Professional Recruiters Reveal 16 of the Best Interview Questions to Ask

It takes a lot of work to get qualified job candidates in your door for an interview. But, that’s not always your toughest task. Developing interview questions that will give you the answers you need to make the best hiring decision for your business can prove to be much more difficult.

But there’s no need to walk into the interview room feeling unprepared, or to walk out feeling unsure about the candidate’s potential at your company.

We reached out to the Insperity® Recruiting Services team for you to find out: What interview questions do you always ask, and why?

Here are 16 questions they suggested you always ask.

1. Why did you apply for this particular position?

This can help candidates relax a bit. It is open-ended, and you can learn more about them (as with behavioral questions). Sometimes, I can also see if they have done their homework by researching the company.

Kari Galloway | Recruiting Specialist | Experience: 8 years | Twitter: @karigalloway1

2. Why are you the best choice for this role?

What separates you from other candidates? First, these questions tell me how prepared candidates, are and if they know their own strengths and how they apply to the position they’re interviewing for.

For example, a well prepared candidate will state, “I have good technical skills,” tell me why, and move to the next strength. I call it a two-minute drill. Basically they should have a short summary of why you should hire them ready to go at the start.

Second, I’ll see if they’ve thought about how they fit into the role. I like hearing skills especially related to the job descriptions and related examples from their past work experience. For example, if a candidate says, “I’m good with technology,” he or she should follow up by discussing the different systems he or she has worked with, as well as any achievements he or she made while employed.

Greg Hawke | Recruiting Specialist | Experience: 8+ years | Twitter: @greghawkes_insp

3. For a managerial role: Have you experienced a policy change, department structure change or other significant change that was not very popular with the people it affected? If so, what was it and how did you remain flexible and productive through it?

Or, for a subordinate role: Have you experienced a policy change, department structure change or other significant change that you weren’t expecting? If so, what was it and how did you remain flexible and productive through it?

I ask candidates these questions because there is always change within every organization. To know how someone has reacted and stayed focused through change is a good indicator of future performance.

Stormy Mazzella | Recruiting Specialist | Experience: 6 years

4. What was the best job you’ve had and why?

The answer to this question can tell you a lot about the type of culture that your candidates respond well to as well as how they’re motivated to work.

5. How do you like to be managed?

The answer to this question provides insight into the level of responsibility that candidates are comfortable with and will ultimately allow you to determine if your management style matches with their expectations.

Carrie Starr | Director, Recruiting Services | Experience: 16 years

6. What did you like most about [a job on their resume]? What did you like least about this job?

It is very telling about candidates’ motivation, personality and potential cultural fit. If the job they least liked has similar qualities as the job I’m hiring for, then they’re probably not going to be a good fit, and they won’t stick around for long.

Lila Holst | Senior Corporate Recruiting Specialist | Experience: 10+ years | Twitter: @lilaholst

7. Tell me about one of your most successful partnerships with a peer or client. What made it great?

Who an individual interacts with at work varies considerably over the course of their role. From bouncing ideas off colleagues to pitching in on projects, I like to get an idea of how this person contributes to ever-changing business needs.

Allowing candidates to talk through some of these examples can give me great insight into how they manage – or don’t manage – relationships and their day-to-day duties.

Megan Calimbas | Manager, Sourcing Services | Experience: 8 years | Twitter: @Megan_Calimbas

8. What type of projects do you enjoy working on?

This often gives you a deeper insight into candidates’ motivation for their work. Based on their answers, I can gauge where their interests may align within the scope of the position I’m recruiting for. This could be in terms of how they meet the immediate needs of the role as well as how their strengths and interests can enhance it in the long term.

9. What are your minimum salary requirements?

Very few applicants indicate their salary requirements on the front end for fear that they’ll over price themselves and the employer will rule them out. But, if possible, I try to at least get them to give me a salary range. This way if they’re way over your budget, I don’t waste my time or theirs.

