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10 Unique Questions to Ask During an Interview (for Both Sides)

Interviews play a critical role in hiring but often fail to provide employers with a complete understanding of the candidates they engage. The interview process should offer an essential opportunity for both sides: the interviewer gets to understand if the candidate is the right fit for the open role, and the candidate gets to decide if the position is what they're looking for.

A major challenge with most interview formats is breaking through the illusion of perfect responses. Receiving answers that interviewees think you or the interviewer want to hear doesn’t truly give you the understanding you need to make the best decision for your organization. The goal should be an authentic dialogue. 

Besides following up with the applicants’ references and conducting a background check, coming prepared with unique, insightful questions ensure you get the answers you need to make an informed choice, no matter which side of the table you’re on. Need inspiration? Check out the ten questions we recommend below. 

5 Questions Interviewers Should Ask

As a manager, there are tons of questions you may want to ask candidates to get a sense of their professional experience and qualifications. Here are five options to help you understand how your interviewee would fit into your organization and whether they’re the right person for the job.

1. How would you describe your (current or past) manager?

This question helps you understand your candidate’s communication style and can give you insight into why they’re leaving their current role. Depending on their response, you’ll also get a sense of their ability to frame the situation positively, even if it’s not ideal for their current goals.  

2. What is your ideal workplace culture?

Each organization has its unique culture, and when you’re bringing someone onto your team, you want their preferences to align with the day-to-day realities of your environment. For example, if your office is more collaborative, it might not be the best placement for someone who prefers to handle all their tasks individually. Your candidate’s answer here will give you a sense of the cultural fit. 

3. What is your approach to workplace conflict?

Experiencing workplace conflict is unfortunate, but it’s a fact of life in an office environment. Your interviewee’s answer to this question will offer insight into their problem-solving skills, approach to interpersonal collaboration, and ability to navigate a challenging situation effectively.

4. How would your past co-workers describe you?

This question allows your candidate to describe their soft skills and character traits in more detail. As a bonus, if they have a hard time “bragging” about their strengths, the phrasing of this question makes the response feel less like self-promotion and more like a humble reflection.

5. What are your goals for yourself this year?

While the other questions on this list ask candidates to reflect on the past, this question gives you a sense of their ability to plan for the future. You can specify whether you’d like them to share personal or professional goals, but in either case, you’ll learn what they’re working towards and how they approach the self-development process.

5 Questions Interviewees Should Ask

Time to flip the script! If you’re a candidate seeking your next role, don’t get stuck without responding to the “Do you have any questions for me?” portion of the conversation. Here are five options that will make you look well-prepared—and help you decide if the role is proper for you. 

6. What metrics would you use to measure success in this role?

This question is a great way to demonstrate that you’re goal-oriented and you care about contributing to the company’s success. Plus, if you get hired, you’ll know exactly how to impress your manager as you settle into the role.

7. What is the biggest challenge the team has faced in the past year?

While your interviewer has likely shared the general job requirements with you, they may have yet to explain why the team needs support or what they’ve been working towards lately. Asking this question gives you a sense of any roadblocks you may encounter in the role, and it may highlight how the hiring manager demonstrates leadership through tough times. 

8. What behaviors do the most successful members of the team exhibit?

This question is another great opportunity to show the hiring manager that you’re already preparing to succeed if you were given the role. It can also give you more clarity into the traits and qualities your interviewer is looking to hire for. If there are multiple interview rounds, you can emphasize those same traits and behaviors in your following conversations. 

9. How do you deliver feedback to individuals?

Feedback is crucial at work, and how it’s provided can offer an idea of what to expect if you accept the position. After you ask this question, listen for their ability to offer constructive criticism, communicate clearly, and share positive feedback in addition to negative feedback.

10. How does the company promote diversity and inclusion?

Finally, ask about the company’s diversity and inclusion practices. Many organizations have made empty DEI promises in the last few years, so the response here will tell you whether there are clear actions and initiatives to back up those claims.

Need assistance with your hiring process? Learn more about our hiring and staffing solutions, including HRIS tech as an end-to-end solution for hiring, onboarding, and progress tracking at merrittbusiness.solutions/services

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