The best interview questions to ask

By Robert Half on 11th January 2023

The end goal of a job interview is to identify the best possible candidate for the role. You not only want to hire professionals who are technically sound, but those who are genuinely motivated to work for your organisation and build their career as part of your team.

A candidates answers can be really telling, helping you to figure out whether they are a potential match for your organisation and team or not. Taking time to prepare your interview questions will increase your chances of identifying the best candidate for the role.

Learn about the candidate

It's important to learn more about the candidate's professional journey, it'll give you insight into whether they will be well suited to tackle the tasks and challenges the role poses. This means asking them questions on both their current and previous roles, learning more about what they have done previously and understanding how they take on different responsibilities.

Interview question examples:

"Tell me about yourself"

Some candidates will tell you their entire life story, others will focus on one particular aspect and use it to pitch themselves to you. Look for candidates who can make points both profoundly and concisely, explaining how their interests, background or experiences are relevant to the job.

"What do you know about the company?"

Candidates should have carried out basic research about your organisation. After all, they have applied for a job with your business. But if they are serious about being selected, they should be able to do more than simply recite facts from your 'About Us' page. They should be able to talk about your mission, culture and values, and how they are eager to be part of what you do.

"What are your main responsibilities in your current role?"

Strong candidates will not just list what they do, they will explain how their role adds value to their team and company. They should offer insight into their specific skill set, and explain how this sets them apart from other members of their team.

"What are your key strengths and weaknesses in the workplace?"

Candidates should have plenty to talk about in terms of strengths, backing up their claims with evidence. This question can help to identify thoughtful, well-balanced candidates with a high level of self-awareness. This is often a great opportunity to ask questions around any interests or concerns you may have gathered from their CV.

"Has your role changed since you took it on?"

This question is an opportunity for candidates to show their innovative, creative side and explain how they have helped benefit the business. Those who have found solutions to the problems they encounter at work have an opportunity to show their ability and insight.

Assess the candidate's knowledge and experience

As an interviewer, you want to learn more about the candidate and find out their depth of understanding. Their CV should tell you whether they have the qualifications required for the job in question, but do they have the soft skills and practical expertise to actually deliver results?

Depending on the role you are recruiting for, you may also want to ask more general interview questions around the industry you operate in and their knowledge of it. This can help learn more about each candidate's commercial skills, which are needed to make decisions, implement strategy, deal with clients and/or partners, and take on leadership responsibilities.

Interview question examples:

"How have the previous organisations you've worked for maintained a profitable margin?"

Commercially-aware candidates will have insight into their organisation's business model, and be able to explain how it operates. If they're unable to answer this question confidently, it suggests they may not understand how their role integrates into the company.

"How do you think [an industry development] will impact on your role?"

The best candidates tend to be those who are genuinely interested in their work, and aware of what is happening in their relevant industry sector and business as a whole. They will read relevant reports and keep abreast of the latest developments. If candidates' lack awareness of major changes which will affect how they operate, it raises concerns about their overall commitment to their career.

Related: Onboarding process in the UAE: What to do and what not to do

Understand a candidate's suitability

A candidate may have a fantastic CV and be a proven performer, but are they going to be a good fit for the team? You want to hire people who can work effectively with existing members of staff, helping to boost productivity and morale rather than hindering it. As an interviewer, you need to learn about the candidate's attitude and approach to work, and their strategy for delivering results.

Interview question examples:

"What will your skills and ideas bring to this company?"

This question isn't just about skills, it's about where an employee fits into the organisation as a whole. What can they bring to the table that your organisation is lacking? Are they aware of where they would fit in? And where the boundaries of their role and authority exist?

"Do you prefer to work on your own or as part of a team?"

Few candidates will admit that they prefer to work solo, knowing the value employers place on collaborative work. But if an employee says they are a team player, they need to provide examples of how working together is beneficial. They should be able to give case studies of effective collaborative work from their own experience.

"How much direction and feedback do you need on a day-to-day basis?"

The best candidates will position themselves as independent, mature professionals, who can work effectively without supervision but also respect authority and take direction. You don't want to employ those who will just do their own thing, but equally, you can't hold employees' hands the whole time. You need someone between the two extremes.

"What have been your biggest individual achievements in the workplace?"

This question gives candidates another chance to provide evidence of the value they can add. Strong candidates will be able to offer facts and figures, detailing how much revenue they generated, or what efficiencies they achieved. They will be able to highlight both individual and team successes.

"How do you hit deadlines and meet targets, particularly at peak times?"

'Working quickly' is not necessarily the answer you want to hear. High-calibre professionals will know the value of managing their time effectively and prioritising certain tasks to meet deadlines. Those who are committed to building a career with your organisation will do so willingly, focusing on delivering a quality end result as a priority.

Related: Second interview questions to ask potential employees

Assess a candidate's intentions

It's also important to assess each candidate's motives in applying for the job. Professionals who genuinely want to work for you and develop in their role are likely to add greater value in the long term. They can help you build strong, sustainable teams which deliver consistent results and contribute to a healthier bottom line.

Interview question examples:

"What attracted you to this role and our organisation?"

This is another opportunity for candidates to prove they have the core skills you need and are a good cultural fit for the organisation. They should be able to say something more than 'it looks like an interesting job'.

"How can our organisation help you achieve career progression?"

Strong candidates will have a clear idea of how they want to develop and what they need to do to achieve their career goals. They should be able to identify scope for advancement, and potentially even quiz you on in-house opportunities. This will gather an idea whether or not they are a ‘job hopper’ and if they are going to use this job as a way to climb the ladder to progress their career.

"Where do you see yourself in five years' time?"

Candidates should have ambitions they can realistically achieve working for your organisation. It shows they are eager to develop but also level-headed - and a potential long-term option for your team. If candidates see your organisation as being a mere stepping stone to another job, they won't readily admit it. This is where your employers' intuition comes in handy.


You can contact our Robert Half UAE recruitment team for more support, or you can visit our advice page for more content like this.

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