Interview questions are a recruiter’s choice of tool to weed out the paper prospects from the physical stand-outs and they run the gambit from weird to blunt. Some questions border on the abstract: how much heavier is a mouse than an elephant? How much do you charge to wash every window in Seattle? Some are oldies that even the most inexperienced job-seekers have heard: where do you see yourself in five years? Why should I hire you?
As a recruiter, you might be looking for new ways to get the information you need out of your candidate or listen better to the answers you get. You never want a perfect candidate to slip through the cracks; or a less-than-perfect candidate to take an important spot on your team.
These interview favorites of our FindSpark employers offer up a few new perspectives on interview questions that might come in handy.
“For entry or junior-level candidates, I ALWAYS ask a series of questions: “Why advertising? Why Grey? (and when applicable) Why Brand X?”
This should turn into an easy conversation (for one) and helps me understand both their point of view as a candidate and their ability to communicate that articulately. I think this would apply to any industry or company really.”
– Joshua Huff-Williams of GREY
“A good question to ask people is: “If I call the last company you worked for, what would they say you’re famous for?“
You learn from that what the lasting mark the candidate believes the made. What value they added. What they think their strength is without needing to answer the question: what are your strengths and weaknesses?”
– Recruiter from Cooladata
“It depends on the role.
If I have an editorial person I’ve probably already read some of their stuff, and if there’s a piece I really like, I’d ask what possessed them to go down that route.
If it’s an intel dev, most of the time we’ll know the languages that the company uses, the CMS and everything, or a project they’re working on. I’ll make a joke about it using coding language, basically breaking the ice and kind of maybe catching them off-guard a little bit so that they understand that they can’t get by with what they’re used to just regurgitating on a regular basis.
One of my favorite questions is let’s not talk about this role. Let’s see what you might be wanting to do afterwards so that we can see if it’s even a match from the standpoint of will this get you to where you ultimately want to go and if you fit in the company at the same time.”
– Drew Hopkins of EliteDaily
“I love details! So I love when they are super familiar with certain articles, writers, or even our history.
I think the best answers are those that really nail our mission (that is, they love our feminist site where they can get all the news they want/need in one place).”
– Alexandra Finkel of Bustle
“‘Tell me about a time when something went wrong/you made a mistake and you had to come up with a plan B’
I love this question because it’s a more accurate way to learn about stories people don’t love telling—the time when things didn’t go according to plan. It shows you how a candidate reacts under pressure and thinks on their feet with evidence not a “well I would___”. If someone has never made a mistake or has never had anything go wrong that’s a big red flag for me.
‘Tell me about your favorite product, how you discovered it, and what you like about it’
—this is a pretty specific question to my industry and the function I interview for, but it tells me a lot about whether a candidate is an early adopter (are they finding the products, how are they doing so…) but also how detail oriented they are. (“I love the applicator because it feels soft on my lips and evenly distributes product”). It also tells me if they think of products on a macro or micro level (I like it because it works… vs more specific details). This could be a great question that can be customized to any industry or even to learn about people’s passions and their level of thought process/discovery.”
– Michelle Corbett of L’Oreal
With the right questions, the candidates tell you themselves if they’re meant to be in their company and role. These questions get into the mindset of the candidate, figure out how they think as individuals, dig into if (and how thoroughly) they did their research, and make sure they want the job they’re interviewing for.
These recruiters are the best of the best; that’s why they’re all FindSpark employers, several of them hiring with us for years. If you want to see how we work with our employers, check out our employers page and find out how to become an annual member here.