June 25th, 2018

Curveballs or Basics: What hiring managers ask in interviews

By Medicine Hat News on January 11, 2017.



A job interview can be nerve-racking, but add curveball questions to the mix, and you have a formula for a challenging discussion. The good news for Canadian jobs seekers is that many employers prefer to stick with standard inquiries, according to a survey by staffing firm Accountemps. Questions about the applicants’ interest in the position and company were most frequently cited as senior managers’ favourites (45 per cent), followed by asking about candidates’ previous experience (20 per cent).

However, unique questions are never off the table. Some senior managers cited these questions as their go-tos:

* “Use an ad slogan to describe yourself.”

* “What kind of animal would you be?”

* “If you could have all of the ice cream in the world, how many different flavours would you take to make a sundae and how many toppings would you pick?”

* “Tell me something different about yourself that’s not written on your resume.”

* “What kind of magazines do you read?”

* “What did you want to be when you grew up?”

Canadian senior managers were asked “When interviewing job candidates, what is your favourite question to ask?” Their responses fell into the categories below*:

Pertaining to the position or company – 45%

Previous or current experience – 20%

Personal attributes and characteristics – 16%

Personal goals and interests – 6%

Theoretical questions – 6%

Miscellaneous/Other – 6%

* Responses do not equal 100 due to rounding.

“While specific interview questions will vary depending on the company or position, there are standard discussion points that candidates should prepare for to help lay the groundwork for a successful interview,” said Dianne Hunnam-Jones, Canadian president of Accountemps. “Thorough research into the company, including potential challenges, threats and opportunities, will help you to articulate how your skills can enhance business growth while also assisting you in evaluating how the role fits into your career goals.”

Senior managers reported the following interview questions among their favourites, and Accountemps offers the reasons they are commonly asked:

Company or Position


* “Why do you want to work here?”

* “What do you know about this company?”

* “Why are you interested in this position?”

What the hiring manager is trying to learn

* If a candidates did their homework

* Their level of enthusiasm

* Whether they would be a good match for the corporate culture



* “What did you like or dislike about your last job?”

* “Tell me about your work experience.”

* “Why did you leave your last job?”

What the hiring manager is trying to learn

* The applicant’s fit for the position

* Patterns in work history

* Transferrable skills if candidates are changing roles

Personal attributes or characteristics


* “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”

* “How do you interact with a team?”

* “How do you handle stress at work?”

* “What are your hobbies outside of work?”

What the hiring manager is trying to learn

* If candidates have the right mix of technical and soft skills, such as communication and leadership

* Applicants’ work style

* How individuals manage various situations

The survey was created by Accountemps and conducted by an independent research firm. It includes responses from more than 300 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees in Canada.

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