A definitive ranking of the best interview questions to ask graduate job candidates

Ever wondered which questions your peers and competitors are routinely asking graduate candidates at interview?

We recently set out to find out just that.

GradTouch surveyed close to 200 graduate employers, talent managers, heads of departments and recruiters across the UK about their approach to graduate interviews.

As part of the survey, we asked interviewers to score questions based on how often they ask them, to determine which interview questions are most popular.

Interviewers then selected the one question they consider to be the most effective in helping them to decide whether to hire a graduate candidate.

Revealingly, though certain questions, such as “what are your salary expectations?” received a low score for effectiveness – it is still routinely asked by almost half of graduate interviewers.

Meanwhile, “tell me about yourself” was found to be the second most effective interview question to ask graduate candidates, but only 34% of interviewers are “always” utilising it.

The most popular graduate job interview questions, as rated by Early Careers professionals

Survey respondents scored the following list of interview questions based on how often they ask them, from “always” to “never”.

Questions about a candidate’s knowledge of, or interest in, the company proved the most popular.

  1. “What do you know about the company?” | 64% of interviewers “always” ask this
  2. “Why did you choose this company?” | 59% of interviewers “always” ask this
  3. “Why are you leaving your current role/why are you looking for a job at the moment?” | 52% of interviewers “always” ask this
  4. “What are your salary expectations?” | 46% of interviewers “always” ask this
  5. “Tell me about yourself.” | 34% of interviewers “always” ask this
  6. “What are your hobbies?” | 26% of interviewers “always” ask this
  7. “Where do you see yourself in five years?” | 14% of interviewers “always” ask this
  8. “What’s your biggest professional weakness?” | 13% of interviewers “always” ask this
  9. “What’s your biggest professional strength?” | 12% of interviewers “always” ask this
  10. “What do you think the first month would look like in this role?” | 10% of interviewers “always” ask this
  11. “What do you do to keep up with industry news and trends?” | 9% of interviewers “always” ask this
  12. “What do you think we could be doing differently?” | 7% of interviewers “always” ask this

The most effective graduate job interview questions, as rated by Early Careers professionals

Survey respondents were also asked to select the one question they consider most effective in assessing whether a graduate candidate is right for a given role.

Once again, questions that test a candidate’s knowledge and enthusiasm came out on top, as did open-ended questions designed to find out more about a candidate’s personality, such as the classic: “Tell me about yourself.”

  1. “Why did you choose this company?” | 34% of interviewers selected this as the “most effective” interview question
  2. “Tell me about yourself.” | 21% of interviewers selected this as the “most effective” interview question
  3. “What do you know about the company?” | 13% of interviewers selected this as the “most effective” interview question
  4. “What’s your biggest professional strength?” | 9% of interviewers selected this as the “most effective” interview question
  5. “Where do you see yourself in five years?” | 7% of interviewers selected this as the “most effective” interview question
  6. “Why are you leaving your current role/why are you looking for a job at the moment?” | 5% of interviewers selected this as the “most effective” interview question
  7. “What do you think the first month would look like in this role?” | 4% of interviewers selected this as the “most effective” interview question
  8. “What’s your biggest professional weakness?” | 3% of interviewers selected this as the “most effective” interview question
  9. “What do you do to keep up with industry news and trends?” | 2% of interviewers selected this as the “most effective” interview question
  10. “What do you think we could be doing differently?” | 2% of interviewers selected this as the “most effective” interview question
  11. “What are your salary expectations?” | 1% of interviewers selected this as the “most effective” interview question
  12. “What are your hobbies?” | 1% of interviewers selected this as the “most effective” interview question

Want more insights and data on how graduate employers across the UK are interviewing candidates in 2018?

Download our latest ebook, ‘Interviewing Graduate Candidates: a strategies and trends report’ now.