The Best (and Worst) Questions to Ask During a Job Interview

Well-thought-out questions are the key to finding well-qualified job candidates. The right interview questions will help uncover insights about applicants that can’t be gleaned from a resume, including professionalism, confidence, problem-solving skills, and more!

The Best Job Interview Questions

While behavioural interview questions, salary questions, and basic questions like “what’s your greatest strength/weakness?” certainly have a place during the recruitment process, try to think outside the box. Consider asking these questions during your next interview.

What’s your definition of hard work?

Everyone is different; what some people can accomplish in an hour takes others an entire day to complete. This question helps you understand whether or not candidates will be able to keep pace with what’s expected of the successful applicant.

What excites you most about this position?

Has the applicant taken time to research the company before the interview? What are their motivations for applying? How does this job align with their larger career aspirations? Asking why they want to work for you will help uncover answers to these questions as well.

What kind of work would you be happy doing every day for the rest of your career?

This question helps recruiters understand the type of work each candidate enjoys, and whether or not their preferred work style aligns with the position. Happy employees are the ones who work hardest and stay the longest. That’s why it’s so important for recruiters to match applicants with roles that best suit them—and sometimes that’s not the position for which you’re interviewing.

What’s your most significant career accomplishment?

This practical question helps uncover each applicant’s level of ambition and what they consider a success. Whether it’s an award, a certification, or a big project that went exceptionally well, hire a motivated person who clearly takes pride in their work.

Do you have any questions for me?

While it’s not uncommon for candidates to ask questions throughout the interview, this is a great last question because it often points to what interests the candidate most. For example, are they asking about your company culture, or are they more concerned with compensation? These questions can be telling.

This is not an exhaustive list of interview questions by any means. Just be sure you do not ask questions relating to any of the below topics. Even if the intention behind your questions is seemingly harmless, when you solicit certain information, you risk discriminating against candidates without just cause. If pre-employment discrimination is suspected, the recruiter and/or company may face steep consequences such as a costly lawsuit or a damaged brand reputation.

Off-limit Topics at Job Interviews

Race and Citizenship

Anything related to race, colour, place of origin/ethnic origin or citizenship is off-limits. Questions like ‘What country are you from?’ have absolutely no bearing on a person’s ability to do the job. The only question that may be appropriate is: ‘Are you authorised to work in this country?’

Sex, Gender and Orientation

Sex, gender and sexual orientation are as unrelated to a person’s ability to perform the duties of a job as the colour of someone’s skin or where they were born. Describe the job, then ask the candidate if they can perform all of the functions. It’s that simple.

Religion

Religion is another topic to avoid during interviews—and in the workplace entirely. Unlawful questions include ‘Do you go to church?’ and ‘What religious holidays will you need off?’ Even asking questions about weekend work such as could be seen as a religious proxy question. Instead, ask questions like: ‘Are there shifts you cannot work?’

Age

With the exception of cases where age is a legal requirement (such as working in a bar), recruiters can’t ask any questions related to an applicant’s age. Some young applicants show tremendous promise and some older applicants still have lots of time left in their careers—and plenty of practical experience. Age shouldn’t be a factor in making hiring decisions.

Disabilities

‘Do you have a disability?’ ‘Have you ever filed a worker’s compensation claim?’ Neither of these questions is appropriate during an interview. Describe the duties of the job and ask if the candidate can perform them. If they can, they may be qualified and should, therefore, be considered for the position.

 Family Status

 Questions about relationship status, children and family/home life should be avoided. Do not ask if the candidate is married or single, or if they have any kids (or the ages of their children). In the same vein, you cannot ask women if they are pregnant or if they’re trying to (or would want to) have a family. Even if a candidate looks pregnant, it is never acceptable to ask questions about this subject.

To summarise, make sure your interview questions relate to a person’s qualifications for the job. It’s best to save the small talk and personal questions until after an individual is hired. Ask all applicants the same questions regardless of gender, race, age or any other factor that does not relate to job performance.

Need help perfecting your interview questions? VidCruiter’s structured digital interview questions can help you reduce bias during the recruitment process while improving the quality of your hires.

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