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  • Writer's pictureRoss Owen

Great Questions to ask at interview

How many pound coins would you need to stack to reach the height of The Shard? How many ping-pong balls fit in a London Taxi? How do you weigh an elephant without using a scale? These questions asked by real companies—the ping-pong one is Google by the way. Whilst these might be able to help identify someone’s critical thinking skills (or at least provide some comic relief in a job interview), they aren’t optimal for uncovering the candidate’s capabilities, values, personality, and, most importantly, whether they’ll be a good fit for your workplace. And that’s your ultimate goal when you’re the one making the hiring decision: You want to pick someone who will not only help the company succeed, but will thrive in the role.

Job Interview
Interview Questions

What are your career goals?

“This is one of the first questions you should ask because you’ll need to make sure the available position aligns with what the candidate actually wants to be doing long-term,”

How do you deal with page-long To Do Lists?

When you have a multiple page to-do list (don’t we all?), you have to be good at prioritisation. “Asking this question helps the hiring manager understand how comfortable the candidate is with competing priorities and if their strategy for handling them lines up with what the hiring manager is looking for in an employee,”

Tell me about a time that you stepped up to do something outside of your job description that needed to be done.

We’ve all had to do some grunt work or pick up some extra responsibilities when someone is out of the office. It’s beneficial to hire someone who gets that and doesn’t think “not my job” as they walk away from the jammed printer. This question shows if the candidate is willing to go beyond their specific job description for the greater good of the team or the company or not.

What’s the biggest project you worked on that didn’t turn out so well?

Everyone makes mistakes…but not everyone handles them well. The very best A-players are accountable, are happy to take responsibility for the results they have achieved. When a project doesn’t turn out so well, they will very often use the experience as a learning opportunity. This question allows the candidate to give honest self-reflection and gauges their growth mindset. Ideally you want a candidate who can explain what the mistake was, how they fixed it, and what they learned from it. After all failure can be a good teacher sometimes.

What’s the last thing you taught yourself to do?

The best employees are curious by nature and always want to learn new things. This is one of the most valuable skills any team member can have. Try asking how they learned the skill the setbacks they encountered, and how they would teach someone else to do it. Learning new things shows that the candidate is driven and focused on self-improvement. And as an added bonus: You might learn a little more about their personal life without having to ask about what they do “outside the office.”

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