Recruiters share their favourite interview questions and why

Some interview questions are tricky and others straightforward. Knowing what you’re going to be asked and why can make an interview so much more successful. 

So we asked two top recruiters to share their favourite interview questions and the thinking behind them. The questions could be about your experience, but recruiters are just as interested in how you work with others and will bond with the team.

The questions could be about your experience, but recruiters are just as interested in how you work with others and will bond with the team.

Penni Hlaca, regional general manager at Randstad likes to ask candidates challenging questions which put them on the spot. That shows how you respond under pressure. Many of her questions focus on behaviour.

Penni’s favourite questions include:

  • What do you know about the organisation and why do you want to work there? This question serves three purposes: it puts you on the spot so she can see how you respond under pressure; it shows if you’ve done your research; and it indicates if you’re interested in the role and organisation.
  • Describe your most challenging colleague and how you overcame a conflict. This is one of several sticky behavioural questions Penni asks. “Generally interviewees can be placed into two camps: those who aren’t willing to shoulder any responsibility and those who are able to work-through conflict situations to find a resolution.”
  • What do you believe success will look like in the role? This demonstrates whether you understand what is required in the role. “As a follow-up question, I like to ask how long they think it will take them to achieve success. This indicates to me how they believe they will cope in the role. A great way to answer this question is to reflect on your previous roles. You could provide examples of when and how you achieved this success in the past.”

Peter Noblet, senior regional director at Hays, says his favourite questions include a number related to the position and your qualifications. He also favours behavioural questions. 

Some of Peter’s top qualification and experience questions include:  

  • Why do you think you are qualified for this position? This shows your understanding of the position and how you tailor your experience to be relevant. Remember that qualifications mean educational, employment-related and any relevant volunteer work.
  • What relevant experience do you have? This is all about finding out if you really understand the role. Look at your experience and align it to the role. Your experience could be from employment, volunteer roles or education. If, for example you want to be a journalist, your experience volunteering at a student radio station counts. 
  • What are your career objectives? This question reveals your ambition and whether it aligns with the company. “It’s not just a job it’s an opportunity,” he says.

Towards the end of the interview Peter asks a series of probing, incisive behavioural questions designed to find out about your ability to work in a team, your creativity and innovation, decision making ability, business awareness and/or conflict resolution abilities. 

Some of his favourite behavioural questions include:  

  • Describe a situation in which you didn’t meet your stated goal. How did you handle it?
  • Tell us about a situation in which you encountered resistance from key people? How did you convince the person or people to do what you wanted?
  • Describe a situation in which you took the initiative to change a process or system and make it better. How did you identify the problem? How did you go about instituting change?

Do you have answers to all of the questions in this article? If not, practice until you do.