When you have a vacancy in your company, you want to fill it as quickly as possible. Sometimes you can get what feels like an endless amount of candidates, and once those have been whittled down to the few worth interviewing, the hard part really begins.

There is as much pressure on you during an interview as there is on the potential employee, because making the wrong decision can negatively affect your company. You need someone that will consistently produce a high quality of work, but who also immerses themselves quickly with other members of staff and becomes a vital part of the team. The best way to find a candidate to fit such criteria is to ask them the right questions.

Depending on how many times you’ve been through the interview process before, you may already have a set list of questions that you like to reuse. These can be pretty effective because the more interviews you’ve carried out, the better understanding you’ll have about how previously successful candidates answered those questions in the past. If you don’t already have some examples in place then it’s not a problem because we’ve found a great list of questions for you to use for future applicants.

Start off by finding out why they applied for the job and, if relevant, why they’re leaving their current employer. These questions will give you an understanding of what it is about your vacancy that appeals to the candidate, as well as whether their move to your company is motivated by positive or negative experiences in the past. Their answers will normally dictate whether it’s the job and the challenges it poses that excites them or just the incentives it provides.

From here, try to learn more about what skills they can bring to your company and how they develop them outside of the workplace. Asking this will tell you what the candidate can bring to your company – and whether they took the time to learn about what you do – but also if they try to improve their knowledge and skills in their own time or rely on you to provide such opportunities for development. A self-driven individual who strives to succeed in their job is the person you want working for you.

You want to get a good grasp on what a candidate’s work experience has been like in the past. This doesn’t mean where they worked or for how long, but rather examples of things like what their greatest achievement was and how they overcame any major obstacles on the job. Questions like this demonstrate the applicant’s strengths and give an idea of how they might perform under stress when things don’t go as planned. It also shows what they consider to be achievements and obstacles in the workplace. This is an insight that could suggest they’d either struggle or thrive when dealing with big problems.

It’s important to know how well prospective employees will work with your company culture which is why you should ask them what kind of working environment they’d be most productive in/feel most comfortable. Skills and experience aren’t everything in the workplace, and no matter how strong a candidate is on paper, they might not always be the best fit for your company. For example, someone who doesn’t work well in collaborative spaces might struggle if that’s how a lot of projects are done in the office. You don’t want new employees to leave after a few months because the environment isn’t right for them, so make sure to check this beforehand.

Finish up by finding out how the candidate believes their current employer and colleagues view them. This should give you an idea of how valuable they believe they are and whether their opinions match references that you might later receive if the applicant is successful. People don’t always like to big themselves up but it’s important for a candidate to have some confidence if they’re going to be part of your company, and these questions can highlight that.

These are just a sample of what you should ask during the interview process and there are plenty more that you can use which are might be more relevant to your own company/industry. The main thing to take away from this is that there’s a lot you need to learn about every candidate during their interview to get the best picture of how they’d perform if you gave them the job.

James Darvill

James is a passionate scriptwriter and reluctant poet with a talent for the dystopian. When he’s not staying up late watching the Simpsons he’s beating the world at Mario Kart, always with a glass of wine in hand.
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