Questions to ask in an Interview

Questions to ask in an Interview

An interview is defined as a formal and in-depth conversation between two or more individuals. This procedure is designed to question, consult, or evaluate someone by obtaining information orally. Here are the questions to ask in an Interview.

Interviews should be a conversation between two or more people rather than a stressful grilling session. The candidate should follow the lead of the interviewer/s and answer all of their questions and queries. It is also expected of the candidate to ask questions once the interviewer is done asking everything. Such enthusiasm would ensure the interviewer/s of their genuine interest towards the organization. 

Definition of Interview

In the selection process the most crucial component in an interview. The proper assessment of a person’s skill ability and knowledge related to the particular job is done during an interview.

The interviewer, one or more than one, decides if there will be any further interviews or if the candidate will be hired or eliminated after the interview process is over.

Types of Interviews

Various types of interviews are conducted by interviewers. They are as follows:

  • Unstructured Interview
  • Structured Interview
  • Behavioral Interview
  • Panel Interview
  • Mass Interview
  • Situational Interview
  • Stress Interview
  • One-On-One Interview
  • Job-related Interview
  • Phone Interview
  1. Unstructured or Nondirective Interview

Unstructured or nondirective interviews do not follow any formal rules or procedures. Due to their not set formats, their interviews can take different directions. The lack of structure in them lets the interviewer pursue points of interest and even ask follow-up questions.

A non-directive interview can be defined as an interview with questions that are probing and open-ended. Even the questions asked to vary from applicant to applicant.

  1. Structured or Directive Interview

The structured or directive interview includes standardized questions used by the interviewer. The interviewer makes a list of questions and appropriate and acceptable answers beforehand. They may sometimes even rate and score their appropriate answers.

The questions asked are mostly job-related and there are four types of questions:

  • Knowledge about the job – The interviewers ask these questions for probing the applicant’s knowledge regarding the particular job.
  • Situation – The interviewer may pose a hypothetical situation regarding the particular job for determining how the applicant would act in that situation.
  • Job sample simulation – The interviewer can involve the applicant in situations where they might have to do a simple task related to the particular job.
  • Worker requirement – The interviewer asks these questions to understand and determine the applicant’s willingness for conforming to the requirements of the particular job.
  1. Behavioral Interview

A behavioral interview is when a candidate is given a hypothetical problem to solve. They are asked to describe any situation from their past and how they reacted to it.

The interviewer inquires about any situations they had faced similar to the probable situations they might encounter in the job. The scores they provide are the ones based on a scoring guide made by job experts.

The questions are based on the past behavior of the candidate in certain situations. The standard questions asked are related to their problem tackling or solving ability.

The questions may even be discretionary probing on the problem, behavior, and solution. The behaviorally anchored rates are used to score the responses given by the applicants.

  1. Panel or Board Interview

A panel or board interview is usually conducted by a team of members that are two or more interviewers to a maximum of 15 members. They conduct interviews for each candidate and afterward combine the ratings based on their interviews to finalize their scores.          

Every single candidate is interviewed by different representatives of the firm who form the panel. The interview consists of the candidate giving oral responses to job-related questions that the panelists ask.

The panelists’ rate or give scores to the interviewee based on their presentation, creative thinking, motivation, and work history. The process of scoring is subjective to not form any personal biases towards any individual candidate.

  1. Mass or Group Interview

The mass of group interview is a newer technique from the west and is known and used by very few. This process is for discovering leadership skills.

Various applicants engage in a leaderless discussion while the interviewers sit, observe, and evaluate them in the background. In such interviews, several candidates are simultaneously interviewed by the panelists.

The panel of interviewers may pose a problem and observe how the applicant takes the lead in finding a solution to it.

  1. Situational Interview

During a situational interview, the interviewer asks the applicant questions based on what their behavior would be in a particular situation. The questions are based on the actions a candidate would take in situations related to the job. The interviewers ask about how an applicant would react in a hypothetical situation they face at present or in the future.

