Green grass - selecting new employees

What to Look for when Recruiting a New Emplyee

Interview questions to ask a candidate and what answers to look for to hire the right person

What are good interview answers – tips for recruiters

Whether you are preparing for your first interview as a recruiter or you’ve made some hiring mistakes and want to improve your recruitment process, you are probably wondering what are the right answers to your questions. What answer indicates a good candidate and what is a red flag? Here I will cover common interview questions and what answers to expect from candidates. 

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How to hire the best candidate

What to look for in the candidate’s answers

How to spot a good candidate at an interview?

Briefly, you are looking for patterns in the candidate’s behaviour and thinking. You want to see alignment of the candidate’s values and motivation with your company’s goals and culture. I will look into more details below. After all, a good employee for one company doesn’t mean a match for you. 

First of all, you need clearly defined objectives of the position you’re recruiting for. Understand what exactly the new hire will need to deliver in their daily work. Once you have clarity on this, it will be easier for you to make a list of questions to ask candidates during interviews and what answers you are looking for. 

What to look for when interviewing a new employee

What questions should I look for when interviewing a new employee?

This is a very common question recruiters ask. Here I give you some examples of job interview questions and how to evaluate the candidate’s answers at an interview.

Top interview questions and answers indicating a good candidate

  1. Tell me about yourself

    Look for a logical career path and what gets them excited. Is what you’re offering something they will be passionate about based on what interested them in the past? Will they feel motivated in your company?

  2. How did you hear about our vacancy

    You don’t want a general answer here e.g. ‘online’. You want to know what caught their attention and what gets them excited about your company or the position.

  3. Talk me through your CV

    They should be able to do it from memory. (It’s surprising how many candidates can’t!) Does the candidate remember the chronology of events and the approximate dates of their employment, education etc. (they don’t need to remember daily dates, just approximately). Obviously, if they struggle with that, it may indicate some fiction on their CV. Also, if you see they become uncomfortable around this question, it’s a red flag.

  4. Describe your current role (or one of the previous roles)

    This question is to show if they really have the experience they claim to have or you need in the role they are applying for.

  5. Why are you changing careers / jobs

    See what wasn’t turning them on. Are they going to experience the same in your company? Is your company going to fulfill them? You don’t want to hear that they are motivated by a higher salary. 

  6. Why have you applied for this position?

    This question is to check their alignment with your values. You want to see deeper motivation, you don’t want to hire someone who just needs a job.

  7. What gets you excited about this position?

    This can be a follow up to the previous question. Look for their ‘Why’ and the deep motivation.

  8. What do you know about our company?

    You will be surprised how many people haven’t even visited your website! This is to check if they are interested enough in your position to spend a few moments researching your company.

  9. What are your weaknesses?

    It’s not as much about what their weaknesses are. What matters here the most is their self awareness and whether they have solutions to the problems. How do they overcome their weaknesses and do they have the willingness to improve? Many candidates are trained to give an answer that would be a weakness and an advantage the same time. Don’t get misled by that! Try to dig dipper.

  10. How do you deal with pressure?

    Great if they give an example of a specific situation. The answer will indicate how self aware they are, how well they can manage their emotions and whether they are able to find solutions to problems.

  11. Tell me about a mistake that you’ve made

    Look for a scale of a problem here. If it’s too trivial, it may mean that they aren’t comfortable talking about problems (this is a bad sign) or they don’t take things seriously. Also, see if they focus on the problem only or they talk about the solution as well. Do they focus more on the problem or the solution?
    Apart from that, see if they have the sense of responsibility. Do they try to blame others, do they seek external causes of their mistake or do they take ownership of the situation? Are they independent or do they rely on others solving their problems?

  12. Tell ma about a challenge you’ve experienced

    This question is an opportunity to spot many red flags. First, you want to hear a brief description of the situation and how they’ve overcome the difficulties. Don’t let them talk in general about their approach to challenges, you want a specific example.
    Look for the sense of ownership versus a victim mentality. Some people will put a blame on others for things which went wrong, will diminish their bosses or colleagues or talk negatively about people in various ways. This type of answer may indicate that this person could become toxic to your company culture.
    And finally, watch their body language!

  13. Tell me about a time when you went beyond your duties

    What scale or importance of a task are they talking about? Is the answer about something unexpected they had to face and how they’ve dealt with it?

  14. Tell me about a time when you’ve achieved a goal?

    First thing to look for here is whether they set goals for themselves at all. Then, see if they have a process of working towards their goals, do they know when they’ve been successful?

  15. Explain the gap in your CV

    Although it’s normal that people take sabbaticals or want to travel for a while, it’s a red flag if they have a gap on their CV which isn’t well explained. Try to figure out if someone struggled to find a job (maybe other recruiters picked up something worrying). If someone has a gap on their resume, you want to see that they did something constructive with their time, such as taking courses and working on themselves.~

  16. Why did you leave that job?

    Good answers are when the person left the position because they wanted to grow.

  17. What are you passionate about?

    In the answer to this question look for consistency with your values and your company culture.

  18. What are you most proud of?

    Many people will mention their children and other personal things. While this is certainly true, you also want to hear about something career-related. Look for contributions to other people’s lives, community etc.

  19. What motivates you?

    Does the answer indicate that the candidate’s motivation is aligned with your mission?

  20. Where do you see yourself in five years?

    What you don’t want to hear is that they don’t have a vision for themselves. You don’t want to hire someone who doesn’t know what they want (those people tend to be unhappy with whatever comes their way) or someone who is looking for a stop gap until something better comes up.

  21. What is your dream job?

    Sometimes the answer will be about something totally different to what you are recruiting for! If there is no connection with the position you are interviewing for – that’s a red flag. 

  22. Why would you like to work here?

    Are the candidate’s reasons for joining your organisation aligned with your goals? Do they sound enthusiastic?

  23. Why are you a good fit?

    Expect concrete answers to this question. It’s a great sign if they can show how their past experience is related to the responsibilities in the new role.

  24. Why are you the best candidate for this role?

    The answer will show you if they understand what’s expected from them. Will they deliver what you need?

  25. What are your salary requirements?

    Some candidates will try to avoid an answer, but you must know if you can afford to hire them. A salary range is fine, it will give you an idea if you are a match.

  26. Why should I hire you?

    This is a question to ask by the end of the interview, when you’ve built some rapport with the candidate and they have a better insight into the role and the company.
    Does the answer show that they see themselves working with you? Will they help you grow?

  27. Do you have any questions?

    No questions asked is a red flag. It may mean they aren’t interested or don’t understand the role they are applying for.
    The type of questions they ask will show you what is important to them, if they are really interested and if they can visualize themselves in the role and your company.

    Do you know this sinking feeling when you think you’ve interviewed a great candidate and at the end of the interview they have no questions? And you keep wondering: should I continue the process, are they gonna stay long-term if I hire them? 



So these are some common interview questions and answers you should expect from candidates. But remember, it’s not only what they say. It’s also how they say it, their body language, changes in the tone of voice if they are excited or uncomfortable with something. However, it’s a stressful situation for the candidate, so be aware that many people will not perform at their best during an interview. 

What are your favourite questions to ask candidates? What answers are you looking for and what you see as red flags? Share in the comments!

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