Top 10 Interview Questions to Ask at Interviews

Let’s face it, the cost of a wrong hire is much more than you can expect. Not only the direct costs such as training and salary are incurred, but there are also indirect costs such as the drop in team morale and overall productivity. Did you know the average cost of a wrong hire is 7 times a salary? Imagine the cost of a series of wrong hires. As a leading executive search firm, Citadel Search has interviewed many candidates so that we profile the best fit candidates to our clients. Therefore, we understand the importance of asking the right type of questions to recognise the eligibility, suitability and motivation of a candidate. The right interview questions can significantly improve your hiring quality and save costs for your company!

Can do? Will do? Organisational fit?

Consider these 3 factors when asking interview questions:

Can do? – This depends on the core competencies required for this job role. It is important to ensure that the baseline skills are present when the person is hired.

Will do? – Employee motivation dictates the level of commitment, drive and energy that the candidate can potentially bring to the company.

Organisational fit? – Employees are generally happier when they fit well in an organization which ultimately has a positive and direct impact on their productivity at work.

Keeping these 3 factors in mind, let’s dive deeper into the type of questions hiring managers should ask during an interview!

Top 10 Interview Questions that are the Most Useful and Interesting

Interview Question 1: What motivates you about this position/role?

Usually, Hiring Managers will ask the candidates why they want this job. Why not phrase the question in such a way as to determine the candidate’s motivations for applying for this position? You may discover their hidden inspirations for applying and certain facets of the job that interests them! Ask them to talk about it in more detail, so that you can gain a clear understanding of their expectations and whether the company truly can provide them with the right opportunities. Secondly, ascertain if the job can sustain their motivation factors. This is crucial. Most Hiring Managers become enamoured with the candidate’s technical fit but pay little focus on what are the candidates’ motivation factors. This is a mistake. If the motivation factors are not sustainable, they quit fast.

For example, if you are looking for a Sales Manager, and your organisation’s sales cycle is long and consultative but your candidate comes from a domain of short sales cycle, they may get easily demotivated if they don’t close deals quickly, even if they are highly successful salesperson in their past jobs. Hence spend time to ascertain if they are able to persevere and stay motivated. Or else, when the going gets tough, or when other opportunities that were similar to their past jobs knock on their doors, they may not stay.

Interview Question 2: Why should we hire you?

Find out what exactly the candidates can bring to the table, their main strengths and how their past experience can benefit the company. Do they meet the required qualifications? You should listen out to whether the candidate is speaking in terms of the company’s needs. Determine if the candidates know what your company is placing a great emphasis on and whether they can meet the needs of the company. Listen to hear authentic answers, not well-rehearsed phrases. We like candidates who are self-reflective and can be real to share their personal assessment if they fit. Not that we do not like confident candidates, there is a genius of the ‘and’ here, meaning we want to see confident and authentic candidates.

Interview Question 3: What did you engage in during the gaps in between your jobs?

Most hiring managers have a bias against candidates who have long employment gaps in between their jobs. Even though there is a negative stigma to long unemployment gaps, candidates should be given a chance. Avoid getting to a conclusion too quickly and making assumptions without gathering sufficient information from the candidate. At Citadel Search, we do not want to bypass potentially qualified candidates but instead, we listen to how they spent their time during this gap. Let’s not let our unconscious bias get in the way. There may be valid reasons if only you spend time to listen.


Ask openly about the gap. Ask if they have picked up any new relevant skills during this period of time which may be helpful to your company. Find out if they have kept up with the domain industry’s trends and how they have prepared themselves to return to the workforce.

Interview Question 4: What are your reasons for leaving (did you leave) your current job?

Such a question reveals a lot about the candidate as to whether they left for a good reason, voluntarily, and did he/she end on good terms with the company. Through their answers, you can predict if the candidate is likely to be responsible, loyal, has good relationship skills, or satisfactory performance at work. Look out for these behavioural patterns to determine their work ethics and job values which can be evaluated in the interview. You can foresee if they are the right fit for the company and their likely reasons for wanting to quit if you were to hire them.

