Inside the interview: business leaders reveal their favourite questions

Posted in Candidates, Employers

Posted by Joanne Caine
Published on 24 July, 2018

Enough theory. We asked seven business leaders their favourite questions to ask when interviewing candidates. From the comical to the canny, what they told us proves that - apart from being an oddly British obsession - each interview is unique for all involved.

Interviews: you can never have too much practice. Or so they say. There’s oodles of information out there about the best questions to ask candidates and how candidates should answer them. But when it comes to the crunch, every interview is very much one of a kind. 

To shed some light on what happens once the door to the interview room shuts, we asked seven business leaders from across the West Country to give us their favourite interview questions. This is what they told us...

Robert Chalk - Director | Chalk & Ward

“I don't have any set question as such. My aim is to break the ice and put the interviewee at ease as early into the interview as possible. I want to find out what sort of person he or she is in terms of attitude. Only when they are at ease will I truly find out! Skills you can teach, but a positive attitude is either part of someone's make up or not.”

Paul James - Director of Finance | Pluss

“The one question I use in most interviews is: ‘You're one of many candidates that have the same qualifications and experience for this role. What makes you different and why should we appoint you?’ I ask that to test personality, attitude and fit for the company.
“There’s no model answer but with a lot of candidates seemingly carbon copies on paper I need to see what makes people tick. It's such an open question that you can get into a very worthwhile discussion around candidates' aspirations, values and strengths/weaknesses, without actually asking those direct questions.
“It does rule a lot of people out who aren't able to sell themselves past their CV's and don't have the personal skills required.”

Miriam Tucker - HR Advisor The Exeter

“So here’s the question: ‘Give me one reason why I wouldn’t employ you?’
“The answer: ‘Temporary insanity!’
“She didn’t get the job, but it was the best answer we had!”

Dave Pike - CEO | Graphic PLC

“One of my last questions at an interview is: ‘Please tell me why I should employ you.’ The best reply I have had was: ‘If you don't employ me you will be losing your best ever employee.’” 

Deborah Carrington - Head of HR | Porter Dodson

“‘What motivates you to do a good job?
“What we’re looking for is an answer that is aligned to the cultural values of our company.”

Marie Quick - Director | Parnalls Solicitors 

“The question: ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’
“The answer:  ‘The boss or retired!’

Andrea Hazelton - HR Manager | Stormfront Retail

“Warm up questions:
•             Who would you invite round for dinner and why?
•             Where did you last visit for your holiday?
•             Tell me something about you that nobody else knows?
“The next question depending on the level of role recruiting:
•             If your best friend was sitting next to you, what would he/she say about you?
General questions (again depending on the role that we are recruiting for):
•             Sell me this BIC pen
•             Is it more important for you to be liked or to be right?
•             Where do your opportunities lie?
•             What motivates you?
•             Please provide an example of where you have overcome adversity/displayed initiative/managed a difficult situation. Did you get the result you were expecting and if not why not?
•             What is your most significant achievement to date and why?
•             Why do you want this role?


Managing Director

I joined Cathedral Appointments in 1998 to cover a maternity leave and never left. I now own the business and love my job. I've a great team of consultants who work with me in ensuring that Cathedral Appointments provide an excellent service to candidates and clients alike.

More posts

Inside the interview: business leaders reveal their favourite questions

About cookies

We use cookies on this site to help improve user experience and deliver services. By using this site you consent to the use of cookies.