When it comes to costly workplace mistakes, few carry as hefty of a price tag as making a wrong hire. According to a CareerBuilder survey, companies lost an average of $14,900 on every bad hire within the last year. It sadly is a common mistake, with nearly three in four employers saying they have hired the wrong person for a position.
As the interviewer, it’s crucial that you have a clear understanding of the skills, experience, and characteristics you desire in a candidate. Using strategic questions to uncover a candidate’s relevant experiences and behaviors will help you gain valuable insights into their qualifications and suitability for the role.
Strategic interview questions to ask candidates should include a mix of different types to understand your candidate’s work experience, personality, values, and technical aptitude. We put together a list of the best interview questions to ask candidates in 2023, plus an explanation of why each question will help you make the most effective hiring decision. Hiring for technical positions can be, well, highly technical. We help companies hire the right employees for their company culture. PSM Partners is an expert in IT Staffing in the Chicago, IL area.
Preparing for an Interview
To make sure you are asking the right questions in an interview, think about the goals you are trying to achieve. There are several key factors that will ensure that a candidate is the right fit for the role and the organization. Here are some important things to look for:
Skills and experience: Look for candidates who have the necessary skills and experience to perform the job duties effectively. Consider the level of experience required for the role and look for evidence of the candidate’s ability to succeed in similar positions.
Cultural fit: Consider the candidate’s values, work style, and personality to ensure that they will fit in with the company culture. Look for candidates who share the organization’s values and mission and who will work well with the team.
Problem-solving abilities: Look for candidates who can think creatively and solve problems efficiently. Consider how they have handled challenges in the past and their ability to adapt to changing situations.
Communication skills: Effective communication is essential in any role. Look for candidates who can communicate clearly and concisely, both verbally and written.
Motivation and passion: Look for candidates who are passionate about their role and the industry. They should be motivated to excel in the role and committed to contributing to the company’s success.
Teamwork and collaboration: Many roles require working closely with others. Look for candidates who can work effectively in a team and who are willing to collaborate to achieve common goals.
Adaptability and flexibility: In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing work environment, it’s important to look for candidates who can adapt to change and are willing to take on new challenges.
It’s important to keep in mind that candidates often come prepared with rehearsed answers to common interview questions. To gain more authentic responses, incorporating unique questions that catch them off guard can be beneficial. However, it’s crucial to avoid trick questions that may make them feel uncomfortable or flustered. Instead, aim for questions that encourage candid responses, even if they need time to think before answering.
Once you have an idea of the ideal candidate for the role at hand, think about what question you need to ask. After reviewing the candidate’s resume and any other information they have provided, you can craft recruitment questions that are tailored to their experiences and skills. Consider asking questions that delve into any unique experiences they may have had or specific skills that you are interested in learning more about.
For example, if a candidate has experience as a Soccer Coach, you can inquire about their perspective on the most challenging and rewarding aspects of this role. Furthermore, you can explore how their acquired skills as a Soccer Coach can contribute to their success in the position you are considering them for.
This approach can help you gain a deeper understanding of the candidate’s personality, abilities, and qualifications for the position. After crafting a few good interview questions specific to that candidate, you want to ask some general interview questions that will help you assess any candidate, for any role.
Here is a list of some of the best strategic interview questions to ask candidates.
These questions are designed to help you get a sense of the candidate’s work experience, skills, and personality.
- What is something about you that is not on your resume? Asking this question can provide valuable insights into a candidate’s personality, as there are countless ways for them to respond. For instance, they might discuss a previous job or internship that might not be directly related to the position but explain how it aided in their personal and professional development. Alternatively, they may share a personal interest, allowing you to gauge their communication style and demeanor when discussing a topic, they’re passionate about. Regardless of their answer, this strategic interview question can help you better understand the candidate.
- Can you tell me about a time when you had to work under pressure? This question helps you assess the candidate’s ability to handle stress and meet deadlines. Look for answers that demonstrate the candidate’s ability to stay calm, think creatively, and work collaboratively under pressure.
- How do you stay up-to-date with industry trends and developments? This question helps you gauge the candidate’s level of curiosity and interest in their field. Look for answers that show the candidate is proactive about staying current and learning new skills.
- Tell me about a time when you made a mistake at work. How did you handle the situation? This is a strategic question to ask candidates because everyone makes mistakes. How people handle those mistakes, however, differs from person to person. Nevertheless, individuals react to them distinctively. It’s crucial to pay attention to the candidate’s response. Do they take responsibility for the error, or do they shift the blame to others? Have they gained any valuable insights from the mistake, and how have they prevented it from happening again?
- Can you tell me about a time when you had to solve a complex problem? This question helps you evaluate the candidate’s problem-solving abilities. Look for answers that demonstrate the candidate’s ability to break down complex problems, analyze data, and develop creative solutions.
- How do you handle conflicts with colleagues or supervisors? This question helps you assess the candidate’s interpersonal skills and ability to work in a team. Look for answers that demonstrate the candidate’s ability to communicate effectively, listen actively, and find mutually acceptable solutions.
