Job interview questions to ask


First create a guide form to use on all interviews, which grades each of the questions given below.  Grade it on a level of 1 to 5, with 5 being best.  You should have at least 10 skill related questions.  You will want to make many copies to use as a guide for future interviews as well to help stick to the same outline.  Have a comments and notes section, as well as a name and date.  This can then be attached with the application and resume.  Make sure you have a few “how and what” type of questions to verify what they claim.  See how quick and correctly they answer the question.  Many times if someone does not know the answer, they will go off track and talk about something they do know.


The more prepared you are, the more respect you will have already developed if you decide to hire this person.  With respect comes trust, and they will look forward to working for you.  The opposite is true if you seem like you are just bumbling around during the interview.  Also make sure you give your full attention to the interviewee with no interruptions.  Put the applicant at ease by making some non-threatening small talk, and not jumping right into the question/answer phase.  They are going to be nervous and blow the interview if they feel threatened or intimidated.  You goal is to find the best in this person, and watch out for the worse.


Here are 14 questions you can ask during the live interview.  You may have already covered the basics if you did a pre-screening interview over the phone:


  1. Ask about their experience.  You are looking for what they did, time spent at jobs related to the position you are trying to fill, and how well that experience qualifies them for the job.  


  1. Ask about their education.  Related college courses or certificates are highly valued and shows that they are taking this career choice seriously.


  1. Ask about their skills.  You are looking for their top job related strengths.


  1. Look at the application and review the salary range at their previous or current employment.  This will give you an idea if they are in or out of your pay range, and the opportunity for them to give a desired amount.  They should not ask up front what the pay is for the job.  It shows impatience.  You should provide the opportunity.


  1. Ask a couple of questions to see if there might be some potential conflict or attitude issues down the road.  Ask, “Who was their favorite manager and why?” then ask, “who was their least favorite manager and why?”  The second question is the trick question.  You can get some valuable information from a person who you might suspect as dubious.  Listen for the negatives that could end up haunting you, if you hired the person.


  1. Ask what they liked the most about their last job.  The type of answers you want, relates to learning, growth, respect, and loyalty.  If you get answers pertaining to non-job related duties, such as making a lot of friends, or got to go home early when it was slow, you might have more of a social butterfly who is not focused on the true meaning of a job.


  1. Ask what they least liked about their last job.  If you get complaints that are related to the day-to-day running of a business, you might have someone who doesn’t like structure.  You want comments that are more justifiable like, "A lack of structure or direction."  You might not get a negative comment at all, which is ok.


  1. Ask about the best praise or recognition they’ve received and what made it so good.


  1. Ask about their greatest strengths and weaknesses.  To help determine strengths, ask them about their best day in the past year and what were they doing and why they liked it so much.  To help determine weakness, the same applies for their worst day and why they disliked it so much.  This is a bit of an uncomfortable question to answer, but it can determine the overly confident from the sheepish person.  There might be some great value for you to learn in both the strengths and weaknesses on how they answer this question.


  1. Ask what is the best way they learn and when in their career did they learn the most and why.  This can help you determine how best to train this person if you hire them.


  1. Can they multitask and perform well under pressure?  Give a few different scenarios related to the position.  For example, there is an outage that is affecting customers, and the lines are ringing off the hook.  Customers are on hold for a long period of time even adding to their frustration, and you still need to enter the notes from the previous call.  Should you quickly take care of the customer to get to the next call?  Should you let the customer know that you have been inundated with calls and that you are doing the best that you can?   The answers to these types of questions can give you insight on how well they handle stress.  You should also ask the interviewee about a couple of stressful times they’ve had in previous jobs.  If they answer that they have never had any type of work related stress, then they are most likely lying or never had that type of position.


  1. Are they a team player and will they fit in?  You have to think about the rest of the team and determine if this person will benefit or hurt the team spirit and production.


  1. What makes them feel they are more qualified than the next person?  This is a hard question to answer.  They will worry if they come off as too confident or too humble.  But you can still get some valuable insight from the answer to the question.  If they say something like, “I’m the right person because I know the type of idiots who are out there,” then you know you’ve got trouble.  If they come across as unsure about themselves, you’ve also got trouble.  You want someone who feels comfortable enough to answer the question with a simple but clear statement like, “The best way I can answer this question is to tell you that I really love doing this type of work and will not disappoint you.”  The answer might be rehearsed, but it is still worth a try.


  1. If you have a company website with your product line, you can ask them if they went to the website before the interview.  If they did and answered some questions based on information from the website, you know you have someone who is ready to take the initiative to learn.  If they didn’t go to the website, it shows that they weren’t even willing to take the time to do their homework for the job they are seeking.  Unless they state that they do not have an Internet connection or are not computer savvy, there is no reason why they couldn’t have visited the website.




If applicable, also have them perform a quick typing test to show speed, spelling and use of grammar. 


Be sure to find out what shifts and possible hours they can work.  Also, if they are going to be working a swing or graveyard shift, make sure you have them on a normal shift for the first few months so they can get all of the training and support they need.  You do not want to throw them into the deep end with little to no support.


Don’t be surprised if you get questions asked from the interviewee.  Depending on the question, this is not a bad thing and it shows they have a true interest in the company and where it is going.   Be careful not to mislead, or give job security type of comments or commitments.  Tell them that a decision will not be made until all applicants have been interviewed.  When in doubt, have them talk to HR for all benefit, and salary type of questions.  This includes how and when they will be notified if they got the job. 


If they ask questions that show more interest in not working than working, you should be concerned.  Here are a couple of questions that if asked, should be considered dubious:


  • When can they take a vacation and for how long?
  • Will they get paid if they take off the day before or day after a holiday?
  • Is working overtime mandatory?
  • Is working on the weekends mandatory? 
  • Can they only work the hours that are required?
  • If it is slow, can they leave early?
  • When will they be promoted?
  • How long do they have to work in your department before they can transfer to another department?
  • When will they get a raise?
  • How late can they be before it is considered a tardy?


If they are asking these types of questions now, who knows what they will be asking in the future. 


Use your time wisely, however, try and ask questions that give the applicant a chance to talk about their experience and skills, rather than asking only yes or no type of questions.  You want to ask as many open ended questions as you can.  It gives you a chance to see how well they know the subject at hand, and gives them a chance to relax a bit. 


Let them do most of the talking during the interview.  Many managers talk too much and come across as intimidating or bragging.  You can also learn a lot about someone on how they react during uncomfortable silence.  Do not jump in and try to finish their sentence.  You should also find some common interests to break the ice, just make sure you do not cross any possible discriminatory lines.


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