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What Can These 8 Questions Tell You Most About a Candidate?



Interviews: A place where everyone is on their best behaviour, and it can be challenging to know if a candidate is genuine, or just well-rehearsed.  But in a global marketplace where competition is high to attract and retain talented professionals, mistakes can be costly. 

One in three hires turns out to be a mistake, and the cost of a poor hire at the mid-manager level with a salary of £42,000 can be more than £132,000. This is due to the accumulation of costs relating to training, lost productivity and more. 

The interview is your opportunity to discover if a candidate who looked good on paper is not only thoroughly qualified, but would be someone your existing team will work well with, and who has the motivation to help drive your businesses forward. 

So, how can you get it right the first time?  

As a specialist recruiter, I often find clients ask me for advice on the best questions to ask interviewees that help uncover more about an individuals personality and motivations. 

So, in this article, I would like to propose some questions to incorporate into the interview process that will help you decide if a candidate would be a good fit for your company. 

They uncover team and culture fit and how well they could be expected to hit the ground running, related to their values and drivers.  

The questions are designed to help you assess both soft skills and personality traits – two of the most vital factors to consider when hiring a new member of your team. 

1. Why Do You Want to Work Here? 

This question will give you an idea of how thoroughly a candidate has researched your company before the interview. They should be able to make references to specific facts and figures that indicate not only that they have done their homework on your business, but that they can align your company goals and ethos to their aspirations. 

2. Tell Me Something About Yourself That Isn’t On Your CV? 

This question is deliberately vague to encourage the individual to share something about themselves. It could be either job-related or personal. They could talk about voluntary work they do, how they took a year out to travel or work for a charity, or another extraordinary experience. This type of question gives you an insight into the kind of personality they have – such as adventurous, driven, reflective or generous. 

3. Who Has Had the Most Significant Influence on Your Career? 

An individual’s heroes; be they family members, long-standing friends or celebrities, are a good indication of personality too. The question can throw light on whether an individual has chosen a spontaneous random career path, or made concrete choices along the way.   

Additionally, if their hero is a well-known business leader, that will provide insight into the type of business working style they prefer, and indicate if they will be a good fit for you. 

4. What Made You Apply for This Role? 

This question allows the candidate to show they have read the job description in detail and offers the chance to show how well they can fulfil the requirements and share why they believe they would be a good cultural fit.  

5. What Are Your Greatest Strengths/Weaknesses? 

A classic question for interviewers that allows the applicant to discuss how their best qualities align with your business needs, and to demonstrate how their strengths will help you achieve your business goals. It also gives a good indication of an individual’s sense of self-awareness and humility – ideal attributes for management. 

The weaknesses disclosed should also reflect self-awareness and provide an opportunity for the candidate to show how they are working on improving those development areas. Additionally, their answer offers a chance for you to consider if their weaknesses could hamper their ability to do the role for which they are interviewing. 

6. Tell Me About a Difficult Situation in Your Working Career, and How You Overcame It? 

This question considers how an individual performs under stress. It highlights their problem-solving skills and how they manage pressure in a job role.   

Additionally, the answer will shed light on whether they apportion blame or are willing to accept responsibility when things go wrong – and whether they have a growth mindset that sees failure as a real opportunity to grow and learn, rather than a negative experience.  

Again, crucial traits to be taken into consideration, especially if you are hiring at leadership level. 

7. Why Are You Looking For a New Role? 

How does the candidate talk about their previous workplace? Is it negative, or do they focus on the constructive? Do they mention positive factors such as being coached to new skills and the networking opportunities they were given, or are they critical of former colleagues and managers?  

Showing respect for former employers and appreciation for the opportunities given demonstrates professionalism; an essential in any role.  

8. What Motivates You? 

What is the motivation for your candidate?  

You may be surprised by their answer. It’s rarely about remuneration, although that does play a part of course. Motivations are a great indicator of personality type and can indicate leadership skills and demonstrate a good culture fit for your business.   

Is the applicant motivated to achieve the same goals as your business? Whether it’s their career pathway, the impact they wish to have, recognition of a job well done, autonomy in their work or having a purpose – the answer to this question is profoundly insightful. It will help you establish who they are.  

Remember too, that it’s essential to recognise that while all these traits and drivers may be positive – they may not fit into your current vacancy.  

Having an individual who is driven by working autonomously to produce a report that will improve your company’s bottom line isn’t necessarily the right fit for your Head of Transport Planning role. This individual would have a different skill-set and needs to be confident in building teams and establishing strong relationships across many departments.   

And Finally… 

Although it’s critical to have the right qualifications and skills for many roles, personality fit is crucial for most companies too.  

A study conducted by global learning institute Hyper Island on the future of hiring found that for the top qualities CEOS and MDs look for in a new hire, an overwhelming majority of 79% stated that ‘personality’ was the most important.  


 ‘Skill-set’ received just 39%, which was beaten by ‘cultural alignment’ which received 53%.  

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Furthermore, Richard Branson, billionaire Virgin Group founder, echoed this in a recent LinkedIn article, saying, “The first thing to look for when searching for a great employee is somebody with a personality that fits with your company culture – most skills can be learned, but it is difficult to train people on their personality.” 

The bottom line is, businesses thrive on relationships. Building a culture of similar values and ethos, where colleagues work together to push the company forward and achieve its ultimate goals, is crucial to success.  

So, when you’re next hiring, its worth considering weaving some of these questions into your interview to establish just how good a fit the candidate is for your business model. 

Next Steps 

If you are are looking to scale your team, or you’re an executive who is thinking about a change of role, we can help. With many years’ experience placing executive level candidates in their ideal job role, we can help create a smooth transition. 

So, if you would like to work with an experienced recruiting partner, call us on 01905 381320 or get in contact here.  



About Martin Veasey Talent Solutions  

The Secret to your Success is Hiring Exceptional Talent.  Our Talent is helping you find it. 

  • A 35-year track record successfully recruiting for blue chip and SME businesses both in the UK and Internationally. 

  • Essentially, we match exceptional talent with excellent jobs.  We have a reputation for proactively finding and placing hard to reach talent into our clients’ businesses.  Our testimonials and completed assignment portfolio confirm this. 

  • Martin Veasey Talent Solutions have a unique expertise in hiring managerial, professional, technical, functional specialists and senior executive roles, including complete teams both in the UK and internationally. 

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  • We place a strong emphasis on developing partnerships that enable us to get to know your business objectives, your challenges and your specific requirements.   

  • We then create a tailored campaign that delivers the best talent to add value and become an integral part of your business growth and success. 

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Intrigued? Let’s talk

To find out how our tried, tested and trusted insight and innovation can deliver you the brightest sales and marketingtalent call
01905 381320 or email

I am highly recommending any candidates to work with Martin Veasey Talent Solutions, as they understand the candidate career objectives and match the skills required with the desired employer.