Top 5 Interview Questions to Engage the Candidate


When interviewing, it is important to do more than “scratch the surface” to understand the candidate and his or her true intentions for job seeking.  Refrain from asking questions that will yield a one word response and consider thought provoking interview questions to encourage candidate dialogue. Here are five examples of interview questions that will engage the candidate to aid in hiring decisions:

  1. Tell me what you know about our company and the position.

This will show the depth of a candidate’s ability to prepare, their interest in your company vs just landing a job, and will test the candidate’s true understanding of the job.

  1. Why did you leave your previous positions?

It is important to find out why a candidate left every recent job. This will allow a hiring manager to deduce a candidate’s work ethic, ethical behavior, and perseverance. It is amazing how often candidates will say they left a position without accepting another job offer because there was not growth potential. This is a “smoke screen” as being unemployed offers limited ability for growth.  Dig a little deeper to try to uncover the real reason their past jobs were not a long-term fit.

  1. Give me a percentage breakdown of how much time is spent on each duty listed on your resume.

This will help give an employer an accurate depiction of a candidate’s knowledge and career focus to determine if past experience is relevant for the featured role.  Also consider asking what duties gave them great joy and which duties they did not care for.  This helps to give a clearer picture if they will be happy long term in the job you are considering them for.

  1. Where do you see yourself in five years?

This will give insight into a candidate’s long term motivation and career goals.  It will also show if their long term goals align with your organization’s future.

  1. If I called your references, tell me what they would say is your greatest strength and what is the area that needs most improvement?

This is a great way to candidly seek a person’s greatest strengths and weakness without asking. Often times a candidate will reveal specific feedback from a previous manager or peer.  This is a great time to ask for reference letters or gather insight into the hierarchy of the candidate’s previous employers.

Keep in mind that the interview starts the moment the candidate walks in the building.  Take note of how the candidate treated the receptionist or conversed with staff.  Pay attention to the demeanor from the moment they enter the doors to the time that they leave.  Happy hiring!

Written by: Catherine Culler

Catherine Culler has been a recruiter with Godshall Professional Recruiting and Staffing since 2000. She specializes in recruiting and staffing for accounting, human resources, legal, administrative, financial, sales and customer service positions. Her prior background includes work in medical sales and sales training. She has three children, a son who is in seventh grade and twin daughters in sixth grade.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s