Popular Interview Questions 

When it comes to interviewing, best-in-class recruiters and hiring managers often rely on some of the most popular interview questions.

 

These interview questions are most-used for a reason — they’re easy to remember and they help you identify top tier talent.

Here are the most popular interview questions and how to use them.

What makes an interview question popular?

A popular interview question is one that gathers basic information on a candidate. These commonly used interview questions are great for learning background information on a specific candidate and are recommended for use during the initial screening and phone screening periods of the recruitment lifecycle. 

List of Popular Interview Questions

  • Can you tell me about yourself?

  • What from your past experience makes you a good fit for this role?

  • Why are you currently evaluating new opportunities?

  • What do you hope to gain from a new position?

  • What type of work environment do you prefer?

  • Tell me about one of your favorite managers. What did you appreciate about their leadership style?

  • Can you tell me about a time you disagreed with a decision that was made at work? Why?

  • How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations?

  • What gets you most excited about our job description?

  • What gets you most excited about working at our company?

How to Use These Popular Interview Questions

Can you tell me about yourself?

This common interview question is used to get to know the candidate. Asking an open-ended question like this allows them to get comfortable and talk about topics that they’re interested in. This is a great question to ask as an “ice breaker” and to get a feel for their candor with you and potential personality fit with your company.

As CEO of one of the world’s largest search firms, Gary Burnison explains one of the best answers he’s ever heard in this post by CNBC. In this article, he shows that sometimes the best answers aren’t necessarily about the candidate’s professional experience.

What from your past experience makes you a good fit for this role?

This popular interview question is used to see how the candidate links their past work history with the job description. It’s particularly helpful to ask this question when evaluating high-potential or candidates looking to ascend into new responsibilities. Use this question to learn about their previous work history and how they would apply their various skills/experience to the responsibilities of your open role.

Why are you currently evaluating new opportunities?

Rather than asking a candidate “what” companies they’re also evaluating, try asking them “why” they’re currently evaluating new opportunities. Understanding their current reasons for hunting for a new job provides valuable insight into the type of culture they’re looking for, leadership style, and/or responsibilities.

What do you hope to gain from a new position?

By asking this question, you can get a better idea of whether the candidate is looking for a new position simply for a pay raise, or if they’re looking for a better culture, work/life balance, or new challenges. If they care about constantly developing and being challenged, then you’ll know what you and your team will need to do to keep them engaged and to reduce their likelihood to churn as an employee.

What type of work environment do you prefer?

Culture plays a large part in a candidate’s decision-making. Learn if your candidate is seeking a position that grants greater autonomy, or if they want something that feels more like a second family. This important information to gain in determining if the candidate will be a great addition to your company. 

Tell me about one of your favorite managers. What did you appreciate about their leadership style?

A vast majority of employees quit because of poor leadership styles and fits. Learn what your candidate views as effective leadership to ensure they’ll align with the boss/manager of the role at your company. 

Can you tell me about a time you disagreed with a decision that was made at work? 

Employees will not always agree with decisions that are made. This gives you the chance to learn about a decision that your candidate opposed, and their thought process as to why. Knowing that your candidate is willing to provide a different idea and point of view is essential in landing a hire that can be transformative to your company.

How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations?

It goes without saying that work is stressful, especially in time of high-growth. When your office becomes a pressure-cooker of deadlines and priorities, you want to make sure your new hires don’t have nervous breakdowns, yell at colleagues, or quit. This is why it’s important to learn that your candidate has been in high-stress environments and has a healthy way of dealing with stress.

  

What gets you most/least excited about our job description?

You don’t want to be a stepping stone for a talented candidate who’s looking for a temporary payday as they find their next gig. You want to choose the candidate that is excited about the role at your company and is motivated to come to work every day to do their job. This popular interview question helps you understand their motivations as well as the parts of the job they’re most and least excited about.

What gets you most excited about working at our company?

Hiring for culture has become one of the hottest criteria for modern recruiters. And 46% of job seekers even cite company culture as the main reason for applying to a job. Using this interview question, you can learn the specific reasons why your candidate is excited to work for your company, and which ones won’t be a good fit. 

 

Behavioral Based Questions

What is a behavioral based interview question?

Behavioral based interview questions are popular in recruiting because they showcase how candidates handled different work situations in the past. The idea is to identify different skills, abilities, personality, creative thinking, and problem-solving ability based on past behavior through challenging questions.

Behavioral Based Interview Question Samples and Examples

Below you’ll find our list of the best behavioral interview questions to assess candidates for different job fitness factors such as teamwork and adaptability.

Examples of Behavioral Interview Questions to Assess Teamwork

Use these questions to assess how the candidate managed team conflict or fulfilled their responsibilities despite team challenges, or through a cooperation despite personality clashes.

 

1. Can you give me an example of a time you faced conflict while working on a team? How did you handle/manage that situation and still fulfill your responsibilities?