  1. Stress Interview

Stress interviews are the types where the interviewer asks the candidate questions that are uncomfortable and even rude. Such questions are asked to spot sensitive applicants and measure if their tolerance level is high, low, or somewhere in between.

It helps the interview discover the applicants who are hypersensitive and mild criticism makes them overreact with anger and abuse. The questions are meant to intentionally create anxiety that would in turn help the interviewer understand how a particular applicant will react to the stress on the job.

  1. One-On-One Interview

One-on-one interviews are where a single interviewer meets a single candidate. In typical employment interviews, only one interviewer meets one applicant.

Such an interview is highly emotional for the applicant. The meeting with the interviewer that too alone, makes it less threatening.

  1. Job-related Interview

In job-related interviews, the applicant is asked questions based on experiences from his relevant past. The series of questions are based on relevant job-related behaviors in the past. The questions are not at all related to hypothetical or actual situations. One example would be the interview asking about the applicant’s favorite course in business school.

  1. Phone Interview

The phone interviews, as the name implies are taken through phone calls. Compared to face-to-face interviews they are more accurate judges of an applicant’s intelligence, conscientiousness, and interpersonal skills.

The parties can solely concentrate on the substantive answers over everything else. In case the candidate is surprised by an unexpected call he/she might be more spontaneous in his responses.

Objectives of Interviews

The objectives of an interview are:

  • For the verification of the information through the help of application forms and tests.
  • In helping obtain the extra information about the candidate that is otherwise not available.
  • For providing the candidate with the necessary facts and information regarding the organization and the particular job they are applying for.
  • To help in the establishment of mutual respect and understanding between the applicant and the company, besides building the company’s image.

Who Asks Questions

Interviews are a two-way process of communication where the interviewer seeks information through questions and the interviewee provides answers through verbal responses.

Both the interviewer and interviewee ask questions during an interview. The former begins with asking questions, while the latter starts towards the end when the former is done with his/her questions.

Questions to Ask the Interviewee

When a candidate applies for a job position, usually they have to go through an interview held by one or more interviewers. Some of the questions asked in interviews and their expected answers are as follows:

