Strategic interview questions to ask candidates

Interviewing candidates can be an incredibly time consuming part of the recruitment journey, if not the most time consuming part.

Strategic interview questions to ask candidates

Knowing specifically what strategic interview questions to ask candidates will go a long way to determining the quality of answers you get. Therefore asking the right questions is key to hiring the best candidates…

So how do you know if your interview questions are any good?

Create strategic interview questions to ask candidates with assessments

We believe in utilising psychometric assessments throughout the entirety of the recruitment process to gain a better understanding of your candidates.

Our Interviewer Report is designed to supplement you through the interview process by providing advice and questions that are specific to each candidate. This means you can use their assessment results to better explore their personality profile and get more from your interviews.

Interviewer Reports can be used by anyone who might need to conduct an interview with the candidate, such as recruiters, interviewers, assessors or hiring panels to determine the extent a candidate might be a good match with the role and/or organisational culture.

How the Interviewer Report works

The report summarises the key findings of your candidate’s personality by drawing on their strongest aspects to highlight potential strengths and concerns based on their tendencies and preferences.

Based on their preferences, the report will suggest a number of interview questions to ask the candidate determined by their score on a particular personality scale.

The report also draws on a candidate’s ability test scores, to show how aptitude in certain areas may affect their ability to deal with the demands of the role.

The Interviewer Report provides the reader with information around a candidate’s strengths/concerns, interview questions, and interview approach advice, and is also compatible with the candidate job matching facility on Clevry.


How to get the most from your Interviewer Report

  • The Interviewer Report should be used as a support tool to aid in interviewing candidates

  • There are no rights or wrongs, everyone has their own unique personality

  • The report indicates styles and preferences

  • Individuals may flex their approach depending on the circumstance

  • Personality is not fixed, it can change over time

  • A low score is not bad, it simply indicates preference towards the other end of the scale

  • Try to make it a two-way conversation

Preparing to interview your candidates

The Interviewer Report shows how candidates self reported their tendencies / preferences for each personality scale and provides you with questions you can use at interview..

When interviewing the candidate using the report, you can probe on specific areas that otherwise would have remained hidden.

There are a few steps to bare in mind, which are:

1) Preparing for interview

Form a hypotheses

Forming hypotheses means identifying the most interesting results from the report that you’d like to discuss, preferably related to the role. Look at different personality scales and create one or a couple of hypotheses by combining results and trying to describe what type of behaviour the candidate will show, which can then be tested during the interview with the candidate.

Decide on the questions

Based on the hypotheses you are drawing; decide which questions you would like to ask the candidate. These could be questions suggested in the interviewer report, or these may inspire similar questions that better relate to a specific job role. During the interview, a candidate’s answers may inspire new follow up questions, or open a new avenue of discussion, but it is always best to go in with at least some questions prepared to keep the conversation going.

 2) Setting the scene

  1. Make the candidate feel comfortable, break the ice

  2. Explain why the assessment is taken and that the assessment is a self-report

  3. Explain that answers will be handled confidentially

  4. Explain that responses are compared to a comparison group of people who have taken the assessment before

  5. There are no right or wrong answers

  6. The questionnaire is very reliable, but not infallible

Try to ensure that you both educate the candidate (about their assessment – so they don’t misinterpret their results) and put them at ease.

Some candidates may find an interview particularly scary so being reassured that these assessments are as much for their benefit (i.e. being placed in an organisation that has a good person-job fit, will allow a candidate to flourish) as the recruiter/organisation’s will be reassuring and help them to relax.

3) Discussing results with candidates

Before you delve into asking questions, you may wish to quickly summarise the candidate’s personality profile with them.

When giving feedback to the candidate, make sure that you use the right language to explain the report and use wording such as:

  • It is a self-report: ‘Your responses’ or ‘You see yourself’ or ‘Your report shows’

  • Status of the results: ‘Indicates’, ‘suggests’ or ‘may’

  • Norm comparison: ‘Compared to others’

  • Strength of tendency: ‘Slight’, ‘very’, ‘fairly’ or ‘strong’

  • Language of scale behaviour: avoid using scale labels to describe results

  • Example of language to use when describing results to candidates:

  • ‘Your responses suggest that, compared to other people, you see yourself as having a strong tendency to make decisions quickly’

You may prefer to describe results as you explore them. This is ok as long as you make sure to use the appropriate language.

4) Explore

This is your opportunity to gather further information about the candidate and test any hypotheses you have made during preparation.

Remember that while a personality questionnaire uses a self-report method, it can’t tell you everything. This is your opportunity to fill in any gaps, and discuss any strengths or concerns.

By using the questions given in the Interviewer Report, you can literally read out the statements from the Interviewer report (found in the purple box). These already use the recommended style of phrasing and are used as a follow up to your description of the hypotheses.

