Hiring managers: What you’ll learn from these seven open-ended interview questions

A group of four human resources staff working and talking in an office connected with tech devices like tablets and laptops.


When hiring permanent staff, good open-ended interview questions can provide a perfect opportunity to break the ice with nervous candidates. They can help to paint a picture of prospective employees in a broader sense by allowing them the opportunity to tell their story in an unstructured way. Hopefully, these should prompt unrehearsed responses, resulting in more genuine and uninfluenced dialogue.

By asking the right open questions, candidates may well unknowingly reveal personal attitudes and opinions. In doing so, you’ll be able to read between the lines and learn much more about your prospective new hire. Here are some of our recommended open-ended interview questions that will see you getting the most out of your interviewee.

1. What do you like most about [name of profession]? What do you like least, and what do you find the most challenging?

By asking about likes and dislikes, you’ll be able to get a good overview of a candidate’s perception of their role. Reassure candidates that there’s no right or wrong answer here!

2. Tell me about a typical day in your current position.

A CV can only say so much. By asking interviewees to describe a typical day, alongside the question above, you’ll be able to quickly understand the bigger picture of their role and their key motivators for leaving.

3. What was your primary contribution or achievement in your last or current position?

This is a good alternative question to the traditional ‘what are your strengths’ as it allows them to give you a real-life example (as well as a barometer) of what they consider to be strong performance.

4. What was the best job you ever had? What was the worst? Why?

This question will shed light on what the candidate is really looking for moving forward. In describing the reasons for their likes and dislikes, you’ll gain a more honest assessment of what they’re really looking for moving forward.

5. What are your short- and long-term career goals?

By asking candidates to define both long- and short-term goals, you’ll be able to evaluate how your business might be able to accommodate their progression – if at all. If the candidate is particularly ambitious with notions of moving up the career ladder quite quickly, it’s possible they might not be the right fit for a permanent appointment if you can’t offer that.

6. What’s the best book you’ve read in the last year?

Tell me what you liked about it. Interviews are as much about discovering candidates’ personalities as they are about their skillsets. Their favourite book will offer a glimpse into their potential cultural alignment.

7. What is your interpretation of “success”?

You can set so many KPIs, goals, success measures as an employer, but it’s the candidate’s own yard stick that you’ll want to truly have a measure of. With insight into their personal drivers, you’ll be able to better manage them as employees and push them to exceed expectations.

We believe interviews should be organic conversations. While these questions serve as a guide, don’t be afraid to let the conversation run a natural course with a little prompting and direction from you at points. Rigid interview formats will not serve you or the candidate best in being able to show off your best selves.

Get in touch with us today to get the recruitment process started. If you’re looking for more guidance on the interviewing process, read our comprehensive interview guide for employers.

Author David Morel Tiger Recruitment Team

What your employees are looking for in 2020

In September 2019, Tiger Recruitment conducted a survey of 149 UAE employees to ask them about their salaries, favourite benefits, and overall satisfaction at work. While the results found that 54% of respondents are currently ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’, a significant 45% are planning to leave their role within a year. If you want to

Read more

Newsletter

Sign up for the latest workplace insights.

Are you: