Top interview questions to ask

Below is our list of top interview questions to ask. To best understand this list, use the written section below alongside the video insights from our co-founders Geoff Balmer and David Landau.

Please find video transcript available at the bottom of this page.

When you conduct a job interview, what are the best questions to ask?

To get revealing, accurate answers from a potential employee you don’t need a long list of questions. Simply put, it's best to ask concise good questions that reflect on the skills that you want that candidate to have, and how they’ll contribute to your organisation. These prepared questions should cover work capabilities, behaviour, and personality traits. 

Top interview questions

We’ve listed our top ten recommended questions that you should be asking in your next interview as an integral part of the hiring process. These will help determine if your candidate has the job skills needed for the role and if they are a good fit for the long term.

  1. “What was the last negative piece of feedback you received?”: This can give you an idea of how the candidate reacts to negative feedback; something that is often difficult to gauge in people until it's too late.
  2. “What did your manager say about you in your last performance review?”: Asking this can help you see where the candidate is at in regards to their performance, how they’re developing, and what they might still be working on at present. Often, this can give you a better indication than just asking a more generic question around strengths and weaknesses.
  3. “What were the biggest challenges in your current job?”: Ultimately, by asking this question, you’ll get a good look at what challenges that candidate has faced, how they reacted, and how they’ve handled certain obstacles. 
  4. “When was the last time you didn’t hit an important goal?”: Generally, if a potential employee can reflect on their mistakes and learn from them it shows a good sense of character; especially if they can listen to feedback and change their approach the next time around so they can reach that important goal. 
  5. "What are the most valuable skills you feel are the most important for this role?": It's essential for the candidate to fully understand the intricacies of the position and the competencies required to be successful. This question will also shed light on how their skills and qualifications correlate with the role.
  6. "Why would you like to work for this company?": A good question to ascertain if the potential employee has conducted some research ahead of the job interview. Their answers should unveil a sense of an organisation's values and culture which in turn will offer an insight into their own ethos as well as if they are a good fit. 
  7. “What would your best friend want to change about you?”: A question based on the candidate’s character can give you an understanding of what that person is like, and can also tell you about the candidate's own self-awareness, and how they reflect on themselves. Plus, you’ll be able to see if their personality matches your company’s culture and how they might fit into your team. 
  8. "Can you tell me about a specific time when you over-achieved in your job?": When evaluating the answer look for examples of the candidate using the word ‘I’ over ‘we’ and also ask how they knew they’d over-achieved. 
  9. "Describe the most ideal work environment that would see you thrive?": The response will help decipher whether the applicant is a good fit for the company culture and if the atmosphere aligns with their working style. 
  10. "Where do you see yourself in five years from now?": Long term goals will yield an insight into a candidate's commitment to the role as well as motivation and desire to succeed. Above all, it can be assessed if their plans mirror the objectives of the organisation and culture. 


One of the biggest challenges in the hiring process is teasing out the details of a candidates competencies and personality attributes that will help establish their suitability for the role. Asking these recommended questions at the job interview can help determine how the potential employee interacts with people, and how they might behave in a work environment. The ability to learn and change is crucial in today’s market, so if your candidate display’s these traits in the interview they might just be the right person for your company.

Looking for more interview advice? You can take a look at our other resources for Hiring Managers here.

If you'd like more hiring advice and resources, take a look at our toolkit, or the other topics below:

Useful resources:

Hear advice from the Richard Lloyd Directors, Geoff Balmer and David Landau

How to Structure Your First Interview
Key Interview Questions for an Interviewer to Ask
Avoiding Common Hiring Mistakes
How to Get to the Truth in Interviews
Low Cost, High Impact Staff Retention Tools

Video transcript

This video will give you some powerful questions to ask at interview.

One really powerful question to ask at interview is what was the last piece of negative feedback you received on a piece of work you did? Now, this is a great question to ask as it really tests to see how truthful the candidate is. When they give you the answer, you really want to probe, and you really want to probe to see how did they react to that negative feedback. Where they someone who threw the toys out of the pram, where they someone who went away and really thought about what they did. By probing into the answer will give you a really good measure as to the candidate themselves.

Another powerful question to as is what did your manager say about you in your last performance review? You want to understand what are their development areas, and where are they up to with those development points.

When you're listening to the answer, it's really important to look at the body language, look at the facial expression, are they maintaining good eye contact or how they're really feeling. If they're flinching and looking away, I would suggest they might not be being as truthful as you want them to be.

Another question you can ask which will give you a powerful result is what was the most significant challenge in your current job at present? It's really good to see what does test them and how they reacted to that challenge. So again by asking a lot of probing questions and carefully listening to the answer, you'd get a really good understanding of the ability of the candidate.

Another powerful question is to ask what was the last time that you didn't hit an important goal? So you want to see when was the last time they didn't hit goal, how do they feel about, what would I do differently next. And you also really want to understand are they someone who learns from their mistakes, so have they been reflective and have they acted and changed what they did. So I think it brings you to learn and change is really important in today's market, so if they could demonstrate that, then they'd be a great fit for your organisation.

Another powerful interview question is what trait would your best friend want to change about you? This is a good question because it actually goes more into personal life, so maybe for example that you're always late but you know you can't ever admit that as a development point at work so it goes into the more human element but it gives you an understanding of what they are actually like as a person.

I would suggest to follow up with questions such as what would you do differently next time? What action did you take once you heard of the result? How did they feel about the result? Really understand what they did, how they thought. For more information, go to the Richard Lloyd website, and on the employer page, you'll find this information in the hiring manager toolkit.

To find out which questions you should not ask in an interview, please refer to Interview Questions That You Shouldn’t Ask Candidates.

For a better insight on how to interview candidates, please find out more on Interview Training.

For more training on specific questions to ask, have a look at How to Get to the Truth in Interviews.

Looking to recruit?

Call us now on (02) 8324 5640 or complete your details below and one of our expert Accounting Recruitment specialists will be in touch.

Form Loading Icon