You can of course also use your own questions at this point. You could either make slight tweaks to the suggested questions or use them as a basis to ask other questions that are completely your own.


Remember! Personality profiles do not indicate ability!


They show a candidate may prefer to work in a certain way, not necessarily that they are good or bad at working in that way. One function of having an interview is to try and work out whether the candidate can provide evidence demonstrating whether they have experience and capability in a particular area.

5) Conclude the interview

Summarise the conversation with your candidate and find out if there are any questions you may still want to ask.

If a candidate disagrees with some of the results of the psychometric assessment, that is fine, and there should be room to discuss this openly. This will provide you with further insights into their personality profile and preferences at work.

Using strategic interview questions from our Interviewer Report:

Strategic interview questions that are tailored to each candidate are generated after they complete one of our personality questionnaires.

Here are some example questions that you could ask your candidates from our Interviewer Report:

”Your responses to the personality questionnaire suggest that you’re gentle when working with others, preferring to adopt a supporting role rather than asserting yourself in a dominant manner:”

”Can you describe a time when you chose to be gentle rather than assertive?”

”What reactions did you get from others on this occasion?”


”Your responses to the personality questionnaire indicate that you like to spend time on your own:”

”How has this affected the way you work with others?”

”How have you felt about tasks that involve working on your own?”


”Your responses to the personality questionnaire suggest that you have a strong tendency to look on the bright side and expect things to turn out for the best:”

”How has this optimism affected your behaviour at work?”

”How has this optimism affected you on occasions when things haven’t gone to plan?”

”Our company values place strong emphasis on being agile, looking to always do better and open creativity. We need every member of staff to work as one cohesive team:”

”How do you feel about trying to outperform other people?”

”Give me a specific example of a time when you worked hard to achieve something great in the past?”


”At X Company we work in an environment that is constantly changing:”

”Can you provide me an example of when you have dealt with a lot of change in your life?”

”Why do you think there’s so much change here at X Company?”


”You describe yourself as having a strong preference for taking quick decisions rather than leaving issues open for further consideration:”

”Tell me of a time when you took your time making a decision?”

”Tell me about a time when you were rushed into making a decision?”

30 example strategic interview questions to ask candidates (and answers)

”Can you briefly introduce yourself and your background?”

Example answer:

“Sure, my name is Alex, and I have a bachelor’s degree in Marketing. I have been working in the advertising industry for the past three years, where I managed digital marketing campaigns for various clients.”

What interests you about this position and our company?

Example answer:

“I’m excited about this position because it aligns perfectly with my skills and passion for marketing. I admire your company’s commitment to innovation and how it consistently delivers exceptional products to customers.”

How do you stay updated on industry trends and developments?”

Example answer:

“I regularly attend marketing conferences and subscribe to industry newsletters. I also follow influential marketing blogs and participate in online forums to engage in discussions about the latest trends.”

”Tell me about a successful project you worked on. What was your role, and what were the outcomes?”

Example answer:

“In my previous role, I led a social media campaign for a new product launch. I devised the strategy, managed the content creation, and monitored performance metrics. The campaign resulted in a 25% increase in brand awareness and a 15% boost in sales.”

”How do you handle tight deadlines and multiple priorities?”

Example answer:

“I prioritise tasks based on their urgency and impact on the overall goals. I communicate openly with team members to ensure everyone is aware of the deadlines, and I’m not afraid to seek assistance when needed.”

”Describe a challenging situation at work and how you handled it.”

Example answer:

“During a project, I faced unexpected scope changes that jeopardised the timeline. I immediately initiated a team meeting to reassess priorities, allocated additional resources, and set realistic expectations with the client, ultimately delivering the project on time.”

”How do you handle constructive criticism?”

Example answer:

“I appreciate constructive feedback as it helps me grow professionally. I actively listen to feedback, reflect on it, and use it to improve my skills and performance.”

”Can you provide an example of when you had to persuade a team to adopt your idea?”

Example answer:

“In a brainstorming session, I proposed a new content strategy. I prepared a detailed presentation outlining its potential benefits, and through open discussions, I convinced the team to give it a try. The results exceeded expectations, and the team appreciated the collaborative approach.”

”How do you manage your time when working on long-term projects?”

Example answer:

“I break down the project into smaller milestones and set realistic deadlines for each. Regularly reviewing progress and adjusting the plan as needed ensures I stay on track and meet important milestones.”

”Describe a time when you had to resolve a conflict within a team.”

Example answer:

“During a team project, two members had conflicting ideas. I arranged a private meeting to understand both perspectives and facilitated a compromise that integrated the best elements from each approach. The team worked cohesively afterward, and the project was successful.”

”How do you handle unexpected changes in project requirements?”

Example answer:

“I recognise that change is inevitable, so I always stay adaptable. I communicate with stakeholders, assess the impact of changes, and work with the team to adjust the plan accordingly.”

