What was your strangest interview experience

Question after question. Job interview with structure

Once the candidates' application documents have been evaluated, the recruiting process enters the crucial phase: the interviews are pending, often in the form of video telephony. But how do you find out whether the potential newcomer fits in with the company's culture and values? Which questions help to find out whether the candidate is actually resilient or capable of working in a team, as stated in the cover letter? This article provides the answers.

Does the applicant suit the company? This collection of questions will help you answer this question.

You can read more about aptitude testing in the article “To err is human, but it costs. With aptitude diagnostics for the right personnel decision ”.

Which question is suitable as an introductory question?

As banal as it sounds, it is often overlooked: In order to find out whether you “can” with each other, it is important to know your own values: What defines the company, where should the journey take us in the coming years? Only those who know what they are looking for can identify the “right one”.

Not only are the questions important, but also the environment in which they are asked. For example, it makes a big difference whether a candidate for an interview has to answer questions from seven people in a lavish conference room, or whether a prospect can talk to the HR officer alone in a relaxed atmosphere. Who takes part in the meetings, who is necessary? At Personio, for example, there are up to five interviews with different conversation partners.

What does a structured interview guide look like?

The questionnaire must of course be discussed internally beforehand and coordinated with the job profile. There are standard questions that basically fit into any interview. More important are those that lure the candidate out of the reserve and have been specially developed for the requirement profile.

Download a template for requirement profiles here.

Each question should have a purpose and a purpose and provide information about the candidate's soft skills. It is precisely these "soft" characteristics such as initiative or resilience that say something about the applicant's compatibility with the company.

Standard questions - a good place to start

First of all, certain standard questions can be worthwhile as a warm-up exercise, they can break the ice and start communication.

For example, ask your counterpart what they know about your company and why they would like to work for you. You will quickly see from the answer whether the candidate is genuinely interested at all.

The question of strengths and weaknesses is popular. “Can you tell us something about your weaknesses?” Reveals more than “What are ...?”. Does the candidate describe his weaknesses in a differentiated and self-reflective manner or do his points seem to have been learned by heart?

When asking about failure, see if he accepts responsibility for the failure mentioned and what he has learned from it. Or will he put the blame for his failure on colleagues or supervisors?

The question of role models can also be illuminating, as can the question of the reason for the profession you have learned: "Why did you decide to do this?"

A panning into private loosens the mood and opens up the candidate even more. “What are your greatest passions?” Or “What do you like to do when you are free?” Are harmless questions, the answers of which can say a lot about the applicant.

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Interview questions for the public service

In the public service, you can differentiate between basic, motivational and trick questions.

Basic questions in the public service

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • How would a friend describe you?
  • What was your last major mistake in your job and how did you overcome it?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • What positive and negative things would your last employer say about you?

Motivation questions in the public service

  • Why did you choose the civil service?
  • Why do you want to work in our office / authority?
  • What would you like to achieve with us in the next five years?
  • What do you expect from this position?

Trick questions in the public service

  • Who was the last one you lied to and why?
  • Which word describes you the best?
  • Are you more of a leader or an executor?
  • What were you dissatisfied with in your last position?
  • How would we argue?

Interview questions for service managers or customer service managers

In addition to leadership skills, dealing with customers also plays an important role in the service area:

  • How do you train new team members? What's your approach?
  • How do you measure success in customer service? What key figures are you looking at?
  • What action do you take if your key figures show a negative trend? Explain this using an example key figure.
  • You are receiving negative feedback on one of our features. How do you react?
  • When was the last time you exceeded customer expectations? Describe the situation.
  • How should the service team work with the product team to increase customer satisfaction? In your opinion, what are the three biggest levers?
  • How do you find out about the customer's industry? How do you stay up to date?

Interview questions for dispatchers

Above all, dispatchers need organizational skills and a knack for logistics.

