what is a killer question?
In the world of hiring and employment, killer questions are used to filter out job candidates. These questions make it easier for the hiring team to screen for the candidates who are the most qualified or the best fit for the role.
Killer questions can be used during the application phase or during the interview process. As part of the application phase, killer questions can be included as a mandatory part of the application or sent after the application has been submitted as a supplement to an applicant’s hiring file. Their answers can also be used as a way to filter applications within an applicant tracking system (ATS).
During the interview phase, the right killer questions can get candidates to think on their feet rather than providing polished, prepared answers—a great way to identify those who will be the best fit for the role.
different types of killer questions.
Killer questions can come in many forms. The one trait that they all share is that they should make it easier to screen and find the right candidate for the job.
Open-ended or closed-ended
Open-ended questions, which have an infinite number of responses, are typically quite subjective and may require additional screening by recruiters or hiring managers. Closed-ended questions—those with a set of predefined responses to choose from—are a bit more useful for screening, as they can easily be scored based on acceptable answers.
Killer questions can give hiring managers the chance to force candidates to think outside of the box during the interview process. Asking questions that require strategic thinking or analysis can further help find candidates that are the best fit for the open position.
Killer questions can be used to screen for specific skills or years of experience. By asking these questions outright, it saves recruiters time scanning resumes and looking for a very specific answer.
The questions can also be more general. For example, simply asking if a candidate has a driver’s license is a quick way to filter out applicants if driving is a necessary part of the role.
when to use killer questions.
Killer questions are most often used when you need to further screen your candidate pool. During the interview process, they are used to demonstrate to the interviewers how the candidate thinks, problem solves, or strategises. In all cases, killer questions are a useful way to narrow in on the candidate you want.
large applicant pool
Some jobs, especially entry-level ones, may generate a large number of applications. Killer questions can be used to more succinctly narrow the pool of candidates. Answers to killer questions should be searchable within your ATS, making it easy to screen and filter candidates.
highly technical roles
Jobs that require very specific skills are perfect for killer questions. Roles that require candidates to have certain certifications or experience can easily be screened using a closed-ended questionnaire during the application process.
If a job has been open for an extended period of time, killer questions can be used to help further identify or screen candidates. Throughout a lengthy interview process, it will become easier to zero in on what specific skills are needed and these can be addressed first with killer questions.
roles that require critical thinking skills
Some killer questions can help you assess a candidate’s skills beyond what’s on their resume. By being asked questions about situations in past roles, candidates will need to think on their feet and provide answers that haven’t been practised.
killer question examples during the application stage.
When asking killer questions during the application process, it’s easier and more effective to ask questions with objective answers. Closed-ended questions are best used in this instance because it is easy to then filter through answers.
Since these questions are objective, it’s not as important to ask questions about the candidate’s specific experience, but more about their specific skills as they relate to the job. Here are some examples:
- How many years of experience do you have in [insert skill area here]?
- Do you have experience using [insert software program here]?
- Are you certified in [insert program here]?
In each of these examples, the answer could easily be selected from a curated dropdown list. Then the answers can be filtered when looking for candidates to interview.
killer question examples for interviews.
There are hundreds of examples of killer interview questions to choose from. When deciding which to ask, it’s best to avoid common ones. Because they’re so common, candidates will more than likely have a practised answer, which defeats the purpose when you’re looking for a candid answer. Common killer questions include:
- Tell me of a time when you worked with a difficult co-worker.
- Describe a situation in which you didn’t meet a client’s expectations.
- Tell me about something that you are currently learning about?
In an interview context (rather than during the application phase) a key reason to ask killer questions is to force the candidate to formulate an answer in the moment. Here are less common examples:
- What achievement that’s not on your CV are you most proud of?
- How would you describe a great day at work?
- What have you learned about yourself in the last five years?
ask the right questions to find the best talent.
Making a bad hire can be expensive. By using more inventive application and interview tactics, like asking original killer questions, you can get more of the information you need to make smart hiring decisions.
Ready to organise your candidates and streamline your hiring process? Book a free demo and see how hireful’s ATS can help.