into the duties and responsibilities of the job, start by getting to know the person a little better.
Asking a personal question like this can help to set the hiree at ease. And you may learn things about their background that could help them perform well in the job they’re applying for.
Chhavi and Amit, from Mrs Daaku Studio, explained why they always begin interviews with this question.
This helps you understand how much the candidate is prepared for the interview, their background, and provide you with relevant elements to move forward with the interview in a meaningful manner. You will also learn a lot of interesting facts about them along with knowing how confident they are.
In his interviews, Tom Sylvester, from tomandariana.com, asks a similar question–“So What Is Your Story?” Again, he says this question is all about learning more about the person.
Starting your interview off with this open question can tell you a lot. Obviously, you will get to know the person and their background, but you can also learn a lot more, such as where do they start, what do they think is important to share, how well do they communicate and tell their story, and even things like how they work and their core values.
No matter what kind of a job your hiring for, it’s a great idea to start with personal questions like these.
2. Why Are You Leaving Your Current Job?
Is the person leaving because they are excited about what your company is all about and wants to improve their career?
Or are they only leaving because they have negative feelings toward their previous coworkers?
Ideally, you want a new hiree’s primary motivation for changing jobs to be positive, not negative.
3. What Was The Best And Worst Thing About Working For Your Old Boss?
It’s easy for any former employee to bash their former manager. But it takes more emotional intelligence to separate someone’s good traits from their bad ones.
If the interviewee spends 10 minutes explaining all the problems with their old boss and then says, “Honestly, I can’t think of any positive traits,” this is concerning.
It’s ok if the potential team member shares negative attributes of their old boss (after all you asked them to), but you’re looking for balance and objectivity.
4. Tell Me About A Time When You Worked On A Team And Had To Resolve A Conflict. What Would You Have Done Differently?
GP, from Entirely Money, and Drew DuBoff both said that this was one of their favorite interview questions. GP explained why anyone who wants to know how to interview someone well, should add this question to their repertoire.
No matter where you work, there will be some conflict or disagreement that you will need to work through. I want to understand how a candidate handles this part of the job to make sure they can successfully navigate challenging situations and come to a resolution that makes our company better. And I want to understand that they can do it in a manner that doesn’t destroy working relationships.
The follow-up question will help you see their ability to self-criticize and identify improvement opportunities.
5. In Your Last Position, What Was Your Strategy For Building Relationships With Your Team Members And Peers?
No matter how talented someone may be, it may not matter if they can’t get along well with the rest of your team.
That’s why GP said that he always includes this question during his interviews.
This is one of my favorite interview questions. By the time I get to this question, I’ve determined that the candidate has the technical capability to do the job. This question helps me understand how the candidate will build rapport with other team members and how they might fit into the culture of the company.
6. What Excites You the Most About This Role?
The first five questions that we’ve looked at have all been related to the hiree’s background and interpersonal skills. But now we transition into questions that hone in on the actual work that the interviewee would be doing for your business.
Logan Allec, a CPA at Money Done Right, said that, for his business, technical proficiency isn’t the top priority he looks for in a hire. Instead, he’s looking for interviewees that show passion and zeal for the work that they would be doing.
The roles I hire for are not particularly technical as they pertain to the creation and dissemination of personal finance content for everyday people. So apart from having the basic core skills to get the job done, it’s not like I need to hire a social media manager or content writer with a top-notch education and career pedigree.
Logan continued explaining why the excitement factor is so important to him during an interview.
I’ve found that the thing that sets apart great hires from mediocre ones is the excitement they bring to the position. For example, more so than possessing a master’s degree in journalism, I want a writer who is really excited about my company’s mission of helping everyday people with their finances and will reflect that in creating the best, most helpful content around.
If a candidate struggles to articulate what excites them about the role they’re interviewing for, he or she is probably not a good fit.
7. Tell Me About Work That You’ve Done Previously That Will Help You Succeed In This Role.
This question will help you determine the interviewer’s grasp of the job and what they will need to do to be successful. You may also learn about strengths and accomplishments the interviewer possesses that don’t necessarily show up well on a resume.
For example, if a freelance writer is applying for a marketing position, the following may be a great answer. “As a freelance writer, I’ve learned how to create content that drives traffic to my clients’ sites. I can take my knowledge of SEO, networking, and social media marketing to help grow your business’s online presence as well.”
However, this answer wouldn’t be so great. “As a freelance writer, I’ve learned how to write quickly and efficiently. I’ve also learned how to be a self-starter and manage my time well.”
The attributes mentioned in that quote are positive. But they are general traits that apply to just about any kind of work. And the answer doesn’t really show that the interviewer understands what specific skills they would need to succeed in a marketing role.
Even if you’re potential employee has never worked directly in the role that they’re applying for, you want to know that they have a firm understanding of what the job would entail.
Related: How To Hire An Assistant
8. What Goals Would You Like to Accomplish Here?
This interview question comes from Max at Tried and True Mom Jobs. Here’s what she had to say about why the question can be helpful.
This will help you get a sense of their expectations and to see if this is the right fit for them.