  • Is the supply exceeding the demand? What measures are you taking?
  • Do you lack staff to carry out an important assignment? How do you react?
  • In your opinion, what are the three most important qualities a dispatcher needs? Why? To what extent do you cover these characteristics?
  • How do you react to a high volume of work?
  • How do you organize and prioritize your work?

Which questions are suitable for testing soft skills?

Properties are in demand Teamwork, creativity, resilience, diligence and the ability to criticize. It is precisely these soft skills that can be tested well with certain questions:


  • When you are given a tricky assignment, how do you do it: alone or in a team?
  • What distinguishes you when working with other people?
  • What role do you usually play in groups?
  • What type of person do you enjoy working with?
  • What type of person do you hate to work with?
  • You're running a project. Which departments do you involve and how do you do it?

The applicant's answers provide information about whether he can think in a team and whether he is open to suggestions from outside. They also show whether he can give up responsibility.


  • You are a project manager and half of your team is absent due to the flu. But you have to stick to the schedule. What do you do?
  • What do you do when there seems to be no way out?
  • What creative activities have you carried out in your previous jobs?
  • Which freedoms are important to you in your job?
  • In which situations are you most creative?
  • Which situations can inhibit your creativity?

The answers show whether there is a creative mind at work here - and also whether creativity becomes a particular strength in stressful or time-critical situations.


  • Which stressful situations from your previous professional life do you remember?
  • Have you failed once? How did you deal with it?
  • Do you consider yourself resilient? What are you up to?
  • You are leading a project and you know that the majority of those involved treat you with skepticism. How do you deal with that?

The answers reveal a lot about how the candidate acts in pressure situations. Does he stay calm? Does he deal professionally with stressful situations? Are those involved intelligently and appreciatively involved despite high pressure?


  • What does careful work mean for you? Give examples!
  • How do you check your work for errors?
  • You have a time-sensitive project. What is more important to you: strictly adhering to the deadline or delivering quality, but finishing too late?

The applicant has to come out with these questions: How important is care for him? Does he also sacrifice it once when he has to keep an appointment?

Critical ability

  • You applied to us. What made you leave your old job?
  • Is there something about you that you would like to develop further?
  • Your team stands closed at your desk and says: Your instructions are unclear, your time limits are far too tight. We can't work like that. What do you do?
  • Have you ever been disappointed in yourself? How did you deal with it?

With these questions it becomes clear whether the applicant has the ability for self-reflection or perceives external criticism as an affront. A good team player should be attentive to his colleagues and also be open to criticism.

Provocative questions

It can be instructive to provoke the candidate a little. How does he react? Does he stay calm and prudent? What are the limits? For example, anyone who wants to work in a management position should be able to handle provocations confidently and also have the necessary self-confidence.

Examples of provocative questions

  • Are You The Smartest Person You Know?
  • On a scale from one to ten, how strange are you?
  • Why do you even get up in the morning?
  • What does your partner dislike about you?
  • I can tell from you - you only want to work for us to make money. Your dream job is different. I'm right?
  • We have been talking here for two hours now: How do you still convince us when we are at odds?

Which application questions are inadmissible?

There are also questions that cannot be asked during job interviews. In principle, all questions that the employer has no legitimate interest in answering (“Which political party do you vote for?”) Or which violate the candidate's personal rights (“Are you a believer?”) Are not permitted. An applicant does not have to answer questions that only concern private life and have nothing to do with work. Preparation helps to avoid unpleasant situations and mistakes.


The discussion about the use of artificial intelligence in recruiting and in the context of personnel decisions is getting louder. While people make their decisions about applicants dependent on their liking and mood, algorithms are considered incorruptible. But: They are not always neutral either, because behind every algorithm there is a programmer - he too can have prejudices and transfer them to the code.

Artificial intelligence's capabilities are growing every day, that's true. Nevertheless: in the end, people have to do with each other in the workplace. In this respect, even the most sophisticated analyzes cannot replace “real” life and an open conversation among people can be more effective than the best dry run.