The Most Unique Questions to Ask Job Applicants

The Most Unique Questions to Ask Job Applicants

While the questions an HR professional or hiring manager should ask during an interview will vary depending on the role they are seeking to fill, there are some specific questions that can provide valuable insights into a candidate.

The following example questions may not be necessary for all interviews, but incorporating some or all into your general interview process may help you find better employees when filling various roles.


  1. “What professional achievement are you particularly proud of?”

Applicants want to make sure they demonstrate why they are the ideal fit for a job. Thus, they often think about their most impressive professional achievements prior to interviews and may actively look for opportunities to talk about said achievements during the interview process.

This can distract them from providing relevant answers to the other questions you ask; giving them the chance to directly address an achievement they want to speak about helps you avoid this issue. More importantly, their answer will reveal their strengths and give you a better sense of what they value.

Some candidates might be proud of their sales record. Others might be proud of how they adjusted to a difficult work situation. The answer they provide to this question lets you know what qualities they think are important in a professional role.




  1. “How would you pitch our company?”

Obviously, a potential candidate may not thoroughly understand the culture of your business or the services you offer—they’ll need to spend a certain amount of time with the company to truly appreciate it.

Yet, you do want to find candidates who have done some degree of research and express interest in your organization. That’s why this question can yield valuable insights. Asking an interviewee to speak to you as if you were a potential customer helps you determine just how passionate they are about your business. It also demonstrates whether they know exactly what products or services you provide.


  1. “Why are you leaving your current job?”

Obviously, this question will not apply if a candidate is currently unemployed. However, if a candidate is planning to leave a job they have now for your business, they must have their reasons. Finding out what those reasons are will help you know whether they’re the right fit for a role. For example, if they have complaints about their current employer that can also apply to your business, they may not thrive at your company.


  1. “How would you define hard work?”

This is often a much more important question than many people realize. The way in which a candidate defines hard work offers a look into how they will perform on the job.

Some people define hard work as putting in long hours. Others define it as reaching key milestones ahead of schedule. For some candidates, the definition may involve engaging with the job and constantly developing their skills. There will also likely be candidates who embrace a “work smart, not hard” approach.

There isn’t any “right” answer to this question. You’ll have to identify the top performers in your organization first, determining what qualities they possess that make them the kinds of hard workers you value. Looking for candidates who also value these qualities makes it easy to find someone who will succeed.




  1. “What do you do for fun?”

It’s easy during the interview process to forget that you are speaking with a human being. Treating them solely as a cog in a machine who offers a valuable service limits your ability to assess whether they are a match for the company culture. While you shouldn’t base your hiring decision solely on their answer to this question, you should ask it to expand your overall understanding of who an applicant is and what they care about.


  1. “How have you developed professional skills in the past?”

There’s a decent chance anyone you hire won’t possess all the skills they need to thrive in the position. As such, you’ll want to find out how they’ve gone about developing their skills in prior roles. While some candidates may rely solely on the business to provide them with the resources they need to grow, others may be proactive, taking steps on their own to improve. You might also want to ask them about skills they’re currently planning on building. This demonstrates what they consider to be valuable.

True, you should focus on job-specific questions when interviewing applicants, but it’s also useful to include questions like these. The way candidates answer them can say a lot more than you may realize.

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