- What motivates you to do your best work? This question helps you understand the candidate’s values and what drives them. Look for answers that show the candidate is motivated by challenges, learning opportunities, and a sense of purpose. It’s especially great when a candidate is motivated the same way as other team members they will be working with.
- Have you ever faced a situation where you had to work with limited resources or within a tight budget? How did you handle it, and what was the outcome? Asking this question can help you assess the candidate’s resourcefulness and creativity when it comes to problem-solving. It can also give you insight into their ability to manage priorities and work under pressure.
These questions are designed to help you assess the candidate’s fit with your organization’s culture and values.
- Can you describe your ideal work environment? This question helps you understand the candidate’s work preferences and whether they align with your organization’s culture. Look for answers that show the candidate values collaboration, communication, and a positive work environment.
- How do you handle feedback from supervisors or colleagues? This question helps you assess the candidate’s openness to feedback and ability to learn from it. Look for answers that demonstrate the candidate is receptive to constructive criticism, values different perspectives, and uses feedback to improve.
- Can you give an example of a time when you had to adapt to a new environment or process? This question helps you evaluate the candidate’s flexibility and adaptability. Look for answers that show the candidate is comfortable with change, can learn quickly, and can adjust to new situations.
- How do you handle difficult conversations or situations? This question helps you assess the candidate’s conflict resolution skills and emotional intelligence. Look for answers that demonstrate the candidate can communicate effectively, manage emotions, and find solutions that meet everyone’s needs.
- Can you tell me about a time when you went above and beyond in your work? This question helps you understand the candidate’s work ethic and commitment to excellence. Look for answers that show the candidate is willing to take on challenges, take initiative, and deliver results.
- What are your goals for self-improvement this year? Asking this question can provide insights into their openness to growth and personal development. Their response can reveal their ability to set achievable goals and their level of interest in advancing their career. The candidate’s answer may include specific targets, such as achieving a leadership position or acquiring new skills. Understanding their aspirations can help determine their potential fit with your company’s culture and goals.
- Why do you want to work for this company? This question can help determine the candidate’s level of interest in the specific job and the company, as well as their understanding of the company’s mission, values, and culture. It also shows whether the candidate has thought about how their skills and experience align with the requirements of the position and how they can contribute to the company’s success.
These questions are designed to help you assess the candidate’s technical skills and experience.
- What technical skills do you possess that make you a good fit for this role? This question helps you assess the candidate’s self-awareness of their technical skills, and whether those skills align with the requirements of the position.
- How do you keep up-to-date with emerging technologies and industry trends? Can you give an example of a technology or trend that you’ve recently learned about, and how you’ve incorporated it into your work? This question helps you assess the candidate’s level of curiosity, motivation, and commitment to continuous learning and improvement, which are crucial traits for success in a fast-paced technical environment.
- Can you give me an example of a complex technical problem you solved, and how you went about solving it? This question allows you to assess the candidate’s problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and ability to work under pressure. It also gives you insight into the candidate’s technical approach and methodology.
- What are some of the biggest technical challenges you’ve faced in your previous roles, and how did you overcome them? This question helps you evaluate the candidate’s adaptability, resilience, and creativity when faced with difficult technical challenges. It also gives you insight into the candidate’s problem-solving skills and technical acumen.
- Can you walk me through your experience with [specific technology or area of work] and methodologies (e.g., HubSpot, Project Management, etc.)? Asking this question can help you assess the candidate’s familiarity with specific methodologies and tools. It can also give you insight into their ability to adapt to different methodologies and their preference for working in different environments.
Wrap up the Interview
Is there anything else you’d like to discuss or clarify before we conclude the interview?
Asking this question allows the candidate to raise any remaining concerns or questions they may have about the role, the company, or the interview process. It also shows that you value their input and want to ensure that they have all the information they need to make an informed decision. Additionally, it may help you identify any potential issues or misunderstandings that can be addressed before the interview concludes.
Need Help Finding the Perfect Candidate? Work with a Local Staffing Agency!
If you need assistance with candidate screening or interview preparation, PSM Partners is available to help. Utilizing the services of staffing agencies grants you access to a vast array of potential candidates, enabling you to locate the most suitable match for your organization. If you’re having difficulty finding the perfect candidate independently, partnering with a staffing agency can prove to be a valuable investment of both your time and effort. Simply fill out a contact form, and we will be in touch.
Learn more about staffing agencies.
Interviews can be challenging for both job candidates and hiring managers. Candidates often feel anxious about securing a desirable job, while hiring managers feel pressure about finding the ideal candidate for the role. However, with thorough preparation, this stress can be alleviated. By incorporating strategic interview questions into your hiring process, you can gain valuable insights into a candidate’s skills, experience, and characteristics to ensure they are the right fit for the role and the organization. Use the list of strategic interview questions provided to assess a candidate’s work experience, skills, and personality.