6 Questions to Ask at a Recruitment Interview

Recruitment interview questionsInterviewing people and uncovering the information you need to make an informed recruitment decision is not easy. An effective selection interview helps you to objectively assess each candidate’s competency, skills and motivations and so make better hiring decisions.

Managers report that it is getting ever harder to find exactly the right person for the job. The selection interview is, therefore, an important part of the recruitment process. The starting point, as with any management task, is careful planning and preparation.

You need to ensure that you fully understanding the requirements of the job you are recruiting for as this helps ensure that your selection interviews are goal-oriented.

The quality of the questions that you then ask during the interview and the interpretation of the responses you get to these questions is the key to an effective selection interview.

The questions you need to ask should, therefore, also be prepared before the interview. There are many books and articles on selection interview questions, so here we focus on a few questions that could be used specifically to uncover an applicant’s aspirations, priorities and goals. You need to find these out as your aim in recruitment is to ensure a match between these and the actual job you are recruiting for.

Each job applicant, whilst they may have similar CVs, will be different. Some applicants will be looking for a job that challenges them and allows room for them to make decisions whilst others may be looking for a less challenging job with more direction provided by the manager. Both types could be either the perfect match or a dreadful mistake – depending on the job!

Assessing compatibility and making a good assessment depends on you getting concrete, specific and reliable information during the interview process.

Here are six interview questions, whose aim is to help you assess compatibility:

Question 1: “What do you think an organisation owes its employees?"
The purpose of this question is to force the applicant to think laterally. The question is unexpected and the applicant’s reactions and responses to the question are therefore likely to be revealing.

There are many possible answers that the applicant could give, including: promotion, career prospects, training, interesting or challenging work, tangible recognition for good performance, responsibility and the ability to make decisions, a good work-life balance, pension or other employee “benefits”, fairness, feedback and good remuneration. Whilst all of these expectations are legitimate the answers need to be those which the job/your company can meet.

Question 2: “What do you expect/is most important for you from this job?
The purpose of this question is to uncover information on the applicant’s expectations, motivation, priorities and values so you can check if these match what the company/job offers.

Again there can be many reasons provided in answer to this question, including: the challenge, the opportunity to learn something new, wanting to use newly acquired qualifications into practice or wanting to be part of a dynamic industry.

However, by listening carefully to the responses you get and probing deeper with “why” type questions you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • Are the job expectations of this candidate clear and specific or are they vague and undifferentiated?
  • Is their answer logical and coherent – giving a direct correlation between their reason for applying and the actual job?
  • Have they thought about their own qualifications and researched the company/position so these are matched to the job requirements?
  • Is the applicant’s self-image realistic or too confident? Have they overestimated their ability?


Question 3: “What attracts you most about this particular job?
The emphasise here is on the word “most”. This question is designed to separate special interests the applicant may have from general ones. The response will also help you to judge how much time the applicant has spent analysing the job and its requirements.

The response will also reflect the areas in which the applicant will show the most commitment and motivation so listen carefully!

Question 4: “It’s not unusual for people to want to develop in a new job. If that is true for you, in which areas would this be?"
This question not only finds out if self-development is important to the applicant it also reveals which areas of development are most important to them. There are many possible answers, but the principle remains that if the company cannot fulfill these expectations then there is a poor long term match.

Question 5: “What would you like to know about our organisation?
The purpose of this question is to check how prepared the applicant is and draw conclusions on their focus and ambitions. Things to look out for in the answers include:

  • Were their questions already answered in the job advertisement/on the company website?
  • What sort of questions are they?
  • What do their questions reveal about their interests, motivations and expectations>


Question 6: “If you could design the perfect job for yourself describe what would it look like?"
This question helps you to find out whether the candidate has thought about their career path, what their work preferences are, what plans they have and which basic values play a part in their motivation (e.g. success, security, freedom, creativity etc.) The applicant who know their needs, their expectations and what is really important for them in a job, is often performance-focused and ambitious.

By checking the answers candidates give to these six recruitment questions are aligned with the actual job you are recruiting for you will help to ensure that you are recruiting the best person.

Getting good at asking the right questions in an interview requires practice. We offer in-company recruitment training for managers as well as recruitment training course materials that your own internal trainers can use.