Top 10 Most Revealing Interview Questions

Mark Freire

29th April 2015

Is listening to a candidate’s rehearsed answers to those generic interview questions really providing any insight? Is asking ‘how many golf balls can you fit in a Mini?’ really telling you much about a candidate’s likely contribution to your team, culture and bottom line?

When it comes to interviewing technical IT and digital candidates, it can be difficult to get beyond the surface. So here are 10 incisive interview questions designed to reveal any candidate’s real history, personality, motivations and career aspirations.

1. Tell me about the best manager you have ever had.

This question reveals a lot about how a candidate likes to be managed and the culture and environment which best supports their growth. If anyone struggles to find positives about previous bosses then it is probably worth exploring why.

2. How do you keep your skills and knowledge up to date?

In the fast-moving tech world you need people who will stay on top of their game. Those who don’t have a strategy or plan for continually developing their skills may not have the passion and drive you are looking for from a long term hire.

3. Having heard more about this job, what sounds like the biggest challenges or steepest learning curves for you?

This is a reworking of the classic ‘your weaknesses’ question. But in this case you are questioning their weaknesses as it relates specifically to the role on offer. Anyone who doesn’t see any challenges either lacks ambition, is overselling their skills, or taking on a role which could bore them quickly.

4. Pretend I know nothing about IT. Explain that to me again in terms that a non-tech person may understand.

While it may be easy for interviewer and candidate to build a rapport as one ‘techy’ to another, a real test of communication skills is explaining something technical in a way your customers, sales people and other staff within the company can understand it.

5.  Tell me about a time you screwed up. What happened?

We all make mistakes. How quickly we own up to and rectify them is a key quality for any technical candidate. Somebody willing to own up to a previous screw-up during a job interview is likely to make an open and trustworthy employee.

6. What can you contribute to our culture?

Most candidates see job interviews as a process of box ticking skills and experience. This question makes it clear that you are looking for something beyond just turning up for the nine to five. Candidates with a good answer to this are demonstrating that they have thought about more than just doing the job and going home.

7. If you could take back one career decision, what would it be?

This question gauges how engaged candidates are with their career development and moving upwards. It is also interesting to see how decisively a candidate corrected a previous misstep. Watch out for anyone who just uses this opportunity to slate a previous manager or company.

8. What will you do if you don’t get this job?

Just how much is a candidate’s heart fixed on this opportunity? If the answer to this question is anything other than ‘look for another great opportunity like this’, then their commitment to this particular career path needs to be questioned further.

9. Tell me your top ‘job acceptance’ factors in order of most to least important?

If the candidate is right for the role, then you will need to know how to get their commitment. This question helps you build an offer package around what matters most to the individual. It also tells you something about their motivations is taking a job – is it about learning, career development, or the money?

10. How long will you work for us?

Is this a place they want to learn and grow, or are you a short-term stepping stone onto something else? This killer final question will provide an important indication of whether this is a person worth investing your time and money in.

Now you have some interview questions, all you need is some great IT and digital talent to try them on. This is where we come in. Our proactive search methodology puts our reach far beyond active job seekers to engage passive candidates ready to take on new challenges. Our unique relationship with Just IT Training  has developed an active Alumni group of over 5000 IT and digital specialists ranging from 6 months to 10+ years experience. Alongside this, our popular network infrastructure and developer courses provide exclusive access to a constant stream of highly skilled IT and digital candidates ready for entry level positions.

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