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Best Screening Questions to Ask a Job Candidate

Best Screening Questions to Ask a Job Candidate

The goal of screening job candidates is to give you more insight on the best people for the job. It allows you to screen out the wrong options and not waste your time interviewing more people down the road. But the quality of questions that you ask determines how well you can differentiate the candidates in the process. Asking about the person’s motivations, beliefs, and vision for the role will also enable you to make an educated opinion about them.

Through systematic research, we have pulled together the essential things to inquire about each candidate in the application process.


Can you share something about yourself that a lot of people don’t know?

Assking someone to tell something unique about themselves is the perfect first question. It allows the interview to begin on a personal note and break the ice immediately. The candidate will feel comfortable right away because they get the opportunity to share something unique.

For the company, it provides you with information that differentiates the candidate’s personality or experiences. The applicant will also perceive that this is not another standard interview, which separates your organization from most.


If there is a part of your past that you could go back and change, what would it be?

By asking this question, you provide the candidate the opportunity to explain a vital life lesson gained from a challenging experience. As the company, you need to analyze what he or she learned, and how it will benefit your organization going forward.


Can you describe your dream role to me?

When a candidate describes a dream role, it reveals his or her motivations, skills, and personality. As the company, you can see how these three things align with a specific position. Through this response, you learn more about the person beyond the capacity of the role. It might give insights into an opportunity for a different role at the company that the candidate could be a better fit.


Describe the type of supervisor you like, and one that you don’t like?

If you ask a question about past supervisors, the candidate will give you an idea of how he or she likes to interact with coworkers and superiors. You can find out more about the attitude and maturity of an applicant through this inquiry. If your organization is figuring which candidates to place on specific teams, this question can help you out tremendously.


Describe a work environment that would enable you to be most successful?

According to Morgan Hunter Corporate Research, this question gives insights into how well the candidate will fit in with your company culture. If the applicant’s motivations align with that of your company, this can be an essential indicator to move forward in the application process. This question also shows the candidate’s personality, tendencies, and ideal conditions to be most productive.


What is the most significant risk you have taken in your career?

Answering this question will allow the candidate to open up about transformative experiences in his or her career. Asking about risk-taking will give you an idea about the applicant’s personality and creativeness. If he or she is not open to taking risks, you may not want to move forward if you are screening for a role that requires a lot of innovation.


What would be the first few things you would do in this role if offered the position?

This question might be better for later interviews, but it tells you if the candidate fully understands the scope and responsibilities of the position. Based on the answer, it can also provide the level of motivation the person has for the role and the company. More importantly, the response will show you the applicant’s vision for achievement in the position and how he or she wants to improve the company.


Why are you leaving your current company?

This question can paint a good picture of the applicant’s professional history. When the candidate talks about a past company, it will tell a lot about his or her character. Is it words or respect, or is the applicant bad mouthing old coworkers? Pay close attention to this response because it will give insights into any red flags this candidate brings to your company you are trying to grow.


What excites you most about the position and company?

When a candidate answers this question, you can find out a lot about his or her passion. It shows how much research got done and what he or she values most. If they list out specific things about the position or company, it can allow you as the company to utilize the applicant in a better way if offered the job.


Explain a time when you had to work with someone that was challenging to get along with. How did you deal with it?

The candidate may be smart and qualified for the job, but how well does he or she collaborate with others? It is vital to interact and be successful with a variety of different personalities. How the candidate answers this question will give you significant insights into his or her levels of emotional intelligence. For the success of your company, employees need to be flexible in the face of change, and this question will tell a lot about the applicant’s ability to adhere to that.


Can you name a time you showed leadership through your actions? Describe that time to me.

When you hire candidates, you are hiring them for the long term. You expect them to grow and develop with the progress of the company at the same time. Make sure to ask the candidate about specific examples of prime leadership and the influence of other people. The quality of this answer will show you the growth potential at your company. The response can also display a transformative experience and how the lessons learned will transfer to your company.


Share an instance when you had to leverage several projects and deadlines at the same time. How did you manage your time, and what was the final result?

Prioritization is crucial for a fast-paced job with a lot of moving parts and responsibilities. The answer to this question will explain how skilled the applicant is at time management and the ability to handle stress. Most jobs will require tasks and that do not fit within the job description. How willing will the candidate be to accomplish these things and go the extra mile? Pay attention to this answer carefully because it will dissect how organized the person is and their process of handling high-volume workloads.


When was the last instance you sought feedback from your supervisor or superior? Why and what did they say?

This question is one of the more important ones on the list because it gives you a second opinion on what others say about the candidate. It is just like checking references, but you can find out right away within the scope of a direct conversation. The answer to this question will add depth to the person’s strengths and areas for improvement.

It also shows how motivated the applicant is for growth potential in the future. It takes someone of high maturity to approach a superior and ask for feedback. If a candidate explains how he or she has done this in the past, it is a good sign you can expect that your company.


Why do you want to work here?

This question will give you final insight into what brought the person to this position in life. It also reveals what will motivate them to leave his or her current role. More importantly, it gives you essential info on how you can retain the candidate if you end up hiring them.


Final Takeaways: Look for the Passion in the Candidate’s Voice

When deciding which candidates to bring on board, it is crucial to pay close attention to the passion in the person’s voice. Everyone can prepare great answers for an interview in advance, but how badly does the applicant want the position? It is not what you say, but how you say it. Step back and analyze how closely the candidate’s personality and motivations align with the vision and values of your company. You are building a dream, so you want to partner with team members who will work hard to do the same.