6 key interview questions (and what not to ask!)

6 key interview questions (and what not to ask!)

A job interview is your most critical tool in assessing whether or not the candidate is the right fit for your organisation.

Talk is not cheap if your interview technique fails to result in the right person in the right job.

Remember, every interview question you ask can determine whether the candidate is the right person for the job, so don’t waste a question!

What to ask

Here are six key questions to ask in an interview that should enable candidates to reveal who they really are:

  1. “Why are you changing jobs?” Be wary of candidates who bad-mouth a past employer.
  2. “What did you like about your last job?” A candidate who can’t answer this is probably incapable of thinking beyond the basic mechanics of the job.
  3. “If you could have made improvements in your last job, what would they have been?” This should give you an idea of the candidate’s lateral thinking capabilities and reveal their general attitude.
  4. “Describe the qualities of someone who you’ve worked with that you admire.” This will give you an insight into what the candidate may strive to be like.
  5. “What kinds of people annoy you most?” Often candidates will cite character traits that do not apply to themselves.
  6. “Describe an ‘emergency’ situation in a previous job when you have had to reschedule your time.” This is a way of finding out if the candidate would be willing to work extra hours if needed.

Discover more job interview tips

…and what definitely not to ask

Interviewing techniques have evolved over time and in many ways have changed due to social developments in and out of the workplace. Always be mindful of the questions you ask a candidate.

Indeed anything referring to gender, religious beliefs, age or sexual orientation are all to be avoided. We list below the type of questions which once were deemed acceptable to ask, and are now definite no-no’s!

  • Are you married?
  • Are you planning on having children?
  • How old are you?
  • What is your religion?

Interviews are two-way exchanges; remember that what you ask (and don’t ask!), how you ask it and how you respond to any questions the candidate has around the role and company may impact how the interview transpires. The best interviews are always open, honest exchanges where both parties leave knowing all that they need to.

For more information, read our article on Interview questions you can't legally ask.

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