Are you looking for the best questions to ask in an interview, whether it be as the interviewer or job applicant? Look no further! Here are my top five recommended queries from either side of the desk.

I’ve hired for junior-level positions before, but for the first time, I need to interview candidates for a manager role. What questions should I be asking candidates at this level? — Katie, Maryland

As you interview candidates for any position, it is essential to cut through the surface and find out if they are a genuine fit. Especially when searching for management roles, try to identify those who strive towards success – individuals that understand what needs to be done in order to reach aims, make complex decisions, go over obstacles, and possess the intelligence plus interpersonal expertise necessary to motivate others while leading them.

Explore their responses to key interview questions and answers to gauge their suitability for the role.

Here are five questions that will help you suss out those traits.

1. “What has been your biggest achievement at (current or recent company)? What results that you produced are you most proud of?”

When you’re searching for a competent team member, investigate their history and determine whether they are capable of building things, making progress, or taking any project from start to finish. If possible candidates only state what they think could happen instead of providing proof that it has already occurred in the past, be aware and take caution when considering them as an applicant.

Ensure your interview questions to ask delve into their concrete achievements and experiences, enabling you to make well-informed decisions during the hiring process.

2. “Tell me about a goal you or your team had that you didn’t meet.”

To assess the candidate’s capacity to learn from failure and take responsibility, you should ask them to recall a time when something didn’t go as planned. Observe how self-aware they are of their own actions and whether or not they have humility: Can they accept some accountability, or do they deflect blame onto others?

Through these insights, you can better understand this individual’s leadership abilities. Ensure that your common interview questions prompt thoughtful responses, providing valuable glimpses into the candidate’s character and problem-solving skills.

3. “Tell me about a time when…”

Instead of dwelling on what a job applicant might do in the future, it is wiser to look at how they have acted in the past. Ask questions that investigate prior experiences such as handling underperforming employees or setting objectives for fresh projects, and you will be able to ascertain if the candidate is suited for the role more accurately. By doing this, you can discover if an individual has had success with tasks similar to those required by your company before making any hiring decisions. 

Ensure your top interview questions delve into specific scenarios, providing valuable insights into the candidate’s practical skills and accomplishments.

4. “That’s interesting. Tell me more about that.”

All too often, interviewers simply ask a question and move on after hearing the answer. However, if you delve deeper into specific topics rather than just skimming through each job listed on the candidate’s resume, you will gain far more insight. Ask about one of their most meaningful projects and how they managed it from beginning to end – uncovering details that can help inform your decision-making process. After that, you could ask additional inquiries such as: What was the primary goal of this project? How did it come to be? How were objectives achieved in an effective manner? What hindrances occurred along the way and how were they resolved? Why select this particular process over any other options available at the time? Lastly, what underlying lessons can be learned from said experience(s)?

By conducting interviews in this fashion, you will gain a far better insight into the way your potential hires work and think.

5. “Tell me about a difficult personnel decision you’ve had to make.”

Establishing a team of skilled professionals who can carry out tasks to the best of their abilities is largely dependent on effective people management. Request that potential candidates explain how they tackled and eventually solved a complex people-related problem, taking note as to whether she held her staff members accountable while being just and understanding, in addition to displaying an aptitude for making difficult decisions when required.

Ensure your interview questions to ask uncover their approach to people management, providing valuable insights into their leadership style and problem-solving capabilities.

I was recently interviewed for a job, and when the interviewer asked me what questions I had for her, I didn’t know what to ask. Most of what I was wondering about had been covered earlier in the conversation. Is it OK to not ask questions at all in that situation? And if not, what are the best questions to ask? — Rochelle, Colorado

Although you may believe that all of your questions have been answered, it is always wise to seize this chance and inquire further. After all, you will be dedicating about 40 hours or more every week to this job; don’t tell me there isn’t anything else that has piqued your curiosity regarding the culture, management or work itself. Furthermore, not taking advantage of opportunities such as these might give off a signal (rightly or wrongly) showing a lack of thoughtfulness in regard to the role which can undoubtedly trigger doubt among recruiters.

As you prepare for your interview, make sure to ask questions that will not only awe your interviewer but also get you the essential details about the job role – something that is imperative in determining if it suits you. Here are five inquires meant to help with this task.

1. What are the biggest challenges the person in this position will face?

Asking this question showcases your willingness to comprehend the hard parts of the position, rather than letting enthusiasm for a new job cloud your judgment. You are demonstrating that you understand what it will require to be successful within the role and showing thoughtfulness in doing so.

Ensure your top interview questions probe the challenges of the position, revealing a candidate’s realistic understanding and preparedness for the job.

2. What would a successful first year in the position look like?

By framing your response in a way that reflects the hiring manager’s expectations, you can show them that you’re looking to exceed their standards and not just satisfy their requirements. This will demonstrate that you are highly motivated and eager to excel in the role.

3. How will the success of the person in this position be measured?

Although this inquiry may mimic the prior one, it will offer you a deeper understanding of what is most important to the hiring manager. It’s possible that while skill A or responsibility B are emphasized in the job description, they could be less significant than skill C and responsibility D to them. Asking this question can help you gain clarity on how your skillset fits into their desired team goals.

Ensure your interview questions to ask uncover the hiring manager’s priorities, providing valuable insights into the key aspects that matter most in the role.

4. How would you describe the culture here? What type of people tend to really thrive, and what types don’t do as well?

If the culture of your potential new job is in stark contrast with what you prefer, it may not be the right fit for you. It’s best to assess this before taking on a position and not when already employed there. A formal or competitive environment might leave low-key folks feeling frustrated and unfulfilled, while those who thrive off of more relaxed atmospheres will find themselves struggling in highly structured ones.

5. Thinking back to the people who you’ve seen in this role previously, what’s the difference between a good performance and a great one? This line of questioning is something that interviewers admire because it shows dedication and passion for excellence. It’s no surprise why hiring managers take note of those candidates who inquire about making the leap from good to great!

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