5 best job fit interview questions to find the right talent

Last updated:
July 21, 2021
December 23, 2021
min read
Adrie Smith
Table of contents

With so many factors to consider before you make a candidate an offer, knowing the best job fit interview questions is essential for hiring teams. Asking the right questions about experience and qualifications are essential. But you also have to identify if the candidate will be happy working for your company.

By nature, people find it difficult to maintain a proactive and healthy attitude day in and day out if their environment doesn’t suit them. The long term effects are that people will try to escape their situation, and in the workplace that equates to high levels of absenteeism. Remember too, the candidate’s long term happiness at work isn’t your only challenge as a hiring manager; you also have to ensure that your existing staff will get along well with the new appointee.

Finding your best job fit interview questions

Unfortunately, there aren’t any set rules or structures that can be applied when compiling job fit interview questions for your vacancies. But there are a few things you may want to consider:

  • Customize per vacancy: Just as each person is an individual, so each vacancy must be analyzed so that you can identify crucial requirements.
  • Let them reflect your company culture: You also have to think about your company culture and internal structures as well as the environment in the department and the management style of the reporting line. The candidate you select must align well with every aspect of the job and your company if you’re looking for long-term tenure.
  • Keep in mind motivation: The level of the vacancy is also vital. Entry-level candidates are more trainable, but also often easily influenced. More senior-level candidates could be just as trainable but are less likely to be easily swayed. So if you have a junior candidate who has the skills, but doesn’t quite meet your motivational fit, they can learn. A senior candidate who falls short on motivational fit will probably not be a good appointment because they’re more set in their ways.

You’ll need to tailor your job fit interview questions to identify the right people or you could end up making poor hiring decisions. Just as much as you want your company to benefit, you want the candidate to be successful.

5 job fit interview questions for better hiring decisions

Because experience and qualifications are far easier to determine than motivational and cultural fit, we’re going to focus on the latter to make your interview process more straightforward.

Ask open-ended questions when looking for the right fit. Asking questions that allow for a “yes” or “no” answer won’t give you any insight into the person. Using the STAR interview technique to establish motivational and cultural fit is an excellent way to go.

The list of job fit interview questions below is not intended to be a template, but rather a guide to get you thinking. Collaborative hiring produces the best results, so work together as a team on the questions before the interview process launches. After each interview, compare notes to establish each team member’s interpretation of the candidate’s responses.

1. Tell me about the best job you’ve had so far.

What you’ll learn is what the candidate likes to do. It also gives you the opportunity to compare their likes with what your job entails and how your company operates.

Probe deeper by asking:

  • What job responsibilities did you enjoy most and least?
  • What was your environment/department like?
  • Tell me about your ideal manager and colleagues

2. Tell me about your ideal working environment.

Whether it’s a hypothetical or real environment, you’ll learn about personal preferences.

Identify what factors make this an ideal working environment, and then focusing on those factors, probe deeper by asking:

  • How would you feel if this environment changed suddenly?
  • How do you view colleagues: as individuals or as teammates?
  • How would you feel if a colleague/manager left the department?

3. Tell me about a time when you missed a deadline/made a costly mistake.

This question can measure two things: is the candidate willing to be honest and vulnerable? Do they view failure as a learning curve or shift blame?

Probe deeper by asking:

  • Was the task only your responsibility or was it a team effort?
  • If it was a team effort, were you the weak link in this instance?
  • How was the problem resolved?
  • How did you feel about it afterward?

4. Tell me how you feel about the companies you worked for previously.

You can learn a lot about a candidate’s attitude. People who speak well of past employers are still loyal, so they were most likely loyal and productive employees. People who are indifferent or badmouth previous employers probably had the same attitude while they worked there.

Probe deeper by asking:

  • Would you work for any of these companies again if they had a suitable vacancy?
  • Would you turn down a suitable offer if any of these companies approached you?
  • What did you like/dislike about any of these companies?
  • Would you refer someone to any of these companies?

5. Tell me what’s more important to you: delivering on your responsibilities or getting on well with your colleagues?

Depending on the type of position, this allows you to identify whether the candidate is a team player, a leader or someone who wants to please. Compile your job fit questions in line with the level and requirements of the job.

People who have a desire to please can fall in different ways depending on the environment and the job. If the position has no leadership requirement, they make great team players and are excellent at customer service. If it’s a leadership role, they could allow personal relationships within the team to stop them from taking action against slackers and unproductive team members.

Worst of all, their desire to please can result in their being taken advantage of by others. Often people with a desire to please end up suffering from burnout because they cover for others and take on responsibilities that aren’t theirs.

Probe deeper by asking (if it’s a leadership role):

  • How would you ensure that your team meets their deadlines?
  • How would you handle a subordinate who challenges your decisions?
  • How would you feel if you had to fire someone for a valid reason?

If it’s not a leadership role:

  • How would you handle a colleague who passes some of their work on to you?
  • What would you do if a colleague secretly asks you to cover for them?
  • What would you do if you know that a colleague is doing something that’s against the company’s policies/processes?
  • What would you do if a supervisor/manager keeps asking you to do things that aren’t your responsibility?

Job fit interview questions are only one part of an interview

The interview process comprises different evaluation aspects to establish which candidate is the most suitable for the job. No single part must be the sole deciding factor. That’s why collaborative hiring leads to fairness and transparency when it comes to the final decision.

Compiling and analyzing the job fit interview questions properly will give you a peek into the person behind that candidate. Each member of a hiring team will have their take on the answers to the questions listed, and that allows for broader decision parameters.

The job fit interview questions are still only a small snapshot of the person you’re interviewing. Ensure that you analyze and consider every level of the interview process before making a final decision.

Don’t overlook diversity

A quick word of caution: never ignore the value of diversity in the workplace.

Don’t set rigid parameters for responses to your job fit interview questions! If you do that over and over again, you could end up with a company staffed by people who all think alike and behave alike.

Although that might seem ideal, it will, in reality, hurt the success of your business. People who all think alike seldom challenge each other with new ideas. They’re also inclined to slip into a comfort zone because nothing is pushing them along.

A group of diverse minds that are all focused on the same goal, spur productivity and innovation. Consider this factor when analyzing the answers to your job fit interview questions. Although a candidate might give you an unexpected response, their attitude could be a breath of fresh air that adds value to your company.

The world around us is continually evolving and so must your business if you want to remain competitive. Consider diversity when compiling, asking and analyzing your job fit interview questions list.

You might just uncover a rough diamond who’ll take the job to new heights!

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