What is Your Interview Process Saying About You?

Learn how to conduct fair and objective interviews through the use of these questions to and create a positive candidate experience.

31 May 2019 Articles Employment contract Recruitment Best practices


Interviews are a very important touchpoint in the recruitment and selection process. It is a significant part of the overall process as candidates have the opportunity to interact closely with a representative of your company. In this role as ambassador of your company, how the interview is conducted and the candidate’s overall experience during this session will have a significant impact on your company’s image and reputation. There are several interviewing techniques available and interviewers typically use a combination of these techniques to assess and identify potential with the best fit for the role, and the best alignment with corporate values. In today’s context, how do we identify the talent “gems” who see our organisation as an opportunity for them to contribute their skills? Here are some techniques for you to use: 

  • Open-ended questions
  • Close-ended questions 
  • Probing questions
  • Situational questions
  • Competency-based questions
  • Behavioural interview questions

In this article, we will focus on competency-based questions which interviewers can use to ensure candidates are fairly assessed based on the selection criteria that focus on skills, knowledge, experience, abilities and attributes that are critical for the incumbents to perform the job. Competency-based questions are more systematic than random open questioning as each question targets a specific competency. Hence, the questions are usually phrased in a way to draw out information to ascertain if the candidates will be likely to fulfil the requirements of the job. 

Interviewers typically start off with question such as “Tell me about a time…” to set the context, and drill down with probing questions to find out more about the specific actions taken and the outcomes or lessons learnt for that particular situation. Such questions give candidates an opportunity to provide real-life examples to illustrate that they have the skillset or ability that is being assessed. These are some examples of questions that companies could adapt for their interviews.

Questions on job experience

As you are applying for a [sales position], tell us about your key accomplishments/deals.

  • What were some of the strategies you used to win the customers over?
  • What were some of the challenges you encountered and how did you overcome them?
  • Were there any solutions that you created with your team which gave the customers a much better result?
  • What was your sales results? How much revenue did you generate for your previous company?
  • What were the challenges you encountered when handling difficult customers?

Questions on teamwork

Tell me about a time when you switched teams or when you were transferred to a new team.

  • What did you do as a new team member?
  • How did you win your team over?
  • Why did you choose this approach?
  • What was your relationship with the team in the end?

Questions on leadership

Giving constant feedback to subordinates is part and parcel of the supervisory role that you have applied for, tell us a time when you had to give negative feedback to your subordinates or colleagues. 

  • What was the negative feedback?
  • How did you communicate it?
  • What consideration(s) you had in deciding how to communicate it?
  • What was your subordinates’ or colleagues’ reaction? How did you manage the negative reaction?
  • If the situation presented itself to you again, what would you have done differently?

Questions on interpersonal skills

As a [customer-relationship associate], building and maintaining good relationships with clients is important. Give examples of how you established positive relationship with clients or colleagues in your previous role/organisation. 

  • What steps did you take to build and maintain good relationships?
  • What were the problems faced and how did you overcome them?

As a key touchpoint in the recruitment and selection process, competency-based interviews are one way of ensuring that the interview is conducted fairly. Companies that invest time and effort to ensure they provide a positive candidate experience throughout the recruitment and selection process are better able to attract top talent and build their company brand. If the interview has left a favourable impression on the candidate (even if they did not get the role), they are more likely to speak well of the company, and re-apply for a future position.

Please refer to the Fair Recruitment and Selection Handbook for more information on the guiding principles and practical tips to design a fair and objective recruitment process to enhance your candidates’ experience.