Coburg Banks | Multi-sector UK recruitment agency

80 Interview Questions You Could Ask Job Candidates

By Anthony Hughes | Apr 4, 2016 | Assessing Applicants

cartoon businessmen holding question marksGetting a bit bored of asking the same old questions in interviews?

Sometimes, you just need to stir things up a bit!

So this week I thought I’d put together a super-list of interview question inspiration just for you…

(You can even print off this page – for future reference)!

Hope you find it useful.

The Basics

The basics are those questions that you should try and squeeze into every recruitment process.

Not too challenging, they’re great for easing candidates into the interview, determining their genuine level of interest in the vacancy and figuring out whether they’re actually right for the role.

Question 1: How did you find out about our vacancy?

Question 2: Why do you want this particular job?

Question 3: Why are you leaving your current company?

Question 4: Tell me a bit about yourself.

Question 5: What makes you the right person for the job?

Question 6: What makes you better than the other candidates?

Question 7: What were your responsibilities at your last workplace?

Question 8: What’s your greatest weakness?

Question 9: What’s your greatest strength?

Question 10: What do you know about the industry?

Question 11: What do you know about the company?

Question 12: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Question 13: What are your long-term goals for the future?

Question 14: What do you like to do in your spare time?

Of course, you may also have some basic fact-finding questions you should include early on in the process…

Question 15: What are your salary requirements?

Question 16: Do you have a driving license?

Question 17: Why is there a gap in your employment history?

Question 18: Does the location suit you?

Question 19: Are you willing to/capable of travelling across the UK for the role?

Great (prepared) candidates will evidence good knowledge of the company, industry and role and will be aware of their own strengths and weaknesses – whilst also actually being right for the job.

Recruiter Pro Tip

One question you should ALWAYS ask is…

Question 20: Have you got any questions for us?

This will reveal how keen a candidate really is. (Passionate candidates will bring some great questions about the company, industry and culture along with them).

You can use these basic questions in all types of interviews, from telephone to panel.

Personality Questions

These questions will help you to delve a little deeper into the candidate’s personality, outside of work, which is important when assessing their ability to fit in with your team and company culture.

Question 21: How would your best friend describe you?

Question 22: How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Question 23: What book do you think everybody should read?

Question 24: What’s the last book you read? Or film you watched? Or event you attended?

Question 25: What has been your greatest personal achievement?

Question 26: Are you competitive outside of work?

Question 27: Do you have any other commitments outside of work, for example, voluntary positions?

Question 28: Tell me something about yourself that I don’t know from your CV.

Question 29: What are your favourite/least favourite things in life?

Question 30: Do you have any pets?

Be on the lookout for interests and traits the candidate might have in common with your current staff.

For more insights, check out this blog dedicated to personality questions.

Professional Personality Questions

These personality questions are a little different because they’re aimed at revealing a candidate’s professional persona.

How do they like to be managed? What are their motivators? In what environment will they flourish?

Question 31: What do you like most about your job and why?

Question 32: What do you like least about your job and why?

Question 33: How do you like to be managed?

Question 34: Who is the biggest influence on your career?

Question 35: What do you do to get ‘in the zone’?

Question 36: What motivates you?

Question 37: What kind of counter-offer would you accept from your current employers?

Question 38: Do you prefer working as part of a team or individually?

Question 39: What’s the most important thing you look for in a job?

Question 40: What’s the environment like at your current place? Do you like it?

You should be on the lookout for signs that a candidate will (or won’t) fit in with your management style, team and company culture in general.

Competency Questions

You can use competency questions to assess a variety of different skills and attributes.

Most, prepared candidates will be ready to answer these questions using the STAR method (see this blog, for more details) and will be able to give clear, honest examples…

Question 41: Tell me about a project you successfully completed as part of a team.

Question 42: Can you tell me about a situation when you personally had to solve a problem at work?

Question 43: Tell me about a time you had to solve a conflict at work.

Question 44: Can you give me an example of when you exhibited great communication skills?

Question 45: Tell me about a time when you successfully took on a leadership role.

Question 46: When’s the last time you learnt something outside of work?

