What questions should you ask a potential employee in an interview? [Tech]

Wednesday, October 26, 2016 10:19

Katherine Hockley by Katherine Hockley

Conducting an interview can be a daunting task, and asking the right questions can make all the difference when it comes to finding the best candidate for your company.

So, what questions should you ask a potential employee? We spoke to Mat Rodger, Managing Director of Triggertrap, for his tips and advice on questioning techniques and how to get the best out of your interviewee. 


Are there essential questions you ask everyone, regardless of the role? 

  1. I don’t think there are any single questions I always ask – though I regularly like to focus on what specifically in their job experience makes them a great fit for this job. So: “What specific piece of experience do you think makes you perfect for this?”

  2. It’s a cliché, but I like get an example of a time when they either had to make a difficult decision or did something really well. Asking for examples gets people thinking on their feet.

  3. I also like to ask a few questions around the industry, like who they think is doing great work in our field, or in the field they’re applying for. So, for example, I’d ask a prospective social media manager who they thought was awesome on Twitter at the moment, or who is really wasting opportunities on Instagram, for example (and then for them to say why).

How do you come up with your list of questions

I always think about the ideal candidate first, but also for questions that will tell me a little more about the person beyond what’s on paper. Usually if the person is smart they can do most jobs (particularly at entry level) – what I want to see is their personality and whether they’d be a good fit for the company.

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What questions shouldn’t you ask potential employees? 

I try to avoid pointless questions. There are loads of clichés and Oxbridge-style “trick questions” that only tell you how good someone is in interviews, not how good they’d be at the job. Similarly, if they have some irrelevant work experience or training, I won’t ask about it just for the sake of thoroughly examining their CV.

What personal questions should you ask about them? 

I think constantly interrogating why they’re applying brings out interesting stuff. Why do you want to do this, and why do you want to do this are hugely illuminating. I’m naturally drawn to people who have an interesting reason for choosing their career path, or who might have fallen into a job but learned something about themselves in the process.

If your interviewee is shy, how do you get them to expand on their answers? If they’re too chatty and go off on a tangent, how do you get them to answer more directly?

 I think being honest is important here. I’d flatly ask someone to expand on a subject with a “go on” or “tell me more about that”. I’m not too worried about someone talking a lot (rather it that way), but then there’s no one so offputting in an interview as the person who talks constantly without really saying anything.


Any other tips you have for hiring managers out there?

Mostly it’s gut feeling. You’ll know fairly early on if you can imagine working with someone or not. It’s like going on a first date – you’ve probably made your decision about whether you fancy them in the first 30 seconds.

Also (and I had to learn this quickly) remember that you are in charge of the conversation. It’s a powerful position to be in and you should use that to make yourself more comfortable. Act relaxed and you’ll find yourself having more fun!


Posted in Recruitment, Careers and Training