9 Talent hunters share their favourite interview questions

Interviewing – the art of asking the right questions to elicit the response that will help you decide if a candidate is the one – is a much discussed topic in Talent Acquisition.
What should I be asking? How should I ask the question?
Here are some of the favourite interview questions that your peers believe should always be asked. What do you think? Use the comment section to share your thoughts and your favourite, go-to interview question.

Chloe Field
Talent Acquisition Partner at University of Melbourne School of Engineering

What has been one of your biggest achievements in your role?

It might seem like a simple question, but it sparks an interesting conversation that reveals a lot about a candidate and depending on the response, I’ll ask a series of follow-up questions to further understand the candidate’s specific role in delivering that accomplishment.

While it’s great for candidates to acknowledge a team effort, you need to understand how the candidate contributed to the team, and the net impact they had. A candidate who can’t clearly communicate their individual effort may be hiding behind the accomplishments of their colleagues.

Megan Kwee
Head of Talent Acquisition Strategy at Medibank

“What’s important to you about work?”

This tells a good story about a candidate and helps me to understand their motivations, drivers, their aspirations and what they really want out of a job/career.
It’s a great values-based question that helps me uncover if they are aligned with my organisation.

Nathan Anderson
Recruitment Leader at Virgin Australia

I always like to take the time to understand where someone is trying to get to, what is their end goal. This helps me with being able to manage expectations but also help them on their journey.

It is a valuable piece of information when it comes to ascertaining their motivations and the timeframes individuals are looking at.

Raquel Lemon
Talent Acquisition Manager at Vicinity Centres

“What would people who have worked closely with you say about you?”

I ask this question mainly to see how self aware the candidate is of their impact on their team and peers. Emotional intelligence can be hard to test for, so the answer to this question can offer valuable insight.

James O’Reilly
Talent Acquisition Manager at Xero

One question that comes up regularly at Xero is “Tell us about a time recently where you left work feeling energised. Why? what happened? what didn’t happen?”

This question ties in nicely with our philosophy on strength-based interviewing and it gives us a pretty good insight into what makes a candidate tick, what motivates them, what makes them happy and what makes them productive. 

James Witcombe
Recruitment Manager at SMAART Recruitment

I have two favourite interview questions. They are:

  1. “What single project or task would you consider the most significant accomplishment in your career so far?”… this questions is pretty famous and comes from Lou Adler
  2. “This role aside, what other types of positions are you interested in hearing about”. This is a great question as it encourages the candidate to answer from a different perspective rather than for the position they are being interviewed for. It also helps to show the recruiter whether the position in question is really what the candidate is looking for.

Tara Bodycote
Talent Acquisition Manager at Foxtel

For me, two of the most important questions are “Why do you want to work for us?” and “What interests you in the role?”.

Understanding the motivation and interest of a candidate, along with their understanding of the organisation and the passion they bring is crucial. It also gives candidates the opportunity to differentiate themselves by showing the background research they’ve done before their interview.

If/when you end up trying to decide between candidates with similar skills and capability, these questions can give you valuable insight to help make decisions.

Maree Foti
Talent Acquisition Practitioner

I always want to understand how the person landed in the moment. So for example, if I am recruiting a Talent Acquisition professional, I want to know how they came to identify this profession as a career and where they want to take it. Why they applied, and where they think the role fits in to their career journey.

I also focus on an individual’s passion – what is it that inspires that individual to do what they do? I am a firm believer that someone needs to love what they do to be successful or it needs to have a purpose that resonates with an ambition they are working towards.

Antonia Jennings
Head of Talent Acquisition APAC at Commvault

“What has attracted you to us/this role and why?” 

I use this with active candidates who have applied to find out what stood out about us. Candidates have so many companies to choose from its my responsibility to get this feedback and see where we’re positioning ourselves well or not. It also means I can see what specifically about the role interested them so later in the interview I can ensure I circle back on those points correctly. Most candidates have done their research at a top level but by having this in the conversation I can take them on the journey of where we’ve been, where we’re going and what the future holds at our company.

I also reverse this question when I’m speaking with passive candidates “I know you’ll be approached many times a week being in your position but what made us stand out, what caught your eye about the role I mentioned?” Again, this offers great insight on how we’re doing with our branding and messaging comes from this but also really interesting information on our market positioning, reputation and story.

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