Interviewing candidates is important to see if they have the skills and experience needed for the role. It’s also an opportunity to see whether a potential apprentice or trainee will fit into your current team and the overall culture of your business.
Below are some sample questions to help you get the most from the interview process:
Tell me about yourself
Tip: This can help you get a sense of the kind of person the candidate is to see how they will fit within your team and the overall culture of your business, not just how well they can do the job. If the candidate is struggling with an answer, encourage them to talk about their education, work history, family and interests outside of work.
What are your strengths?
Tip: A suitable candidate will tell you about skills, experience and attributes that are relevant to the requirements of your role. If the candidate doesn’t have much work experience, encourage them to talk about their hobbies, interests and personal attributes, or experiences they’ve had at school or with a sporting club.
What are your areas for improvement?
Tip: A suitable candidate will recognise that they are entering an apprenticeship or traineeship to learn the job. A good answer to this question is that the candidate knows they have a lot to learn and is eager and keen to develop their skills on-the-job. The candidate could even mention specific skills they want to learn and how they think this role will help them to do so.
How do you react in stressful situations?
Tip: This question can reveal how self-aware a candidate is as well as how they may cope if put under pressure on the job. Encourage the candidate to give an example of a stressful situation they have been in and how they coped - this could be at work, school or even during sports.
Why do you want this job?
Tip: This is where you will see if the candidate is a good fit for the role, how well they understand what the position involves and how enthusiastic and passionate they are to commence a career in your industry. A good candidate will go even further than telling you why they want to work in this industry and will talk about why they want to work for your business specifically.
Why should I hire you?
Tip: This is the chance for candidates to sell themselves to you and show you what sets them apart from other candidates! The candidate should be confident, but not over-confident, and demonstrate how they are the best fit for the role, the team and your business.
Behavioural interview questions
As the name suggests, behavioural interview questions focus on how a candidate behaves – or reacts – in particular situations. These questions require them to provide specific examples of real-life situations where they have applied these skills.
- Describe a time when you have gone out of your way to help a customer. What did you do and what was the result?
- At times, you may encounter people that you don’t get along with or that you disagree with. Describe an example of when you have experienced this and how you managed that person.
- Describe how you decide when it’s more appropriate to communicate via the phone, by email or face-to-face?
- Tell me about two or three key strengths you have when dealing with people. Can you provide a recent example in which these strengths proved to be valuable?
- Describe a time when you have taken initiative and solved a problem on your own. What was the outcome?
- Describe a time when you have worked with minimal supervision or taken on additional responsibility for a task or project.
- Describe a time when you had to think on the spot and come to quick a decision even when you felt that you did not have sufficient information. What did you do and what was the outcome?
- Can you give an example of when you have had to work independently and use your initiative either through study or work?
- Give an example of a situation when you have had to keep up with changes to processes or information? How did you make sure you kept up to date?
- Explain how you have taken control of your professional development.
- Give an example of a goal you set and how you reached it.
- Describe an occasion when your organisational skills helped you succeed.
- Describe an occasion when you had to multi-task. What was the outcome?
- Give an example of a time when you had to complete tasks with competing deadlines. How did you prioritise them?
- Give an example of a situation when it was important for you to appear confident when talking to others. How did you achieve this?
- Describe an occasion where you needed to make an immediate good impression on someone. How did you achieve this?
- Describe an occasion when your workday ended before you were able to finish your task. What did you do in this situation?
- Describe an occasion when personal issues pulled you away from work and how you handled it.
- What is your approach towards your personal and professional goals? Can you give me some examples of these goals and how you prioritise them?
- Describe an occasion when you made a mistake. Did you accept responsibility? What was the outcome?
- Give an example of an idea you have come up with that has been successfully implemented.
- Describe a situation where you needed to solve a complex problem. What steps did you take to determine the most appropriate solution? What was the outcome?
- Can you give an example of when you have had to deal with a difficult situation either at work, in your personal life or at school, and how you managed it?
- Describe an occasion when you worked effectively in a team. What was your role? What impact did you have?
- Describe a team situation where things did not work out well. Briefly tell us what happened. What would you do differently next time?
- Describe an occasion when you had to speak up in order to be sure that others knew what you thought or felt.
- What has been the most challenging situation you have faced in a team environment?
Time management/working under pressure
- Describe a situation when you have felt that you were juggling too much. What did you do to get through it and what was the result?
- Describe an occasion when you have kept track of multiple priorities and still focused on quality. What strategies did you use?
- Describe an occasion when you had multiple tasks to complete in one day. What strategies did you use to organise or prioritise your daily tasks?
- Describe a time when you had to organise yourself to balance many tasks in one day and ensure you completed your work on time? What strategies did you use to organise or prioritise your daily tasks?