Tough Job Interview Questions You Should Be Asking

Tough Job Interview Questions You Should Be Asking

As a hiring manager, there several things you want to know about potential candidates. You want to know that they’ll be hard workers, that they have the skills required for the position, and that they’re bringing a great attitude to your workplace. There are some questions that are hard to ask when you’re sitting in an interview–and hard to answer when you’re sitting on the other side of the table–but these tough questions are critical to getting to know your candidates.Interview Questions You Should Be Asking

1. What salary range do you expect from this position? Whether you’re working for an environmental firm or a construction company, you want to set this question on the table early. Your goal is to get the candidate to name a number–hopefully a lower number than the amount you’ve got budgeted.

2. Why are you leaving your current position?
This question puts the candidate on the spot, but it will also tell you a lot about their personality. There are several key things to look for in the answer:

    • Does the candidate list things that are equally common in the position they’re applying?
    • How does the candidate talk about their former employer?  
    • Does the candidate have a laundry list of complaints from their previous jobs?
    • Is the candidate positive about new career opportunities with your company?

3. Have you ever been fired or laid off from a previous position? Why? Ouch! The best candidates may have stories about past failures that led to them being laid off–and those stories are things you need to know about them before you hire them. If you’re going to ask this question, however, be sure you give the candidate an opportunity to prove the changes they’ve made as a result of being fired in the past. For example, a construction worker who was guilty of slacking off on job sites in the past might have become an exemplary worker since then. An engineer who was always late might have developed new habits so that they’re always the first one at a meeting. Give candidates room to grow, but understand their past failures, too.

4. Why should I hire you? Some candidates will go blank when they hear this question. Asking it, however, will give you a look at how the candidate views themselves and how they’ll perform in the position. How you ask this question, from your tone of voice to your body language, will help set the stage for the candidate’s answer.

5. What do you need, other than money, in order to ensure your job satisfaction? This is the candidate’s opportunity to tell you what they’re really looking for in their dream job–and your chance to learn whether or not your company can provide it. If the candidate’s expectations are far too high for your firm to reach, they might not be the right one for your open position.

6. Imagine giving your last boss a performance review. What do they need to improve? The candidate’s answer will give you a good look at their personality. It’s not information about the boss you’re looking for; instead, you’re looking to see what the candidate expects in a boss and how they handle things that they don’t like in a person.

7. What is your greatest weakness? Every candidate has a weakness. Most of them will try to give you an answer that they don’t see as being a true weakness. The best candidates, however, will give you a look at how they’re learning to overcome those weaknesses or how they have turned them into strengths.

Asking the right questions in a job interview is just as important as knowing what answers you’re looking for. Ideally, you want to ask questions that will help you learn more about the candidate’s deeper personally. The best questions will catch them slightly off-guard, without a prepared answer at hand. As you delve into those questions, you’ll get a solid look at what’s really behind a candidate’s interview persona–and that will go a long way toward helping you make hiring decisions.

Michael DeSafey is a leading executive recruiter for professionals in the construction, engineering and environmental industries. He is currently the President of Webuild Staffing To learn more about Michael or to follow his blog please visit