What’s your approach when preparing questions for interviewing candidates?



Interviewing candidates is not always an easy process. Interviewing is an art; asking the right questions, framing them the correct way, probing for more information, observing body language when the candidate responds are all elements to be considered. A good interviewer needs to be prepared, flexible and ready to adjust their approach when needed, to maximise the information gathered during the interview.

Every individual has a different style. We are all different in how we communicate, how we interpret information, how we listen, how we think and how we deal with different scenarios as they arise. Hence, having a plan for your interview questions will help you to tweak and adjust your interview questions and style to get the best out of the candidate at interview. After all, interviews can be a daunting and nerve-racking experience.

Having documented interview questions will help define what information you need to make the best selection. The risks to the business by not being prepared could result in hiring the wrong candidate and having to repeat the process down the track.

When interviewing it can be easy to fall in to the trap of not really gathering the information you need to assess a candidate’s suitability.


Do you….

  • Love talking about your business and realise you haven’t found anything out about your candidate?
  • Do you ask questions that are too broad and walk away with limited information about the candidate?
  • Have no time to prepare questions so you just wing it and end up picking the most likeable candidate?
  • Do you ask the same questions for every job you recruit for and not ask specific questions about skills relevant to the specific job?
  • Ask closed-ended questions? Where your candidate responds with a simple “yes I can do that” but doesn’t provide examples to demonstrate their experience and capability.

Being a skilful interviewer takes time, effort and practice.

It’s critical to consider the different types of questions you need to ask and what you are trying to achieve or determine by asking each question.

Here’s a few of my tips:

Define the role and develop a position description that identifies the key responsibilities and tasks which will help in putting together specific interview questions related to the role.

What are the key qualifications and experience needed for this position? Asking behavioural-based questions like “can you explain in detail an example where you have….” Will help to get real examples where they have used their skills or knowledge to deliver a work task.

What skills and attributes are you assessing? It’s important to again ask behavioural based questions to assess skills but some skills can also be observed at interview. For example, verbal communication skills and how they communicate complex information to you to ensure you understand.

As the interviewer you want to ask open-ended questions, where the candidates cannot reply with a yes or no answer. Examples of these questions are:

“Describe a time when…?”

“Tell me about a situation……?”

“Give me an example where you have….”

“What did you like most…?” and “What did you dislike…?” These are motivational questions and the key is to follow up with why they liked or disliked to really get an understanding of their motivations. You can then assess if this is something that you can or can’t offer them in your role and business.

“Can you talk me through a time when…….”

It’s important your questions are clear, structured and relevant to the position and be prepared to dig a little further if you are not getting an adequate response to really assess their suitability. Thorough note taking will assist with recalling information post the interview and will also help to protect you from any potential claims of discrimination. Taking notes is also useful for when you provide feedback to the candidate on why they were unsuccessful. Being strategic about formulating your questions will make it easier to evaluate each candidate’s suitability for the role and the critical information needed to make the right candidate choice.


Gen Ware is an experienced Recruitment Strategist for Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource and career coaching companies. With a background in recruitment, marketing, business development and management her breadth of business acumen is strong. This experience sees Genevieve have a strong understanding and ability to connect with businesses. A real passion for matching the right people to the right roles sees her work with people’s strengths to get the best out of them. Find more useful information and advice at www.inspirehq.com.au or by following Gen on LinkedIn.



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