”Can you demonstrate your ability to teach something in five minutes?”

Example answer:

“”Sure! Let me explain the basic principles of search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is a method used to optimise websites for better visibility on search engine results pages…””

”How do you measure the success of a marketing campaign?”

Example answer:

“I establish clear and measurable goals at the campaign’s outset, such as increased brand engagement or lead generation. Throughout the campaign, I monitor key performance indicators and use data analytics to evaluate its effectiveness against the set goals.”

”Can you share your experience with budget management for marketing projects?”

Example answer:

“In my previous role, I was responsible for managing marketing budgets. I meticulously tracked expenses, prioritised cost-effective strategies, and negotiated with vendors to optimise spending without compromising on quality.”

”Describe a time when you had to deal with negative feedback from customers about a product or service.”

Example answer:

“I once received a series of negative reviews about a product. I promptly investigated the issues, acknowledged the customers’ concerns, and implemented improvements. As a result, we saw a significant reduction in negative feedback and an increase in customer satisfaction.”

”How do you stay motivated during challenging projects?”

Example answer:

“I focus on the end goal and the impact the project will have on the company and customers. I also seek support and encouragement from team members, which helps maintain motivation even during tough times.”

”How do you incorporate data and analytics into your marketing strategies?”

Example answer:

“Data-driven decision-making is crucial in marketing. I use analytics tools to gather insights, identify patterns, and understand customer behavior, which informs the strategy and improves campaign performance.”

”Tell me about a time when you had to take a calculated risk in a marketing campaign.”

Example answer:

“We decided to experiment with a new advertising platform for a campaign. I analysed the potential risks and benefits, conducted A/B testing, and closely monitored results. The risk paid off, and we reached a new audience segment with increased conversions.”

”How do you approach building strong relationships with external partners and stakeholders?”

Example answer:

“I believe in open communication and mutual respect. I ensure that I understand their goals and expectations and work collaboratively to achieve common objectives, fostering strong and long-lasting partnerships.”

”How do you keep your creativity fresh and innovative in your work life?”

Example answer:

“I regularly seek inspiration from various sources, such as art, technology, and different industries. I also encourage brainstorming sessions with the team to generate new ideas and explore unconventional approaches.”

”Describe your experience with managing a diverse team.”

Example answer:

“In my previous role, I led a diverse team with different skill sets and backgrounds. I promoted an inclusive culture that valued everyone’s perspectives and ensured that each team member had opportunities for growth and development.”

”How do you handle situations where your colleagues or team faces burnout or demotivation?

Example answer:

“I regularly check in with team members to monitor their workload and stress levels. When signs of burnout appear, I encourage time off, team-building activities, or opportunities for skill development to reenergise the team.”

”What achievements are you most proud of in your career?”

Example answer:

“One of my most outstanding achievements was when I led a team in implementing a new project management system that resulted in a 30% increase in project completion efficiency…”

”What role do you typically take on when working in a team on a project?”

Example answer:

“I often take on a leadership role, ensuring everyone has clear tasks and deadlines. I also like to foster a collaborative environment, encouraging open communication and idea sharing among team members…”

”How do you approach learning new skills or acquiring knowledge?”

Example answer:

“I’m a proactive learner, and I constantly seek out online courses, workshops, and industry webinars to stay up-to-date on the latest marketing trends and techniques…”

”Who is your biggest source of inspiration, and why?”

Example answer:

“My biggest inspiration is Elon Musk. I admire his relentless pursuit of innovation, his ability to lead multiple successful companies, and his commitment to making a positive impact on the world through technology…”

”How do you regain focus and meet deadlines when you fall behind schedule?”

Example answer:

“When I’m behind schedule, I prioritise tasks, eliminate distractions, and create a detailed action plan to catch up. If necessary, I communicate with stakeholders to manage expectations and ensure a realistic timeline…”

”What are your long-term career goals and how do they align with this position?”

Example answer:

“My long-term goal is to become a marketing manager, and I believe this position will provide me with valuable experience in leading campaigns and working with cross-functional teams, which are essential skills for reaching my career objective…”

”How do you cope with pressure in a demanding role?”

Example answer:

“When faced with pressure, I focus on breaking tasks into smaller manageable steps. I also maintain open communication with my team, seeking support when needed, and I always remind myself of the end goal and the positive impact of my work…”

”How do you handle feedback from a manager and use it to improve your performance?”

Example answer:

“I welcome feedback from my manager, as I see it as an opportunity to grow. I actively listen to the feedback, take notes on areas of improvement, and then create an action plan to implement the suggested changes in my work…”

If you’re interested in finding out more about our Interviewer Report please contact us via email or phone and one of the team will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

If you want to read more about mastering interviewing, check out our How to Interview Someone guide or our rude interviewer habits blog post.


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