13 Questions to Ask Every Candidate

Steve Lowisz

No one loves their job every single day. There are ups and downs, inconsistencies and annoyances. It’s normal. But, working in a constant state of downs, inconsistencies, and annoyances is NOT normal. Incessant pains and problems shouldn’t be the only consistent aspect of a job. Frustrated employees might not know how to solve these problems themselves; all they know is that something’s got to give.

Recruiters, you’re the solution to their problems. You have to uncover candidates’ specific pains and motivations in order to position yourself as a credible problem-solver. You should not only conduct research about popular industry-specific pains, but also ask candidates these 13 questions focused on their personal experience.


13 Questions to really understand what’s driving your candidate. These questions will help guide your candidate to a solution for their problems without pushing too aggressively with your own assumptions.

1.Where are you today?
By asking such a simple question about their current position, you give the candidate a chance to warm up to you. They’ll likely drop their guard a bit by speaking on a topic they’re comfortable with.

2. What’s working in your role today?
A lot of recruiters are trained to start with what’s not working. The positives are also important to identify in order to learn their main motivations and drivers!

3. What’s not working in your role and/or company today?
When your candidate is comfortable and receptive to having an honest conversation, you can begin to explore the negative side of their current situation.

4. Why do you feel like it’s not working?
After identifying what’s not working, you’ve got to understand the “why” behind it to gain a further understanding of their motivations.

5. What’s missing?
Lead the candidate to think about what they want from their job that they’re not getting.

6. What are you going to do to fix it?
Have them consider what steps are needed to change their circumstances.

7. What do you want out of the situation?
Their ideal outcome gives a lot of insight to what’s important to the candidate as a person.

8. Why do you want that result?
Once again, it’s important to understand the “why” behind the “what.”

9. What major obstacles are in your way?
Realistically identifying obstacles can help a candidate understand if they might be insurmountable in their position.

10. What have you done to overcome those obstacles?
Learn what efforts, if any, they’ve put in to get around some of their obstacles.

11. What was the result of your efforts?
Perhaps they’ve made attempts to change their situation to no avail.

12. Where do you think you should go next?
Have the candidate think about their future and where they want to be. Lead them down the path that there may be a new opportunity.

13. How can I help you get there?
You’re not there to tell them what to do with their life, you’re there to help them realize their options.

Keep in mind that these questions aren’t necessarily meant to be asked in the same order every time. They simply serve as another resource to help you help candidates. Get into their minds to understand the drivers or the motivators of individual candidates. Identify a common problem and position yourself as the solution!