Top 10 Strategic Interview Questions to Ask Candidates in 2024

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Posted by: David Garcia July 11, 2023

The job market constantly evolves, and the competition for top talent is more fierce than ever. Employers need to stay ahead of the curve when hiring new employees. The key to finding the right candidate lies in asking strategic questions that can uncover their skills, experience, and motivation.

Here are our picks for the top 10 strategic interview questions you should ask candidates in 2024 to find the perfect fit for your team.

Effective Interview Tips: Prepare for Strategic Questioning

As you prepare to interview potential job candidates, it’s critical to have a plan and be aware of the most effective types of questions to ask. Ask strategic interview questions to get the best out of each candidate and help determine if they’re the right fit for your organization and the role you’re filling.

Strategic interview questions require more than a one-word answer. Instead, they allow the candidate to show off their skills, give insight into their personality, demonstrate how they think, and provide a peek into how they’d work in the role in question.

Before any candidate interview, prepare to ask strategic questions and make the best decision possible for your company. Come up with a list of several strategic questions – basic, behavioral, self-awareness, and role-specific – and be prepared to ask each candidate the same questions.

Types of Strategic Interview Questions

As you develop your strategic interview questions, you want to build them around four distinct categories: basic, behavioral, self-awareness, and role-specific questions.

Basic strategic interview questions ask the candidate to give basic information, such as how long they’ve been in a specific role, their career goals, or how they found out about the job they’re applying for.

Behavioral strategic interview questions aim to learn more about how the candidate has acted in past situations – how they handled conflict, led a team, overcame a challenge, or achieved a specific result. Consider what behaviors are most important for the job you’re hiring for and craft questions that will give insight into whether they’d be the right person for the role.

Self-awareness strategic interview questions help evaluate a candidate’s understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses, skills, experience, and expertise. Self-awareness is a crucial trait for any role. Be sure to include questions that help reveal how the candidate views themselves.

Finally, role-specific strategic interview questions are those catered to the job being filled – what have they done in similar roles, what led them to this career path, what qualities are essential for the job at hand, etc.

Basic Interview Questions

Get your interview started with these basic interview questions to get to know each candidate better, gauge their interest in the role, and see whether their vision for the future aligns with your company’s vision.

1. Tell me about yourself.

This question is a good opener that allows the candidate to give you a short pitch on themselves – who they are, what experience they have, which skills are top of mind, etc. With little framework to work within, it’s the most open question on our list, and the direction they take will tell you a lot about them. Pay attention to what they lead with, how they describe themselves, and what level of confidence they speak with.

2. Why do you want this job? Why do you want to work for this company?

These two questions will indicate how much research the candidate has done and how interested they are in joining your team. Their answers should reflect more than just a job search or a need for money – they should be passionate about the role itself and your company and be able to explain why this opportunity is a perfect fit for them. A vague answer may indicate a lack of research or interest, while someone with specific points demonstrates that they’ve been paying attention to what your company does and what the role offers.

3. What are your long-term career goals?

This question is important to ask as it will let you know what the candidate would like to do in the future and if their goals are compatible with your company’s mission. If they don’t have any long-term goals, or their plans don’t fit with your organization’s vision, likely, this isn’t the right job for them. It also shows if there’s potential for them to grow with your company into other roles.

Behavioral Interview Questions

Behavioral interview questions are vital to evaluating a candidate’s previous experience and how they work in challenging situations or take the initiative when needed. Gauge their ability to think on their feet, solve problems, and collaborate with others by asking this type of strategic question.

1. Tell me about a time when something went wrong at work that was your fault. How did you handle it?

This question helps assess candidates’ problem-solving skills and how they respond to criticism. Hiring people who recognize, own, and learn from their mistakes is essential. Listen for humility, self-reflection, and an understanding of why things went wrong; you also want to gather how they work under pressure and think on their feet to find solutions.

2. Tell me about a project that you led from start to finish.

If you’re looking to evaluate leadership potential, this is a great way to determine how a candidate would perform in such a position. It also tells you a lot about their project management skills. With this answer, you’ll hopefully understand how they plan and their ability to organize tasks, delegate, communicate, and ultimately deliver positive outcomes.

3. Tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult coworker.

This question helps measure how well a candidate works with others, especially in challenging situations. Listen for signs of conflict resolution skills and the ability to collaborate even with difficult people. You’re looking for someone who can remain professional and take initiative when needed.

Self-Awareness Interview Questions

Self-awareness is essential for any role and can indicate how well a candidate will fit into your company culture. Use these self-awareness interview questions to better understand the candidate’s level of emotional intelligence and ability to assess themselves and their work objectively.

1. How do you deal with pressure or high-stress situations at work?

If you want to better understand how the candidate responds to difficult situations, ask this question to find out if they can stay focused and maintain a positive attitude even when under pressure. It also helps you gauge their likelihood of making mistakes in such conditions and whether their response is emotionally intelligent.

2. What’s your biggest weakness, and how have you improved upon it?

As the interviewer, you want to know that the candidate is aware of their weaknesses and has taken steps to improve them. It’s essential to hire someone who’s self-aware and able to objectively recognize their shortcomings and be open to learning and growing more.

Role-Specific Interview Questions

These role-specific interview questions will help you evaluate the candidate’s understanding of the role they’re applying for and their interest in the field. Depending on the position in question, these may be more technical questions regarding specific programs or skills or more general ones, such as the ones listed below.

1. What qualities do you think are important for someone to be successful in this role?

This question helps you gauge the candidate’s knowledge of the job and what they believe it takes to succeed in the role. Their answer will give insight into how well their skills and insights match up with the job requirements. If the skills they believe are essential for the role are far from the reality, it may not be a good match.

2. What led you to pursue this career path?

Ask this question to allow your candidates to explain their motivations for choosing this profession and give you a clearer picture of their level of interest in the role and the field. It’s an important question to ask to make sure they’re genuinely invested in their work rather than just taking any job that comes their way.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is One Strategic Interview Question to Ask Candidates?

A strategic interview question would be, “Tell me about a time when something went wrong at work that was your fault. How did you handle it?” This question requires self-awareness and gives insight into shortcomings while illustrating problem-solving skills, coolness under pressure, and creativity.

Final Thoughts

Interviewing is an essential part of the hiring process and requires a lot of thought. Don’t just ask any question that comes to mind. Ask questions with a purpose that leads to answers filled with valuable insights for your hiring process.

Use these strategic, self-awareness, role-specific, and behavioral interview questions to better understand who the candidate is and how they’ll fit into your organization, or use them as inspiration to develop your own questions that’ll illuminate their skills, personality, and experience.

Researching the individual and their background is also crucial for making informed decisions about who to hire. Performing background checks on candidates is essential to the interview process, and ScoutLogic can help. Reach out to learn more and hire the right candidate every time.

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