Top interview questions for hiring managers

Questions employers really should ask

With remote working becoming standard practice across the globe, hiring managers have had to up their game when it comes to asking the right and relevant questions. Without the benefit of meeting face to face, it is more important than ever that the questions hiring managers ask really get to the bottom of the candidates skills, needs and requirements.

Over the past year or so, job-seekers have undoubtedly become more purpose-driven. This has meant that as a hiring manager, it’s more important to ask the “right questions” that get a feel for the person and what makes them tick. Asking things like “where do you see yourself in ten years” for instance isn’t really appropriate in the current climate - because none of us know what to expect right now. Whereas asking “What gets you up in the morning?” or “What’s your ideal job?” is much more motivating and exciting for a candidate in the current climate.

With that in mind, let's take a look at the top interview questions to ask candidates you want to get to know a little better.


1. What motivates you?

We will all have wildly different answers to this question, which helps you really get to know the person. The hiring manager may be quite touched by the answers to this one, as people often open up about the most important things in their life like their family, their dreams and ambitions and their past experiences that may have shaped what motivates them today.

There are a whole host of reasons that this should be asked, one of the main ones being that the question allows a hiring manager to see whether the candidate knows themselves well enough to say what drives them. It’s often harder to put into words than we think!

Whilst hiring managers can often get caught up thinking that motivation is always about free yoga sessions and juice bars, often what motivates people may be much different. Discovering a candidate’s motivations will help the hiring manager place them in a role that will fulfill them on a deeper level, and ensure that the company gets the most of the individual.


2. Tell me something about yourself that others may be surprised to know

This question seems a bit unconventional, however it is actually a great way to get someone to open up about themselves. We all have unique parts of our character and secret passions in life, and sharing those with someone else can feel empowering. This question will make the candidate feel like you’re really trying to get to know them, beyond the mask that they wear as the ‘job-seeker on their best behaviour”.

The cons of this question are that it might put them on the spot a bit, so beware that this question might need to be reserved for your more confident candidates. The question offers the hiring manager the opportunity to get to know a candidate better and connect on a deeper level, whilst also seeing how they respond to a bit of pressure.


3. What is your ideal position and why? 

Understanding the role that the candidate is looking for can be really valuable. As a hiring manager, it should be top priority to not only find the right talent for the role, but to also find a person who will enjoy the position they’re in. By matching the candidate with a position that suits their needs, it’s much more likely that they’ll stick around for longer.

Whilst this question may seem like it’s geared fully towards the candidates needs, it is also valuable for the business. Understanding their ideal role and why they think it would suit them can tell you a lot about a person. For example, where they see their future, what they see their key strengths as and how they want to progress in their career.


4. What’s your ideal working environment? 

We all know how important a good working environment is, however this can be different for different people. The ideal working environment is as varied and unique as we are. While some people prefer the sofa or couch, others can only work in a buzzy office. With everything that has been going on this past year, one thing is for sure - people feel more in control of their work environments and aren’t afraid to tell employers how they want to work.

Understanding their environmental needs will help you see whether this is going to be a good fit. For example, if they love working from home but the company has a rigid wfh policy then it’s important that this is flagged.


5. Describe the best manager you’ve had, and why?

This question helps the hiring manager understand what kind of management style they prefer, and this can be really important when planning out how they will fit in the team. If a hiring manager knows that a team has a very flexible manager, it will be crucial to decipher whether the candidate can cope with this management style in the interview.

We should really be asking this question, as it gives insight into the kind of team player they will be. You might have the most talented person on your team, but if they can’t work under the manager that is currently in place, they might not be a good fit.


6. What do you believe success will look like in the role? 

Asking them this question will enable you to understand how they will approach the role, and grasp what they think the role is. It can be common for people to have a bad experience whereby the job they interview for turns out to be different to the job they end up doing. This is a challenge for the interviewer, because in a short space of time you have to get a feel for the candidate, assess their skills and also tell them about the role.

Asking this question helps you cut down the time you need to explain the role and its responsibilities - as they may already have a great idea. Understanding what success in the role would look like to them will tell you instantly whether you’re on the same page, and whether this person really ‘gets’ the role.


7. What are your career objectives?

This is a great question to get the candidate talking a bit more about their hopes and dreams. As a recruiter, it’s important that we hear what the candidate wants from a job so that you can sincerely match them with an opportunity that aligns with their objectives. 

Career objectives are something that we rarely talk about, but that most people have a clear idea of. Asking them this question will give them the opportunity to share what they really want from their career, and in turn discover whether your organisation can give that to them.


8. How have you handled working from home?

Given the current working from home situation, many job interview questions have a mix of working from home based competencies and old school behavioural questions. Adding WFH questions allows a hiring manager to understand how the candidate works best, and assess how that maps onto the company work style. Exploring how a person handled the loneliness of lock down and the challenges of this new work style can also be a good indication of their coping strategies and help to get to know them better.

Some similar questions on working from home could be:

  • How did you manage effective communication and collaboration whilst working from home?
  • How do you manage your time?
  • How do you stay motivated and engaged?
  • Tell me about a major mistake you made, and what you did to correct it.
  • Tell me about a goal you recently achieved. What did your initial plan look like? What worked particularly well?
  • How do you balance work and life?


More Generic Interview Questions That Often Come Up

These are often great starting questions to ease a candidate into the interview, and shouldn’t require too much brain power. They are nice ice breakers, and help build that rapport and trust between candidate and hiring manager. Take a look at the 10 more generic interview questions that often come up:

  1. Why are you interested in working here?
  2. Why do you want to leave your current employer?
  3. Are you willing to relocate?
  4. Are you willing to travel post Covid-19?
  5. What is your dream job?
  6. Describe yourself.
  7. What are your salary requirements? (TIP: review our salary guides before firming up an answer to this one!)
  8. What’s your availability?
  9. What are your strengths/weaknesses?
  10. What questions do you have for me?


Learn more with Boston Link

Interviewing new candidates isn’t easy, but with some solid interview questions by your side, you should thrive as a hiring manager. These questions are less conventional but will make the interview a more insightful experience that tells you much more about the person.

As recruitment specialists, we have plenty of knowledge to share when it comes to nailing the interview process. For more information, head to our blog to discover the top Ted Talks that will inspire your talent acquisition strategy.