15 Interview Questions to Ensure Candidate Quality

Interviewing a candidate for an open position seems like it would be an easy job. Using your job description and their resume as guides, you ask a few simple questions and are ready to make a hiring decision. But interviewing in today’s competitive job market is not so simple.

Today, interviewing candidates is often done remotely, even virtually, and the assessment includes criteria far beyond simple work experience and education. As a recruiter or hiring manager, you must assess their personality and maturity level, ability to mesh with your workplace’s culture, and behavior and self-awareness.

Asking the right questions during the interview, including broader questions that divert from industry and expertise questions, will provide a clearer picture of how the candidate will fit with your team.

Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

The first group of questions allows the candidate to talk about themselves a bit, including exciting and unique insight into who they are, how they view their life and accomplishments or perceived failures, and how they deal with conflict:

1. Tell me something about yourself that others may be surprised to learn about.

This question gives the candidate a chance to talk about themselves a bit and reveal elements of experience or soft skills that may be relevant for the position.

2. If there were something in your past you could go back and change, what would that be and why?

Another excellent opportunity for the candidate to reveal experience and skills from their past that will benefit the job, as well as reveal elements of character.

3. Tell me about a time you had problems working with a colleague. What was the challenge, and how did you deal with it?

Understanding how a candidate handles problems at work and with coworkers reveals character, disposition, problem-solving abilities, and coping skills.

While experience and skills do not stand alone when it comes to vetting a candidate, how candidates handle situations using those skills is essential. The following questions focus on how the candidate used skills to succeed and how they have handled failure despite their skill:

4. Tell me a “war story” about how you handled a situation using your [skill].

The answer to this question provides much insight into how a candidate used a particular skill and gives you a chance to evaluate their communication ability.

5. Tell me your most significant professional success and how [skill] helped you achieve it.

This is a great question to ask early in the interview, as it can set a candidate at ease and fuel follow-up questions later.

6. What was your biggest failure involving [skill]?

This question concerns self-awareness and how they learned and grew after a negative experience.

7. What is your ideal role and why?

This gives the candidate a chance to share their technical and soft skills and gives you an appreciation of what they view as an ideal position. Their answer can tell you a lot about how closely the candidate is aligned with the details of the position.

How a candidate handles adversity and complex workplace relationships are the goal of these questions:

8. What specific development area have you had to overcome for your career?

Another chance to learn how the candidate handles obstacles and deals with self-actualization and self-realization.

9. Describe your favorite and least favorite supervisor – and why.

This provides the candidate with an opportunity to give insight into how they like to be managed and communicated with, as well as insight into their attitude and maturity when interacting with coworkers and supervisors.

These questions provide further insight into where the candidate excels, how an organization can best meet their needs, and what they are looking for in the position:

10. How did you end up in your current role?

11. What are two of your most rewarding achievements in your career? Tell me about both of them.

12. Describe your work experience and accomplishments and how they relate to the work in this position.

13. What is most interesting to you about this position?

14. What challenges do you see affecting the industry in the future?


Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this simple question gives insight into how well the candidate prepared for the interview, their level of initiative, and whether their interest goes beyond themselves and embraces the overall relationship within and among the company:

15. Do you have any questions for me?


The more substantive the answers are to all of the above questions, the better for the candidate and their prospects within the company.


Your interview questions speak to your company’s brand and culture in a vital way and are a front-line tool for evaluating candidates for a position. Utilizing broader, more profound questions like those above will give you a more comprehensive picture of the candidate, how they work, and whether they will be a good fit with your team in this role both now and in the future.

Ready to embrace the future of work and a new approach to hiring top-notch talent? Email Andrew Stephens, Director of Sales and Business Development for Vector Talent, today to get started!

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