This question can also help you see if they have taken the time to read your company’s mission and values (if available). Having their own individual goals is great, but they need to be able to verbalize how their personal goals connect to the overall stated goals of the company.
9. What’s A Skill That You Would Like To Improve On In This Role and What Is Your Plan For Doing So?
This question also comes from Logan Allec. By asking this question, he wants to see if the interviewee has an “always looking to grow and improve” attitude.
Gone are the days of the boring “what are your greatest strengths and weaknesses” questions. Rather than asking a candidate to gloat about their skills that are very likely already found on their resume or to point out flaws that they may awkwardly stumble through, I prefer to focus on self-improvement.
This question will reveal their level of humility, hunger for growth, and commitment to professional development.
10. What Is The Toughest Feedback You Have Ever Received And What Did You Learn From It?
This interview question was submitted by Mark, at Financial Pilgrimage. Here’s why it’s one of his favorite interview questions.
This not only provides insight on what may be an opportunity for improvement but also indicates if a person is open to feedback.
It’s up to you to decide the parameters that you set for this question. But you may want to let the interviewee know that they’re free to share feedback that they’ve received in or outside the workplace.
They may choose to share a story of feedback that they received from a family member or friend. That’s ok. As long as they demonstrate a teachable attitude, that’s all you’re really looking for.
11. Tell Me About A Time Where…
Nick Elkins, from Teach My Kids About Money, has spent a good portion of his career in HR and talent development. And he explained why it’s so important to ask behavioral questions during interviews.
Lots of studies show that interviews alone have about a 10% chance of success (defined as the right person in the job for 3+ years). Add behavioral questions and that goes up significantly.
And Nick explained that you can take this concept even further by taking advantage of behavioral assessments.
The really interesting thing…is the studies that show using an assessment that gauges their behavioral patterns and motivating needs and tell you what questions to ask.
For example, if you determine the job requires someone to be very people-oriented and the assessment points out that the person is a good fit but is more task-oriented than people-oriented, it would tell you to ask about a time where they needed to put people before the task, how it worked out, how they felt, etc.
Nick said that matching the questions up to each specific interviewee in this way leads to a much greater chance of success.
The studies that incorporated those types of rigor into their hiring process showed an 80%+ success rate in finding, placing, and retaining the right person for the role.
12. What Question Did I Not Ask You That I Should Have?
Jon Dulin, from Money Smart Guides, provided us with this interview question. Here’s why he loves it.
I love asking this one because it tells you a lot about the person. First, they have to be confident enough to come up with a question. Second, it shows you their level of understanding of the position. And finally, when they answer the question you didn’t ask, you learn more about them.
13. What Questions Do You Have For Me?
And our final top interview question isn’t really a question at all. It’s an opportunity for your interviewee to ask you the burning questions that are on their mind.
Most talented candidates will want answers to questions regarding the company culture and career advancement potential. If they don’t have any questions about the job, this may indicate they are a bit desperate or haven’t thought about the job deeply enough.
Related: Low-Cost Employee Benefits For Your Small Business
How to Interview Someone
The 13 questions listed above are a great starting place if you want to know how to interview someone. But asking the right questions is only part of your job as an interviewer.
You also need to know how to facilitate interview discussions in a way that gives you the best chance of finding your ideal candidate. If you want to know how to interview someone well, here are four few general tips that can help.
1. Smile (And Say Something Nice).
It’s important to understand that the person you’re interviewing is probably going to be incredibly nervous. A friendly smile can immediately set them at ease.
Also, you may want to say something complimentary about their resume or prior work experience. Do whatever you can to help settle the butterflies in their stomach so their real personality can shine through.
2. Be An Active Listener.
No one likes to feel like they’re being ignored when they’re speaking.
You can show your interviewer that you care about what they’re saying by nodding your head periodically and giving other non-verbal cues.
You’ll probably be taking notes while your potential hiree is speaking. But, still, try to look up and make eye contact as often as you can.
3. Give The Interviewee Time To Answer
Once you’ve asked a question, it may take a few seconds for your interviewer to answer. That’s ok. Give them a few seconds to work through the answer in their mind.
Be ok with silence. Don’t try to rush in to fill every pause in the conversation with your own comments.
By giving your interviewer a few more seconds to continue, you may end up learning something very important that you otherwise would have missed.
4. Don’t Let An Interviewee’s Charisma Cloud Your Judgment
Some people are natural extraverts who are great at carrying on a conversation with anyone. For others, an in-person (or phone) interview will be one of the scariest moments of their year.
Be careful that you don’t overlook the best fit for the job for the simple reason that they didn’t talk to you for 10 minutes about their pets or a sport that you both love.
Some people are, honestly, experts at coming off well in an interview. That doesn’t make them bad. But you also don’t want to hire them just for their charisma.
When it comes to knowing how to interview someone, there’s no perfect formula that can guarantee you’ll always find the right person for a job.
But by asking the right questions and asking them in the right way, you’ll have a much better chance of success than the interviewer who doesn’t have a plan.