What are job candidates' preferred interview questions?

Hiring managers should 'strike the right balance' between conventional and out-of-the-box questions, says expert

What are job candidates' preferred interview questions?


Knowing the perfect answer to an interview question is always a challenge, but a recent survey provides insights into job candidates’ preferred queries.

Released by Yoh, a talent and outsourcing company, the survey of 2,084 American adults could help employers revamp their interview processes to better attract and engage top talent.

When asked which questions they would most like to be asked during a job interview, job candidates’ top choice, preferred by 54% of respondents, was “What do you think makes you a good candidate for this job?”

Other preferred questions include:

  • “What soft skills do you possess that would make you a good candidate for this job?” (46%)
  • “What did you like most about your last job?” (45%)
  • “What is an accomplishment you are proud of and why?” (44%)
  • “How do you handle high-stress situations at work?” (43%)
  • “What would success in this position mean to you?” (41%)
  • “What is a quality of a manager you like best?” (38%)

Simpler questions, better insights

Yoh noted that not all questions are well-received. Candidates generally prefer to avoid questions about their needs and hypothetical scenarios. Only 24% want to be asked about their non-negotiables in a job, and 27% about the resources they need.

Additionally, only 28% want to discuss what they would choose to do if money were no object.

“The key for hiring managers is to strike the right balance between relying on conventional, tried-and-true questions and pushing the boundaries of the traditional interview with out-of-the-box questions that test applicants’ creativity and problem-solving ability,” Emmett McGrath, president of Yoh, said.

McGrath also noted that simpler questions often provide clearer insights into a candidate’s suitability for a role, which can streamline the hiring process.

Key themes in candidates’ preferences

The survey results underscore three main themes in candidates’ preferences, according to Yoh:

Promote positivity: Candidates favor positively framed questions over negative ones. For instance, 45% prefer to discuss what they liked most about their last job, while only 27% want to talk about what they disliked. This trend is especially notable among college graduates, with 50% wanting to discuss positive aspects of their previous roles compared to 39% of those with a high school education or less.

Ask about adversity: Candidates, particularly those from minority backgrounds, are interested in sharing how they handle difficult situations.

Approach accomplishments thoughtfully: Nearly half of the respondents (44%) want to talk about personal or professional accomplishments. Older, more affluent, and better-educated respondents are more likely to prefer this question.

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