How To Write Interview Questions: Five Easy Steps

Preparing to discover whether respondents are a good fit for your job offer? Check out these tips on how to write interview questions.

Writing interview questions is easier said than done. You know the basics of an interview: explaining to the applicant what they’ll do in a day at work, going over the job description, and, of course, asking all kinds of questions. 

It can be tough to figure out what questions to ask in a real-life interview, and preparing a list of questions and answers that you’re looking for can help to smooth out the job interview process. Here, we’ll take a look at everything you need to know to develop the types of questions that will help you understand whether a candidate at the interview stage of your hiring process is a good fit for your organization. 

Step 1: Brainstorm

How to write interview questions?

Get your ideas onto paper, and try not to worry too much about whether you’re writing a good interview question or not at this stage. You’ll have plenty of time to improve your list later. 

As you brainstorm, think about the position and the specific questions you need to ask in order to ensure that the candidate is a good fit. Try to steer your list toward open-ended questions that give your interviewee the chance to expand and tell you about their experiences. Do your best to stay away from simple yes or no questions. 

If you’re not very familiar with the position for which you’ll be hiring, you may want to spend some time learning more about the position. This can be done by taking a few hours to go through the daily motions with team members who would work closely with the applicant. Use the information you gain during this process to inform some of the questions you’ll ask the interviewee during the actual interview.

Step 2: Hone Your List

If you can, take a day or two to step away from your interview questions, allowing you some time to come back with a fresh perspective. Begin looking over your brainstormed list of questions, and cross out anything that’s redundant or not applicable to the job. 

You may want to ensure that you have some standard interview questions on your list, including: 

  • Tell me a little bit about yourself. 
  • What is your biggest strength?
  • What is your biggest weakness?
  • Where do you want to go within this organization?
  • Explain a difficulty you encountered in your last job, and share how you overcame the problem.

In addition to standard interview questions, you’ll also want to ensure that you include plenty of questions that are job-specific. 

For example, if you’re hiring for an administrative assistant position, you may want to ask questions such as: 

  • What role do you feel the administrative assistant serves in the office?
  • What do you enjoy about being an administrative assistant?
  • What software and office equipment are you proficient in using?
  • Describe a project you enjoyed working on as an administrative assistant.
  • What skills do you believe are most important in the role of an administrative assistant and why?

These are different from questions you might ask an IT professional during a job interview: 

  • What development tools have you used?
  • What languages have you programmed in?
  • What source control tools have you used?
  • What are your technical qualifications?
  • What do you do to maintain your technical qualifications?

Step 3: Develop Follow Up Questions

It’s likely that you’ll naturally develop follow-up questions during the interview as you listen to the interviewee’s answers, but it’s also smart to write up some follow-up questions that could apply depending on their answers. Remember, you’ll want to consider several different ways that each applicant could answer your initial questions, and your follow-up questions should cover a number of different directions that could be taken by the interviewee. Looking for more how-to-guide articles? You might find our guide on how to write a testimonial helpful in writing that testimonial on a product or service you enjoyed.

Step 4: Get Feedback

How to write interview questions?
After the interview is complete, ask them for their thoughts on the applicant, and carefully consider their feedback

As a hiring manager or supervisor, it’s likely that you won’t be the one spending a typical day at work with your new employee. It’s smart to talk with those who will be on the same team as the new hire to get their opinion on what types of questions need to be asked during the job interview. 

Encourage team members to take some time and think about what people who held the role previously did well, and areas that could use some improvement. Ask them what types of questions they’d have for a person who would potentially work in that role. 

You may also consider asking one of the applicant’s potential team members to sit in on the actual interview as well. People who will work with the applicant day to day may better be able to craft follow-up questions at the moment. This can make it easier to get a good sense of whether the candidate is a good fit for the job. 

If you decide to allow a potential team member to sit in on the actual interview, be sure to let them know beforehand that it’s ok for them to ask questions. After the interview is complete, ask them for their thoughts on the applicant, and carefully consider their feedback.

Step 5: Differentiate Between Screening Questions And Follow Up Questions

You likely can’t (and don’t want to) spend countless hours interviewing potential applicants for the open position. You can cut down on some of the time in the interview process by splitting your interview questions into screening questions and questions that you’ll ask during the actual interview. 

Screening questions can be asked online through your application submission platform. You may want to stick to yes and no questions for your screening process, as this can give you a fast and simple way to get to know an applicant’s qualifications.

Seeing an applicant’s answers to screening questions can help you get an idea of whether they’re a good fit for the position. If you need clarification on an applicant’s answer to a screening question, you can reach out over the phone to find out whether it’s worth asking them to come in for an interview. 

The Final Word On How To Write Interview Questions

By preparing interview questions prior to meeting with a job applicant, you’re making it clear that you value the applicant’s time. Be sure to revisit your interview question list often, as you hone in on which questions provide you and your hiring team with the most valuable information.

Is this your first time creating writing prompts? Check out our guide on how to create a writing prompt. Or you can also check out our other how-to articles by typing “how to” in our search bar.

FAQs On How To Write Interview Questions

Is it necessary to write all interview questions ahead of time?

It’s smart to have a basic idea of the questions you’ll want to ask as you interview applicants. You can also jot down some follow-up questions. As the conversation between you and your applicant flows naturally, it’s likely that you’ll develop some follow-up questions that you hadn’t thought about beforehand.

Should interview questions differ depending on the position for which the interviewee is applying?

Yes. While some of your interview questions are likely to be the same for all employees, others should be specific to the job for which the person is applying.

  • Bryan Collins is the owner of Become a Writer Today. He's an author from Ireland who helps writers build authority and earn a living from their creative work. He's also a former Forbes columnist and his work has appeared in publications like Lifehacker and Fast Company.