  1. Basic Questions
  • Self-introduction – Concise and compelling pitch fit for the job and not a complete employment history.
  • Discover the job position – Can be through a person, event, or article.
  • Interest in the job – Pointing out the uniqueness, of the company and the opportunities and growth in the past.
  • Reason for choosing the particular job – interesting features of the particular job.
  • The reason the company should hire them – Suitability with the company and personal abilities perfect for the role.
  • Capabilities – Abilities that can solve the problem in the company.
  • Strengths – Things the candidate is better at than others.
  • Weaknesses – Things the candidate is not very good at but is trying to fix.
  1. Questions related to Experience
  • Greatest achievement – Track record of outstanding results in the previous job.
  • Job-related problem and its solution – Difficult situations and conflicts in the previous job.
  • Leadership skills – Initiatives and motivations to lead others taken in the previous job.
  • Disagreement at work – Disagreeing on a decision based on facts and learning from it.
  • Mistake – Making a mistake and winning someone over by rectifying it.
  • Failure – Failure in the previous job and what it taught.
  • The reason behind leaving the previous job – Positive things about the old job but the opportunities presented in the job the individual is interviewing for is more desirable.
  • The reason they were fired – Not always the case, but if fired then because of reorganization, merging, acquiring, or simply performance related.
  • The gap in your professional life – Due to personal crisis, health issues travel and the qualities gained while away from work.
  • Changing career path – Experience relevant to the new role.
  • The last salary – Try to deflect the question in the beginning or answer if one chooses to.
  • The thing they disliked in the previous job – Focus on the opportunity that the previous job lacked but the one the individual is interviewing for has.
  1. Personal and Goal related Questions
  • Expectations from the new position – Specific things the position is offering.
  • Preferred work environment – The environment the company would provide.
  • Workstyle – Communication, collaboration, leadership, management, and all other skills.
  • Management style – Flexibility and being a good coach to team members.
  • Boss and coworker’s description of the individual – Strong work ethic, pitching in ideas for projects, and other positive character traits that haven’t been mentioned yet.
  • Pressure and stress management – Strategies of dealing with stress, communication, and proactively mitigating pressure.
  • Hobbies – Time spends doing different things of interest during the off-hours.
  • Family planning – Try to deflect the personal questions with other job-related queries because it is not appropriate to be asked.
  • Prioritize work – Time management, communication, exercising judgment, and shifting gears when required.
  • Passion – Hobbies the individual is passionate about can and can not be related to the job.
  • Motivation – Focus on the exciting factors of the role and be enthusiastic about it.
  • Pet peeves – Reason and how it was addressed while staying calm and composed.
  • Management – Things done by the previous boss that motivated the individual and led to success and growth.
  • Successful or not – Professional achievement through skill, quality, and achievement that can be tied to the role the individual is interviewing for.
  • Five years in the future – Realistic expectation and ambition towards future goals.
  • Plan to achieve career goals – Self-motivation, time management, and organizational skills as well as past goals that were achieved.
  • Dream job – If the position is in line with the candidate’s ultimate career goals.
  • Other companies they interviewed – expressing the enthusiasm for the job and also mentioning interviews for similar positions in other companies.
  • Unique – Something that would give the individual an edge over the others applying for the same position.
  • Qualities outside resume – Positive story about an experience, goal, or mission that makes the individual excited for the job.
  1. Job-related Questions
  • Job role in the first 30, 60, and 90 days – Previous research, prior planning, and initiative for the job.
  • Salary Expectations – Try to deviate or delay answering. When giving a range do prior research and take experience, skills, education, and personal needs into consideration.
  • Any suggestions – Give feedback and try to end with a question.
  • Starting time – If the individual can start immediately or needs to give notice to their current job.
  • Relocation – If the individual is open to moving. If the answer is no then offer an alternative.
  1. Questions for Testing
  • Mathematical questions – To understand the capability of understanding the problem and systematic and logical response.
  • Sprit Animal – Personality test-type questions for sharing strengths and personality.
  • Selling a product – Ability to handle work pressure, stay calm and confident, and proper handling of the task.
  1. Questions before Wrapping-Up
  • Anything else the individual is curious about – A summary of the qualifications.
  • Any questions the individual has – Anything the individual has still not asked.

Questions to Ask the Interviewer

It is also necessary to ask questions after the interviewer is finished with his/her questions. Not only does it give the individual all the answers to their job-related questions but also ensures the interviewer about their interest and enthusiasm towards the job. Some such questions are as follows:

  1. Job-related Questions
  • A typical day at the job – The everyday responsibilities of the job.
  • Immediate projects – The important and current projects that need to be addressed.
  • Sample projects – Examples of projects that the individual would be working on if hired
  • Skills and experiences – The skills and experiences the company is looking for in the candidate they would hire.
  • Attributes for success – The qualities required to be successful in the particular job position.
  • Missing skills – The skills that the new hire should have which the team is missing.
  • Biggest challenge – The big challenges the one with the particular job would face.
  • Work budget – The soft of budget the candidate would be working with if hired.
  • New role – If the job position has been created recently.
  • Change in responsibilities – The expected change in the chief responsibilities in the next six months to a year.
  1. Training and Professional Development Questions
  • Training – The training the candidate would receive if hired.
  • Training program – The training programs that are available to the employees of the company.
  • Opportunities – The opportunities for advancement and professional development if any.
  • Representation – If the candidate would be able to represent the company in different industry conferences if hired.
  • The last person with that job – The place the last person with the particular job is moving.
  • Promotions – The position where the employees who had previously succeeded in the job have progressed to.
  1. Performance-related Questions
  • Expectations – The things that the company expects to see from the hired candidate in the first 30, 60, and 90 days.
  • Performance expectations – The performance expectations from the hired employee over the first 2 months or one year.
  • Review process – The performance review process of the company and how the candidate will be reviewed if hired.
  • Goals or performance evaluation – The metrics or goals against which the candidate’s performance would be evaluated if hired.
  1. Questions related to the Interviewer
  • Period of employment – The period the interviewer has been with the company.
  • Changes in the role – If the interviewer’s role has changed from when he first joined
  • Previous job – The previous job the interviewer had before the present one.
  • Reason for joining the company – The reason why the interviewer decided to join the company.
  • Favorite part of the work – The favorite part of the interviewer about working in that company.
  1. Company related Questions
  • More information – Extra information about the company’s foundation that the candidate is not aware of.
  • Future – The position the company will be in a few years.
  • New products and plans – The new products and plans for the company for its future growth.
  • Current goals – The current goals of the company and how the employees are working to achieve them.
  • An exciting feature about the future – The thing that excites the interviewer regarding the company’s future.
  1. Team related Questions
  • Team – The team that the candidate will be a part of if hired.
  • Close employees – the people the candidate would work closely with if hired.
  • Reporting – The person or superior the candidate would have to report to if hired.
  • Direct reports, strengths, and challenges – The direct reports if hired. The biggest challenges and strengths of the team the candidate would be a part of.
  • Hiring in the new six months – If the department would hire any new employees in the next six months.
  • Other departments – The other departments that work closely with that particular department.
  • Common career paths – The common career paths in the particular department.
  1. Culture related Questions
  • Culture – The company and team culture.
  • Work environment – The working environment of the company, if the work is collaborative or more independent.
  • Last team event – The last team event held between the team members.
  • Mission or values – The formal mission or company values.
  • Favorite office tradition – The favorite office tradition of the interviewer.
  • Lunch – The regular lunch plans of the interviewer and the team members.
  • Joint events – If there are any joint events with other departments and companies.
  • The difference in working style – The difference in working style from any other place the interviewer has worked in.
  • Changes in the company – If there have been any changes in the company since the interviewer joined.
  1. Questions about New Step
  • Concerns about the background – Concerns about the candidate’s background and if it’s fit for the particular job.
  • Next steps of the interview – The following steps of the interview process.
  • Additional information – If there is any other information the candidate can provide.
  • Final questions – The final questions for the candidate if any.

Questions to Not Ask in an Interview

Interviews are related to the professional life of an individual so interviewers should refrain from using certain questions. Similarly, the interviewee should also not ask certain questions when it’s his/her turn since that would also be considered while making the decision of hiring him/her and may leave a negative impression on the interviewer.

Questions Not to Ask the Interviewee

  • Year of birth or graduation
  • Living conditions or the family members
  • Arrest records
  • Credit inquiries
  • Disability
  • Marital status
  • Genetic disorders
  • Race and color
  • Religion
  • Gender identity

Questions Not to Ask the Interviewer

  • Interview performance
  • Hired or not
  • The frequency of raises
  • Bonus frequency
  • Perks and benefits
  • When to expect a reply
  • Company’s role
  • Vacation 


The resume of the candidate should always match the facts and he/she should answer honestly during an interview. The interviewer will make a decision not only on the qualifications but also the candidate’s attitude. Prior preparation would help keep calm and composed during the interview. In case there is an unexpected question it would be ideal to answer truthfully.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is it okay to ask the candidate about his/her marital or pregnancy status during an interview?

It is illegal to ask questions related to marital or pregnancy status during an interview.

  1. Is it important to research the job and company before the interview?

It is recommended to do some prior research so that if the interviewer asks questions related to the company or job, the candidate will be prepared to answer.

  1. What to do if the interviewer does not contact after the interview?

The candidate should wait for some time. If there is still no reply then they should give a gentle reminder to their recruiter. Though the chances of being hired are low if still not contacted.

Questions to ask in an Interview

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