Tony Lewis | Senior Recruiting Specialist | Experience: 8 years | Twitter: @TonyLewis711

10. Can you tell me about your greatest success and your greatest failure?

The success portion of the question provides insight into your candidates’ achievements and aspirations. It demonstrates what sacrifices, strategies and methods they’ve used to obtain their goals.

The failure portion allows you to see what your candidates learned from their experiences. Understanding how good and bad experiences shaped or improved my candidates helps me understand their thought process and how goal-oriented they may be. It demonstrates how they recovered from those failures.

Did they fail forward? Or, did they springboard on their successes perhaps?

11. When you have competing priorities, how do you strategize and communicate expectations to your stakeholders?

In today’s work environment, employees are tasked with multiple deadlines, and many of the projects are deemed as urgent. Understanding your candidates’ work methodologies and their communication strategies can help you determine whether they can work in a fast-paced and demanding environment.

Joe Flores | Director, Recruiting Services | Experience: 10 years | Twitter: @Recruiting_Joe

12. What would your current employer need to offer in order to keep you?

Your candidates’ response can tell you a lot about their current work situation and the likelihood that they will accept a new offer. It even provides insight into the possibility of a counter offer from their current employer.

This question also opens the door for candidates to detail their goals and career aspirations. Are they looking for management opportunities? Are they seeking training?

Natalie Dunphy | Sourcing Analyst | Experience: 3 years | Twitter: @natalie_dunphy

13. Understanding that you’re happy in your current position, what factors would you consider if you were to make a career change at this time?

I always like to ask a broad, open-ended question to gauge my candidates’ motivation for seeking a new position. Each person is motivated by different things – money, work-life balance, new technology, etc.

I find it’s imperative to determine their motivators, so I don’t waste time selling aspects of the job that my applicants don’t care about.

Michael Deeb | Sourcing Analyst |Experience: 4 years| Twitter: @deeb_mike

14. If they’re not currently employed, I ask: Why did you leave your last role?

Finding out why someone left their last role tells a lot about the person’s work performance and expectations. Red flags can already begin to emerge during this conversation, and it can help lead to more probing questions.

For example, if a candidate is looking for growth opportunities, but has not sought project work or an increase in work load in his or her current role, this may signal he or she isn’t willing to work for a promotion, but still expects it.

Michele Anderson | Recruiting Specialist | Experience: 2 years | Twitter: @Ander_Michele1L

15. What steps or techniques do you take to ensure you meet the commitments of your role?

Their answer tells me a lot about their follow through on commitments and dedication to their jobs. I’m looking for specifics in their response. Dedicated, committed employees will be able to speak to their effort to ensure they do a good job in their role. They will speak to prioritizing tasks and managing their day.

16. Upon hire, can you provide proof of your legal right to work in the U.S. without the current or future need for sponsorship?

When recruiting technical personnel, some companies do not want to incur the costs of sponsoring an applicant. In that case, I must question all applicants to ensure that they will not need visa sponsorship. Subsequently, it’s best to establish the feasibility of hiring prospective candidates earlier rather than later in our screening process.

Kimberly Russell | Manager, Recruiting Services | Experience: 5 years | Twitter: @KimRTxRecruiter

Every interview and every hire is important. Learn how asking right questions can help you better evaluate your candidates by downloading our free magazine, Building a Better Team: How to Attract, Recruit and Hire Top Talent.


Asking the above question on growth potential reveals how a candidate works through problems on their own without someone to tell them what to do. Do they figure it out on their own? Do they ask someone else for help or input? Were they able to fix the problem without their manager? All this shows whether or not the candidate is capable of taking charge and will be able to grow into a senior role at your company.

Insperity Blog

Hi Robert, Those questions dig deeper into the candidate’s problem solving abilities, you’re correct. Thank you for sharing – we appreciate your insight.

Fern Hutchison

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Insperity Blog

Thank you for your comments, Fern 🙂