3 Types of Interview Questions and Techniques Employers Should Use

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Identifying the best candidate for the job starts with asking the right questions during the interview. 

While interviews can help evaluate the candidate’s skill sets and experience, it can also help you determine how they think and how they would fit into your company – but you have to ask the right interview questions. 

There are, however, limits to what you can ask.

So, we’ve broken down a few interview questions and techniques you should use during the interview, but also the questions you should steer clear of. 

 

3 Types of Interview Questions Employers Should Ask

To get the full picture of who your candidate is, employers should consider asking various questions. 

Some questions should give you factual information about the candidate’s skill sets and experience, while others should help you delve deeper into the candidate’s character and thought process.

Here are three types of questions employers should ask to get an overall view of who the candidate is and how they could contribute to your company:

 

1. Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions should be asked frequently throughout the interview because they are the type of questions that require the candidate to reveal their attitudes and opinions to various opinions. 

This kind of assessment will help you determine whether they can meet the position’s expectations and whether they will fit well into the team. 

You should start with an ice-breaker question such as “can you tell me about yourself?” 

It’s an excellent question to help you get a feel for the individual. It could also help settle the candidate’s nerves so that you can delve into more concise questions about their skills and experience. 

Other open-ended questions you should integrate throughout the interview process includes:

  • What attracted you to our company? 
    • The candidate’s answer will give you a good idea of whether they did their research on your company and are interested in being part of the team, or whether it’s just another job interview for them on a list of potential positions. 


  • What direction do you see your career taking in five years?
    • The answer should give you an idea of the candidate’s expectations and how they hope to grow from the position your company is offering.

 

  • Describe your strengths.
    • Look for the candidates who can relate their strengths directly to the position you’re looking to fill. Make sure to ask about examples of how their strengths have benefitted a previous employer or how they contributed to their professional success. 


  • Are you able to identify your weaknesses?
    • Enquiring about personal weaknesses can reveal useful insights into a candidate’s self-awareness and commitment to personal development. It can also identify red-flags and highlight problems you might face if you hire that employee. 

Ensure that your open-ended questions are specific enough to avoid the candidate having the opportunity to give you the answer you’re looking for. Asking questions that aren’t clear and concise could lead to the candidate digressing.

 

2. Closed-Ended Questions

Asking simple questions in between the more detailed questions can help the employee gather their thoughts and settle their nerves so that you’re able to extract useful information from the more detailed open-ended questions. 

Close-ended questions call for informational answers so that you can gain any factual information you might need.

For example, consider incorporating the following questions in between open-ended questions: 

  • Given the changes our world has faced, are you comfortable working remotely if need be?
  • How long were you employed with your last company?
  • Do you have experience with (specific software your company uses)? 
  • What are your salary expectations?

Note: be careful of asking too many close-ended questions back to back – you don’t want it to seem like you’re interrogating the candidate. Instead, incorporate them in between the longer open-ended questions. 

 

3. Practical Questions

This type of interview question sets up a hypothetical situation that the candidate has to respond to. They are useful when determining how the candidate will respond to actual job situations. 

The purpose is not to focus on the actual answer but instead on their approach to solving problems and thinking on their feet. 

You would want to tailor these questions to the job specifications but here are you could centre them on topics such as: 

  • working with team members who aren’t pulling their weight; 
  • missing a crucial deadline;
  • resolving a customer complaint or issue; 
  • dealing with employee conflict; and 
  • budgetary matters – for example, you’re allocated a budget to complete a particular task, how would you spend the money. 

 

Questions You Shouldn’t Ask During the Interview Process

There are limits to what employers can ask candidates during an interview. 

There are federal, state and territory laws in Australia to protect people from discrimination and harassment. 

For example, under the Equal Opportunity Act, an employer can’t request or require a candidate to answer a question that could be used to form the basis of discrimination. 

In other words, it’s illegal to ask questions about a candidate’s attributes such as their ethnicity or sexuality,  if they are irrelevant to the role being applied for.

Examples of questions that are generally illegal to ask in an interview because it’s unlikely to have any bearing on the candidate’s ability to perform the role include:

  • What is your ethnic background?
  • Do you subscribe to a specific religion? If so, what is it?
  • What political party do you support?
  • Do you have any disabilities – physical or mental?
  • Are you pregnant or hoping to start a family soon?
  • Are you in a same-sex relationship?

It’s similarly unlawful, in terms of the Fair Work Act 2009, for an employer to use any information obtained in an interview process to then discriminate against you based on:

  • race; 
  • ethnicity; 
  • sex;
  • sexual orientation;
  • age;
  • physical or mental disability;
  • marital status;
  • pregnancy;
  • religion; and
  • political opinion.

 

There is an exception in the Fair Work Act, which allows information to be requested if it’s reasonably required for a non-discriminatory purpose and directly impacts the candidate’s ability to perform their job. 

For example, a physically disabled candidate might have difficulty fulfilling a role that may require them to do some form of heavy lifting.

 

Key Takeaways

An interview is a crucial part of the hiring process. Ensuring that you take the opportunity to ask the right questions will give you a clearer overall picture of the candidate’s suitability for the advertised role.

Focus on integrating different types of interview questions, including: 

  • open-ended questions; 
  • close-ended questions; and 
  • hypothetical questions. 

Remember, however, there is a limit as to what you can ask. Ensure that you steer clear of any questions that have no bearing on the candidate’s ability to perform according to the job specifications. 

Another way to verify that you’re hiring the right candidate for the job is to conduct various pre-employment screening checks. 

The objective of screening is to better protect businesses from making poor hiring choices by enabling a more objective approach to the hiring process. 

VerifyNow specialises in helping businesses streamline their pre-employment screening service. We provide one of Australia’s most comprehensive screening services to help you make the best decision for your next hire. 

To find out how we can help you with your next hiring process, get in touch with us today.

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