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.

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?

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Create strategic interview questions with assessments

We believe in utilising soft skills 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 company 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.

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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 candidate 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:

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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.

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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.

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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 behavior: 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.

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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.

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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.


Example strategic interview questions to ask candidates:

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

Here are some example strategic interview questions that you could ask your candidates from one of our Interview Reports:

”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?”

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 some of the other blog posts in the series, including; good interviewer skills, how to be a good interviewer and avoiding rude interviewer habits.



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