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Most Effective UK Job Interview Questions to Engage Your Candidates

Job interviews are one of the most crucial parts of the application process for both you and your candidates. Although their CV provides your first impression of their suitability for your vacancy, the initial interview is the first real insight a candidate gets for your organisation. With unemployment rates decreasing, we’re in an increasingly candidate-led market, which means that making a strong impression for all of the right reasons is more important than ever. 

Especially in the earlier months of the year, when the market is saturated with both vacancies and applicants, standing out from the crowd requires more than an effective job description. It is important to tread a careful line with UK employment law and avoid approaching protected characteristics, so you should instead focus your efforts on behaviours, skills, and experience. 

Young woman being interviews by two office professionals

Tip: focus on behaviours, skills, experience, and character

While there will be some information your potential recruits may volunteer, such as their age or marital status, your side of the conversation needs to stay focused on the job at hand. Direct your questions towards their behaviours and skillsets. Ask them about prior job experience and, if you want to mix things up, try something slightly different to test how your candidates react to an interview curveball. 

Below are some examples of standard questions candidates may expect in their interviews and a little further down, we’ve put together some questions to help you stand out to the right applicants.

Example interview questions

  • What were your key responsibilities in your last role?
  • What skills are transferable from your previous job? 
  • Why are you looking to leave your current position? (if applicable)
  • How did your experience at university assist you in your current/previous role? (if applicable and university qualifications are offered on candidate CV)
  • What are your interests outside of the workplace? 
  • How would you describe yourself in three words – both in and outside of the working environment? 

Your interviewees are not the only ones who should strive to be memorable. If you’re recruiting in a competitive marketplace (which is more and more likely as unemployment rates fall throughout the UK) you need to stand out to prospective employees too. Alongside the more standard interview questions we’ve listed about, why not try something a little different?

Engaging interview questions to help you stand out

Young professional being interviewed by man with laptop and woman with tablet


The following questions will not only help you stand out from the crowd as an employer, they’ll allow you to gain a real understanding of your candidate’s character, how they would fit into your business, and how well they respond to the unexpected in high-pressure situations.

  • Who do you admire the most and why?
  • If you could compare yourself to any animal which would it be and why?
  • If you won £10million on the Lottery, how would you spend it?
  • In the news story of your life, what is the headline?
  • Who, other than family, has had the biggest impact on your life and why?
  • What is your favourite word/smell/taste/country/city and why?

If you develop a strong rapport with your candidate in the earlier skills-based portion of the interview, try pushing the boundaries of what they’d usually expect with some of the questions with listed above to see how they respond. If not, they may not be the candidate for you. Even if their skills and experience could prove useful to your organisation, these questions are a good way to really test an applicant’s character.

Did you know?

98% of candidates who had a positive interview experience are likely to recommend others to apply for the same organisation

Source: Kelly Services

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