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Popular Interview Questions and How to Use Them

popular interview questions

When it comes to interviewing, best-in-class recruiters and hiring managers often rely on some of the most popular interview questions. These interview questions are most-used for a reason — they’re easy to remember and they help you identify top tier talent.

Here are the most popular interview questions and how to use them.

What makes an interview question popular?

A popular interview question is one that gathers basic information on a candidate. These commonly used interview questions are great for learning background information on a specific candidate and are recommended for use during the initial screening and phone screening periods of the recruitment lifecycle. 

List of Popular Interview Questions

  • Can you tell me about yourself?
  • What from your past experience makes you a good fit for this role?
  • Why are you currently evaluating new opportunities?
  • What do you hope to gain from a new position?
  • What type of work environment do you prefer?
  • Tell me about one of your favorite managers. What did you appreciate about their leadership style?
  • Can you tell me about a time you disagreed with a decision that was made at work? Why?
  • How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations?
  • What gets you most excited about our job description?
  • What gets you most excited about working at our company?

How to Use These Popular Interview Questions

Can you tell me about yourself?

This common interview question is used to get to know the candidate. Asking an open-ended question like this allows them to get comfortable and talk about topics that they’re interested in. This is a great question to ask as an “ice breaker” and to get a feel for their candor with you and potential personality fit with your company.

As CEO of one of the world’s largest search firms, Gary Burnison explains one of the best answers he’s ever heard in this post by CNBC. In this article, he shows that sometimes the best answers aren’t necessarily about the candidate’s professional experience.

What from your past experience makes you a good fit for this role?

This popular interview question is used to see how the candidate links their past work history with the job description. It’s particularly helpful to ask this question when evaluating high-potential or candidates looking to ascend into new responsibilities. Use this question to learn about their previous work history and how they would apply their various skills/experience to the responsibilities of your open role.

Why are you currently evaluating new opportunities?

Rather than asking a candidate “what” companies they’re also evaluating, try asking them “why” they’re currently evaluating new opportunities. Understanding their current reasons for hunting for a new job provides valuable insight into the type of culture they’re looking for, leadership style, and/or responsibilities.

What do you hope to gain from a new position?

By asking this question, you can get a better idea of whether the candidate is looking for a new position simply for a pay raise, or if they’re looking for a better culture, work/life balance, or new challenges. If they care about constantly developing and being challenged, then you’ll know what you and your team will need to do to keep them engaged and to reduce their likelihood to churn as an employee.

What type of work environment do you prefer?

Culture plays a large part in a candidate’s decision-making. Learn if your candidate is seeking a position that grants greater autonomy, or if they want something that feels more like a second family. This important information to gain in determining if the candidate will be a great addition to your company. 

Tell me about one of your favorite managers. What did you appreciate about their leadership style?

A vast majority of employees quit because of poor leadership styles and fits. Learn what your candidate views as effective leadership to ensure they’ll align with the boss/manager of the role at your company. 

Can you tell me about a time you disagreed with a decision that was made at work? 

Employees will not always agree with decisions that are made. This gives you the chance to learn about a decision that your candidate opposed, and their thought process as to why. Knowing that your candidate is willing to provide a different idea and point of view is essential in landing a hire that can be transformative to your company.

How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations?

It goes without saying that work is stressful, especially in time of high-growth. When your office becomes a pressure-cooker of deadlines and priorities, you want to make sure your new hires don’t have nervous breakdowns, yell at colleagues, or quit. This is why it’s important to learn that your candidate has been in high-stress environments and has a healthy way of dealing with stress.  

What gets you most/least excited about our job description?

You don’t want to be a stepping stone for a talented candidate who’s looking for a temporary payday as they find their next gig. You want to choose the candidate that is excited about the role at your company and is motivated to come to work every day to do their job. This popular interview question helps you understand their motivations as well as the parts of the job they’re most and least excited about.

What gets you most excited about working at our company?

Hiring for culture has become one of the hottest criteria for modern recruiters. And 46% of job seekers even cite company culture as the main reason for applying to a job. Using this interview question, you can learn the specific reasons why your candidate is excited to work for your company, and which ones won’t be a good fit. 

Final thoughts: Popular Interview Questions

Using common but popular interview questions, you can uncover valuable information on your applicants. Remember to use these primarily during the initial phone screenings and “getting to know you” phases of the interview process. As you proceed through the recruiting lifecycle, you’ll want to ask more detailed questions, such behavioral interview questions that delve into technical and real-world skills.]