Do a google search and you’ll be inundated with interview questions. But which ones really give you the information you need and want to make an informed decision when recruiting your next team member?

I’ve conducted a lot of interviews and I’ve sat in on a lot of interviews conducted by clients and what I’ve learnt is that it’s not so much about the questions you ask it’s about how you ask them and how you probe when given an answer. Personally, I am not a fan of the direct Q & A style interview; the more conversational you can make it the better in my opinion. Absolutely ask questions as the interviewer but don’t ask the question, wait for the answer and then move on to the next question. Probe. Probe and Probe. My favourite words in an interview are “so tell me more about that……”

Hopefully you’ve moved past the good old what are your strengths and what are your weaknesses interview questions. If a candidate can’t roll out the standard responses to these infamous questions they clearly haven’t prepared well enough for the interview! Anyone can google these interview questions and come up with the common responses. Don’t you just love the responses……. I have to complete everything on my to do list before I finish for the day or I talk to much or I’m a perfectionist. Arghhh I’m cringing now as I write them. Those questions are not going to give you any useful or valuable info when making your next hire.

What would I be asking instead?

I do however have a few tried and tested interview questions. I don’t use them in every interview; it depends on the role I’m recruiting. Here are three of my fave’s:

  • In what ways do you judge your own success at work? Provide an example of when you were disappointed in your own results and what you did to rectify the situation.

I love this question because it tells me what the candidate values in performing their job and how they assess their success. I’d typically ask the first part of the question and let them respond. I’d probe and clarify, dig for a bit more detail and then follow with the second part of the question. We have all had times we have been disappointed in our work, that’s not the important part of the question. It’s about what they did to rectify the situation.

  •  What have you done in your current position to surprise and delight your manager?

At Inspire HQ we talk regularly about surprising and delighting but if it’s not language you are comfortable with swap it for exceed your managers expectations. This question is about going above and beyond. It’s about initiative. No manager has ever been surprised and delighted about an employee simply performing a responsibility listed in their position description.

  • What are three qualities of a leader that would make you admire and want to follow them? Which one of those are you weakest in and how would you mitigate that if we hired you for this role?

Again with this one I’d ask the first part of the question and let them answer then follow up with the second part of the question. It never ceases to amaze me how many people start to argue or dispute that they are not weak in any of those areas and that the three qualities they have provided are all areas of strength for them. But that’s not the question. So keep probing and explain it’s not about the quality being a weakness. They might be all strengths but which one are they weakest in and how would they work on that. Keep pushing for an answer.


You can have the best interview questions but if you don’t ask the question in the right way (tone, pausing at certain points, clarifying if they go off in a different direction) and you don’t probe, even the best interview questions are not going to gather the info you need to decide effectively between candidate A and candidate B. The key to any interview is knowing and understanding what information you are trying to gather and being prepared. Have your questions drafted, avoid winging it and don’t be afraid to ask…………. Tell me more about that.

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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