2. Describe a time when you had to collaborate with a team member in another department in your company. How did you overcome the differences in department goals?

3. We all make mistakes in communication. Tell me about a time you wish you’d handled communicating with a member of your team differently.

4. Tell me about a time when you had to collaborate with a member of your team who was not responsive. How did you handle that situation? Were you able to fulfill your responsibilities and hit your goals?

Behavioral Based Interview Questions for Adaptability

The best way to do business is dynamic and always changing. Today’s applicants must be able to adapt to various situations and needs. The questions below will help to assess their ability to adapt and react to change in the workplace.

1. Tell me about a time at work when you were under a lot of pressure. What was going on? How did you handle that pressure?

2. Describe a time when you were working on a project, only to have management or some other factors change the requirements suddenly. What did you do to ensure you met the new timelines and requirements?

3. Tell me about a time when a deadline suddenly changed to much sooner than expected. What did you do to ensure you met the new timeframe?

4. Describe a time when your team was going through a significant change. What was this change and how did you adapt to meet the changing environment?

5. Tell me about a time when a project you were responsible for didn’t go as planned. How did you deal with the situation?

Behavioral Interview Questions to Assess Client-Facing Skills

Often, your new hires will need to interface with clients and customers. These questions will help you understand how they communicate and work with clients/customers.

1. Tell me about a time you had to make a good impression on a client. How did you ensure you made a significant, positive impression?

2. Things don’t always go as expected. Tell me about a time you didn’t meet a client’s expectations. What happened? How did you try to improve the situation?

3. Give me an example of when you had to interact with a difficult client/customer. What were the circumstances of the interaction? How did you handle this difficulty? Were you able to change the experience from negative to positive?

4. Dealing with a large volume of customers/clients is common. How do you ensure you create a positive experience for all of your customers/clients? What types of tasks/activities do you perform to ensure you properly prioritize all of their needs?

Behavioral Based Interview Question Examples for Time Management

Employees will be responsible for various tasks on a daily basis. Use these behavioral questions to understand their ability to manage and prioritize their time to be as effective as possible.

1. Describe a time when you had to be very organized and strategic with your responsibilities to meet all of your top priorities.

2. Give me an example of a long-term project that you managed. What did you do to maintain progress and meet the timeframe of the project without wasting time?

3. Give me an example of a long-term project with multiple stakeholders. How did you manage everyone’s time and tasks to ensure deliverables were consistently met?

4. It’s not always possible to get everything on your task list complete in a single day. Describe a time when your responsibilities became overwhelming. What did you do?

5. Describe a time when you had multiple projects with conflicting deadlines. Were you able to juggle these projects to meet their deadlines? What sacrifices did you make to ensure you were successful?

6. Describe a time you set a goal for yourself. How did you ensure that you hit that goal?

 

Examples of Behavioral Interview Questions for Communication Skills

Communication is a part of daily work. Learn how your applicants communicated with past co-workers and managers.

1. Tell me about a time when you were the expert in your field and needed to describe a project/situation/challenge. How did you handle this and ensure all stakeholders understood your perspective and what you were describing?

2. Describe a time when you had to rely on written communication to initiate a project. How did you communicate to ensure your ideas came across to your team and they understood all deliverables?

3. Tell me about a time you had to persuade a co-worker or manager. What did you do to persuade them to see things your way?

4. Give me an example of a successful presentation you gave. How did you prepare and explain everything to ensure it was successful?

Behavioral Based Interview Questions to Uncover Motivation and Values

Several questions that recruiters often ask are designed to uncover the motivations of candidates. Do they want to stay at your company? Do they want to move up the corporate ladder? Or is their goal to jump ship at a better opportunity? Use these questions to learn about their different motivations and values.

1. Tell me about the professional accomplishment that you’re most proud of. What was it and what sets it apart?

2. Give me an example of a time when you saw a problem at work. What steps did you take to correct the issue?

3. Tell me about a time when you worked under close supervision and under loose supervision. How did you handle each of those situations?

4. Describe a time where you weren’t happy with your work. What did you do? What could have made it better?

5. Describe a time where you had complete control over a task/project at work. What did you like/dislike about this? What was the result?

6. Tell me about a time when you had to prioritize your work over helping a teammate. What went into your decision-making process to choose yourself over them?

7. Describe a time when a team member came to you with a problem that required your help. What did you do?

Final thoughts: behavioral based interview questions

Above are great examples of behavioral based interview questions you can start using today.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and test using specific examples of role-based needs such as sales, marketing, support, development or possibly change the language of the questions to assess for other analytics skills, management levels, or even common situations employees may encounter.

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1 HBR, Making Star Teams Out of Star Players

2 HBR, How to Keep A Players Productive

3 HBR, Seven “Non-Negotiables” to Prevent a Bad Hire

4 ManpowerGroup, 2016-2017 Talent Shortage Survey

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