5 Questions You Should Ask in Every Job Interview

October 2, 2015

Job interviews are important conversations. Within an hour, you have to determine if the person in front of you is worth a substantial investment; where a great choice can add jet fuel to your organization, whereas a bad one can hamper it.

So what should you ask in that interview? Well, we looked to Quora, where recruiters and hiring managers were asked what is the one question they ask in every job interview to help determine if they should hire the person.

Here’s what they said:

1. Can you give me an example of how you keep up with the industry?

Shared by Travis Truman

I'm looking for blogs they read, folks they follow on Twitter, conferences they've attended, open source projects they work on, etc.

The answer gives me a feel for the candidate's curiosity and desire to continue learning, interests apart from work experience and how they value the knowledge and experiences of the broader community in building their skills and network.

2. Can you tell me about the most exciting project you ever worked on?

Shared by Grzegorz Jakacki

This gives me insight into several things:

  • Communication - Can they explain the project to me in simple terms?
  • Teamwork - How were they working with or reaching to others to achieve the goal?
  • Motivation - Are they enthusiastic about the most exciting project in their life? if not, then they won't be enthusiastic about any other project.
  • Expertise - If I am familiar with the domain, I can judge whether the challenges they described were actually difficult.

3. Who is your hero and why?

Shared by Adam Barker

This gives insight into both what the candidate values in their life and who they are seeking to become. If their heroes’ values match your company’s core values, there’s a good chance they’ll be a great cultural fit. If not, perhaps it is time to look elsewhere.

4. If you could change one thing on your resume, what would it be and why?

Shared by Tommy Thornton

Most people are taken aback by this question. They take a few moments to answer and will generally say something about more education, should have quit a job earlier, etc. 

The answer tells me a lot about what they perceive as their own weaknesses, career regrets and shortcomings.

5. Instead of another question, have them complete a task

Shared by Alek Mirkovich

The best way to interview people is to stop asking questions. I found myself asking questions and then trying to determine how honest they were being and constantly reading between the lines until I decided to stop asking questions and start assigning small tasks. I was amazed at the results.

An example is I was recently looking for an administrative assistant and created six tasks specifically designed around the role. I explained that the interview process was the six tasks on the sheet of paper and that they would use the computer to do them and simply knock on the door when they were complete. 

Among the criteria, I really needed someone who could complete tasks under minimal supervision. If I simply asked “Can you work independently,” all would likely say yes. But, instead the last task was to email a specific file in a specific folder to my email, which was also provided. The catch was that I purposefully misplaced the file to see who would be resourceful enough to do a simple search for the file.

Out of 15 people only three found this file, which made the shortlist a lot simpler.
Why talk about doing? Why not just do? This may not work for every role, but a practical component like this can help you determine things in a way that questions simply can't.

What is your favorite interview question? Share it at @HireOnLinkedin.

*Image by Canary Pete