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Interview questions

Interview questions

Questions should be planned before the interview.  You can get help in planning interview questions from your People and OD Partner. 

All candidates are should normally be asked the same initial questions, although it's important that interviewers ask follow up questions to ensure you have sufficiently detailed evidence on which to make an assessment. So whilst the opening question may be asked of all candidates for the sake of consistency, it is inevitable that follow up questions will vary slightly.

Questions should focus on the skills, knowledge and experience needed for the job, as set out in the person specification and job description. 

Examples of questions

Different types of questions can help to reveal different kinds of information;

Open questions

Normally used as a starting point for questioning.  Open questions (e.g. “Tell me about…”) can help candidates to relax and encourage them to talk.  They avoid ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers and are a good starting point for exploring and gathering information.  They need to be followed up with more detailed probing questions to gather more detail.

Probing questions

Probing questions (e.g. "Exactly what happened next? or "Could you provide an example of …") aim to elicit more detailed information about the candidate.   Typically start with what, why, when, where, who and how.

Closed questions

Closed questions (e.g. "Would you be able to start next week?") are used to establish facts and clarify specific points. 

Situational/hypothetical questions

Situational questions (e.g. "Suppose you were asked to do...?", "How would you deal with a difficult customer?") involve asking candidates how they would react or behave in specific situations that might be encountered in the job in question. 

Such questions can result in hypothetical answers which may not always reflect how a candidate would behave in practice. They may be suitable where the candidate has limited experience. 

Competency/behavioural questions

Competency based questions aim to identify exactly how a candidate has tackled a real situation in the past. Competency based questions ask the candidate to provide a specific example.  An example might be "What did you do exactly?"  or "What did you learn from this experience?" .

Strengths based questions

Designed to find out about the strengths of the candidate and what they enjoy doing.  For example, 'what does a good day at work look like for you?'.