The Best Interview Questions to Ask Your Job Candidates

Developing employees is necessary in a changing world; new skills are needed for jobs that didn’t exist a decade ago. Much of the success our employees experience can be attributed in some part to the training and development they receive from your organization and their managers.

However, a large part of that success falls squarely on the shoulders of the employee. Are they motivated to succeed, and do they find purpose in their work?

These questions are often answered too late; an employee may seem motivated and capable in an interview, but become disengaged when they’re faced with a new job.

Or vice versa, candidates who interview poorly might have the skills and motivation that will benefit your organization! Because of this, it’s important that your managers understand how to find the right candidates through the interview process. Here are some need-to-knows about interviewing job candidates!

The 4 C’s of Interview Questions

The questions you ask need to uncover more about a candidate than whether or not they possess the technical skills needed for the role.

At a high level, ask open-ended questions that reveal a candidate’s:

  • Capability
  • Commitment
  • Compatibility
  • Competency

Here are a few questions you can ask to test each of these C’s!


  • Tell us about a time you exceeded expectations or did more work than was asked of you to accomplish a task.
  • What is your work style like? Can you tell us about a time you balanced multiple tasks and were still successful?
  • What are some skills or areas you know you could further develop?


  • Why are you leaving your current role?
  • What are you looking for out of us?
  • Where do you see yourself in five or ten years?


  • How would you describe yourself?
  • If the people you would be working with are often noisy/quiet, can you work effectively in an environment like that?
  • We ask our employees to be competitive/collaborative/independent – can you tell us about a time you demonstrated those values?


  • Your resume says you have social media skills. What are some strategies you might look at when evaluating our current social media strategy?
  • This role calls for data analysis. Are you comfortable with that? What education and experiences do you have that would make you the right fit for this task?

Character Matters!

When you hire an employee, your reputation is impacted by how they perform. If you vouch for a hire who turns out to be a low performer, that might reflect poorly on you! However, if you vouch for a hire who exceeds expectations, that will reflect well on you!

While it’s relatively straightforward to determine capability, commitment, compatibility, and competency, it can be more difficult to evaluate a candidate’s character.

In other words, it’s easy to tell if a candidate can do a job, but it can be difficult to tell if a candidate is willing to do a job.

Here are some questions that will help you understand an employee’s motivation levels:

  • What motivates you?
  • What do you want to get out of this role?
  • Sometimes in this role, you would be expected to [negative thing] – is that something you’d be okay with?
  • Can you tell us about a time that you failed to meet expectations?

Bad Interviewees Might Be Great Employees!

Not everyone interviews well, and there can be a lot of factors creating anxiety about how well they do in the interview. Just because someone interviews poorly, however, doesn’t mean that they will perform poorly.

When you’re faced with a visibly nervous or distressed candidate, ask if they would like water or coffee, and then offer to retrieve it. This is a simple way to help the candidate mentally relax and prepare for the questions that will come.

If they aren’t giving you the answers you need to understand their capability, commitment, compatibility, and competency, ask more questions based on their responses, so you can dig a little deeper.

Finally, take notes and listen! Putting in a little extra work in the interview stage will help you bring in the best talent, saving your company time and ensuring that the best candidates become your best employees!

For more tips on becoming a better interviewer, be sure to check out our free, on-demand webinar, “Because Great Interviewers Are Made, Not Born!”

Content Marketing Specialist