Question 47: When’s the last time you had to persuade someone?

Question 48: Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a complaint from a customer.

Question 49: When was the last time you had to really think on your feet?

Question 50: What do you do to refresh yourself after a tough day at the office?

To delve even deeper, you could include some slightly tougher competency questions…

Question 51: Describe a time when you missed a deadline or target. What did you do to rectify this?

Question 52: Tell me about a time when you made a mistake at work. How did you rectify it?

Question 53: How do you go about setting goals for other people in your team?

Question 54: Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your Manager. What did you do?

Question 55: Give me an example of a personal goal you set & how you overcame obstacles to reach it…

Question 56: Tell me about a time when you didn’t agree with something, but had to do it anyway…

Question 57: When was the last time you had a disagreement with a colleague or customer? What happened?

Question 58: Describe your decision-making process…

Question 59: When was the last time you took a risk that didn’t pay off? What happened?

Question 60: Describe a time when you had to use your creativity to influence someone…

Left-field Questions

If you want to be even crueller, then you could throw in some tough and bizarre left-field questions.

Your candidates (probably) won’t be expecting these which means you’ll get a more natural response and insights into their true personality.

Question 61: How would you improve our company?

Question 62: What’s your dream job?

Question 63: If you could be a superhero, which would you be and why?

Question 64: What is your least favourite thing about humanity?

Question 65: Are you a lucky person? With examples…

Question 66: When I call your references, how will they describe you?

Question 67: What’s your USP?

Question 68: What was the last gift you gave someone?

Question 69: If you were a breakfast cereal, which one would you be and why?

Question 70: What annoys you most at work?

I’d only ever recommend using these if your interview is going a little too well and is perhaps a little too rehearsed – and only ever use one or two maximum.

They’re very off-putting and pretty intense, especially for less confident candidates.

(If you’d like to find out what kind of answers you can expect from these tricky questions – click here.)


The same goes for these tricky little brainteasers!

They are great for assessing critical reasoning skills and performance under pressure – but they are incredibly intense.

Question 71: An apple costs 40p, a banana costs 60p, a grapefruit costs 80p. How much does a pear cost?

Question 72: How many potatoes (in kg) does McDonald’s sell in a year in the UK?

Question 73: You get shrunk to the size of a penny and then thrown into an empty blender. You’ve got 60 seconds before the blades start to turn… what do you do?

Question 74: You have a 3-Litre jug, a 5-Litre jug, and an unlimited supply of mulled wine. How do you get exactly 4 Litres of mulled wine without estimating?

Question 75: Tracy’s mother had 4 children. The first child was named April, the second was named May, the third June. What was the 4th child called?

Question 76: How do you know if the light inside the fridge is on or off?

Question 77: How many calories are there in a grocery store?

Question 78: You reach the end of a treasure quest and you’re faced with two doors. Behind one door you’ll find the treasure, behind the other you’ll find a slow and painful death. Beside the doors stand two people, one always tells the truth, the other always lies. So what question do you ask them to find the right door? What would you do based on what they tell you?

Question 79: How many tennis balls could you fit in Wimbledon?

Question 80: If a lily pad doubles in size every day and fills a lake in 50 days, how long will it take to fill half the lake?

They’re definitely fun though, right?

For more (sometimes hilarious) examples, click here.

Feeling inspired?

I do hope that this blog post has given you a few things to think about – and some inspiration for your next round of interviews.

Recruiter Pro Tip

At Coburg Banks, we prefer to ease candidates into an interview with the basics then progress with a combination of personality, professional personality and competency-based questions.

We find left-field and brainteasers a little too intense (although they can be fun) – and often just plain bizarre!

It all comes down to preference – and exactly what your company is hoping to achieve.

If you’d like to receive more weekly blog posts about how to host a great interview and attract superhero staff to your business, simply click here to sign up to our weekly newsletter.

Good luck.

- Anthony Hughes

Anthony Hughes

Anthony is a recruitment veteran of 18 years and is also one of the original founders of Coburg Banks. He now trains recruitment consultants on the best methods to utilise when sourcing and assessing applicants for their clients. 


> More blog posts by Anthony Hughes

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