Top recruiters share their favourite question to ask in an interview

One of the most nerve-racking things about a job interview is simply not knowing the questions you’ll face. But reading up on possible interview scenarios can help you feel more prepared. We’ve asked three top recruiters to reveal their favourite question to ask in interviews, and what they want to be asked in return.

What recruiters want to ask you

During a job interview, a recruiter will want to ask questions that give them insight into you and your fit for the role. Here three recruiters and winners of SEEK Annual Recruitment Awards (SARAs) share their favourite interview question of all time.

  1. Of all your roles to date, which is your favourite and why?
    Kristy McLaren – Director at McLaren 

    This is not a trick question and there is no right or wrong response. “This question gives a really good insight into someones drivers and motivations, the tasks they enjoy and the culture they thrive in and helps me to determine if the role we are talking about is going to be the right fit,” McLaren says.
  2. What will you do if you don’t get this role?
    Bianca Jones, New Zealand country manager of Talent International 

    The reason for asking this question is that it gives an insight into your motivation in applying for a particular role. “It lets us know your focus and what you are looking for, and it also covers off other avenues that we can explore if you are not successful,” Jones says.
  3. Tell me about the most frustrating person you have ever worked with.
    Andrew Nicol, founder of Agoge Recruitment

    “This question helps us understand not just what kind of person frustrates you, but what they were doing that caused the frustration,” Nicol says. “We also get insight into how you handled the person, which helps us understand how you will align to our values.”

What to ask in return

Interviews are a two-way street. While you’ll be at the receiving end of plenty of questions, asking some of your own can show a recruiter that you’re serious about a role, and have qualities that could suit it.

  • What does success look like in this role?
    “This question shows that the person is thinking beyond just what’s in the position description,” McLaren says. “They are seeking to understand what is expected of them, envisioning themselves in the role and determining how they might add value.”
  • What is the team like that I’ll be working with?
    “If you’re asking this question, chances are you are a team player,” McLaren says. Candidates should also ask about the key priorities or objectives for the role in the next six to 12 months, as well as about the culture of the organisation. “The worst question is no question,” she adds. 
  • Tell me about the culture of the team? How diverse is your team?
    Jones also looks for people who ask about the broader team attached to a role. “These questions show that you’re not just looking for dollars, but that the culture and diversity of an employer is key in your decision-making process,” she says.

Don’t be afraid to speak up

Nicol appreciates when people he interviews are prepared to put forward an opinion different to his. “Most people approach interviews wanting to say the right things to get the job,” he says. “When I see someone prepared to speak up in an interview, I know they will speak up and have a voice in the company and that will make us a more successful organisation.”

It’s not always easy preparing for an interview. But by thinking like a recruiter and exploring possible questions, you’ll be able to go in ready to give your best answers and present yourself with confidence.