Four must ask interview questions in 2021

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Jobseekers have entered 2021 with significant optimism, ambition and flexibility.

They’re open to changing sectors to find roles where they can apply their transferable skills and are more flexible when it comes to their salary expectations and their place of work.

This change in expectations and increased flexibility from jobseekers must be reflected in the way that you interview, in order to find and secure the best talent for your business.

The job market has irreversibly changed over the last 12 months. Not only is it important to avoid the questions you shouldn’t ask in an interview, it’s also necessary to bring in new ones to get the best sense of if that candidate is the right fit.


Here are four clever interview questions you should be asking candidates in 2021


How would you manage your work if you weren’t able to be in the office?

Translation: The world can be unpredictable. Can you handle the unexpected?

Although the pandemic has forced many businesses to adopt remote working out of necessity, how we’ll be working in a post-pandemic world is still uncertain. This presents the necessity to screen how capable candidates are when it comes to independent working, as well as how they can remotely collaborate and  build relationships with peers.

Asking how candidates approach remote working opens up many opportunities for them to reveal key skills in different areas: work-life balance, time management, communication, the list goes on.

Aspects of remote work you might want to discuss with interviewees include: 

  • How they measure success for themselves
  • How they would manage business expectations working remotely
  • How they can demonstrate good communication skills with stakeholders
  • Evidence of remote collaboration in previous roles
  • Time management and/or project management approaches


When was the last time you changed your mind about something important?

Translation: Are you flexible enough (and humble enough) to change your views when you receive new information?

Just like the job market, the world of work is constantly changing. This means that a candidate who can demonstrate agility in their attitude and mindset as requirements and expectations of them evolve is an incredibly valuable asset for your business.

Asking a candidate to give specific examples of instances where they have reconsidered their opinion or approach to a work situation can offer insight into how open they are to learning. In turn, this will give you an idea of how they fare when it comes to soft skills such as collaboration and teamwork.


When was the last time you missed a deadline?

Although a tough question on the surface, the best candidates will use this as a chance to explain how they prioritised multiple objectives when not all of them could be completed on time or to budget. 

Even if deadlines get missed due to factors outside of an employee’s control, it’s important to evaluate how candidates take responsibility for how they dealt with obstacles. Candidates may even draw on their key learnings from projects that went wrong in the past, demonstrating their maturity and consciousness towards development.


If you had to calculate the cost of not hiring you, what would that cost be and why? 

Translation: Do you know your own worth? And are you able to put it across clearly, and concisely? 

This is a tough question for candidates and probably one to save for the end. It will require them to really weigh up the value they believe they can bring to the company compared to anyone else, based on what they’ve learnt about your business during the interview. It’s similar to more commonly used questions like ‘Why are you a good fit for the company?’ and ‘Why should we hire you?’, but with the twist of testing if candidates have really done their homework on your company.

The ideal candidates may even offer their own suggestions on how their skills, experience, accomplishments and ideas can contribute towards your specific business goals. This in turn gives you the opportunity to evaluate their strengths, qualities and vision against the role.


More interview questions

Not sure if these interview questions are right for you? Whether you need competency questions to test applicants on their characteristics, or curveball questions to keep candidates on their toes, we’ve got more. A lot more, in fact.

For some more great questions you could ask, James Reed’s new book: Why You? 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear Again offers candidates advice on addressing some of the newer interviewing techniques.



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