We like candidates who are honest in their explanations since such information can be cross-checked with the referees. Most importantly, recognise if they are habitual job hoppers who make light of their jobs. You wouldn’t want history to repeat itself right?

Interview Question 5: What are your top 3 motivation factors for your next career move?

By understanding the top 3 most motivation factors that the candidate is looking out for in his next move, you will have a better gauge on what drives the candidate. This interview question allows you to determine whether he/she is a right fit for the company. A motivated employee is much more willing to invest his or her utmost at work, allowing the company to achieve higher levels of output.

The more common factors are career progression, work-life balance, opportunities, etc. Recognise their priorities in their career and determine if their expectations can be met by the company. However, go in-depth as candidates may not have seriously thought about these questions and may give superficial answers. Remember to focus on what the company can offer in order to find the right fit. Be honest if you cannot fulfil those motivations as they are intrinsically important to that candidate. Being open and transparent also paves the way to an effective mutually respectful relationship.

Interview Question 6: Tell me about yourself.

This is a very popular starter question among hiring managers. It gives a bird-eye view of the candidate’s professional history and how they present themselves. As a hiring manager, look out for these 4 main topics namely, their early years, education, work history and recent career experience as well as their career motivation factors.

Interview Question 7: How does your coworkers or boss describe you?

Interestingly, instead of asking the candidate to describe themselves, asking from a third party’s point of view invariably gives a more accurate representation of the candidate! This interview question often makes a candidate think more deeply and also may cause the candidate to take 2 steps back to reflect what his bosses describe him/her. The way to ask is “Suppose we right now, we were to do a reference check with your boss and ask him/her to describe you, what will be 5 key descriptors he will say of you?”

Interview Question 8: Share with me about your current job?

Such a question can evaluate a candidate’s communication skills while gaining insights into an individual’s current work experience that goes beyond the resume.

We believe in asking competency-based questions to find out in-depth key competencies he needs to demonstrate in the role in question. Hence we usually deep dive into the various competencies required. We believe in looking for patterns of past behaviours.

This is where we deep dive and go into depth of both technical and non-technical competencies, using competency based interviewing techniques. This is the most important part, where we evaluate his/her job fit to the role. The power is in the follow up questions in competency based interviewing. Read our other article, Competency Based Interview – Why Is It Better Than Instincts to get details.

Interview Question 9: What do you know about our company?

Through this question, you will know whether the candidate has done his/her homework of your firm and figure out if they are sincerely interested to work for the company. If the candidate gives false information about the company or the role, this is also a great opportunity to clarify their misunderstanding immediately. However, it is important to not be defensive. Most hiring managers do a poor job here, as they tend to oversell the job or defend the scope of the role. What is important is to represent the role accurately, so that the candidate will have a clearer idea of his/her personal pitfalls and not step into a role he/she may not be ready for.

Interview Question 10: What important trends do you see in our industry?

Find out if the candidate has done his/her research and is up-to-date with the ongoing trends in your industry. Listen out and determine if what they have shared is aligned with the direction of the company. We recall a client who puts high emphasis of candidates knowing their products and services. So we spent time to look out for candidates who were forward-thinking and informed on the latest insights in the industry and would spend sufficient time to read up about the organisation’s products and services. Candidates who can provide valuable inputs to the company demonstrate that they are passionate about their work. By recognising the industry trends, candidates can better contribute to the immediate needs of the company.

Get more information on what questions you should avoid asking as a Recruiter or Hiring Manager in  Job Interview Questions That Really Should Be Forbidden, you will get more insights that benefit you in your recruitment campaign.


And if you are not sure whether you are hiring the right candidate for your company, Citadel Search with over 15 years of experience, is trained to find the right fit and save costs for your company. Find out how our Executive Search service will benefit your company and contact us to ease your hiring process!

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