Leaders share their number one interview question (and why they ask it)

Interviews provide a great opportunity to get to know a candidate and ensure they are a good fit for your business. So how do you make the most of each interview?

We asked some of Australia’s leading HR professionals to share their favourite interview question and the reason why they ask it.

QUESTION: “Talk me through your best day at work.”

For Xero’s chief customer and people officer, Rachael Powell, this question reveals a candidate’s strengths, and also delves into what energises them and what they are intrinsically motivated to do.            

“This question can provide great insights into whether the role being recruited for, and the company culture is going to be in line with what suits them as an individual,” says Powell.

QUESTION: “What are your three strengths and three opportunities?”

Claire Planinsek, Manager of frontline resourcing at Australia Post nominates three questions she likes to ask candidates.

Planinsek asks this “to ensure the individual is able to talk about their positives as well as have insight into any areas of development”.

QUESTION: “What are key challenges you believe you would face in this role that you would like support with?”

“This ensures the candidate has thought about the role and business in detail, plus the fact they will be open to seeking assistance and able to work collaboratively,” says Planinsek.

QUESTION: “Tell me about the leader who you worked best with and why. What was their leadership style?”

Planinsek also likes to ask this question as it provides insight into what leadership style resonates with the candidate to help them be successful in the role:

QUESTION: “Do you have any questions for me?”

Andrew Dixon, the Head of Talent Acquisition at Bankwest says he sees interviews as a two-way conversation.

“It’s as much a decision for the candidate as it is for the employer,” he says.

“I'm very surprised when a candidate doesn't have any questions for me,” Dixon says. “Are they interested in this role or in our company; have they spent any time preparing, thinking about how it fits into their career path, current lifestyle; do they really care?”

QUESTION: “What are the top three skills or capabilities you would bring to this role/company?”

For Duncan MacKay, National Australia Bank’s Head of Talent Acquisition, it’s important to hear about a candidate’s future capability and how it is relevant for the new company.

“We should already know a lot about their technical skills from their CV,” he says.

“I like this question as it gives a good indication of what the prospective employee believes is most important for the role,” MacKay says.

“It is always interesting to see if their answer centres around a technical skill (which is often based on experience) or a softer skill based on capability and future ability.”

Top interview questions:

  • Talk me through your best day at work.
  • What are your three strengths and three opportunities?
  • What do you see are the key challenges you would face in this role that you would like support with?
  • Tell me about the leader who you worked best with and why. What was their leadership style?
  • What are the top three skills or capabilities you would bring to this role/company?

Get interview ready

Prepare for your next interview with SEEK’s Interview Builder. This easy-to-use resource provides access to 40 best-practice interview questions in an easy drag-and-drop format.