Killer interview questions: what they are and tips for crafting them

Killer questions are inquiries integrated into the selection process that allow the screening of candidates.  Due to their nature, these...
25 January 2024

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Killer interview questions: what they are and tips for crafting them

Killer questions are inquiries integrated into the selection process that allow the screening of candidates. 

Due to their nature, these types of questions are often included in automated profile selection systems, especially regarding questions with pre-established answers. Additionally, they are common in job interviews using open-ended questions to delve into a person’s skills.

In this article, we will not only delve into killer questions but also share some tips for crafting them.

What are killer questions?

Killer questions are a set of challenging questions for candidates used as a screening method in recruitment processes. 

Based on their responses, they are employed to eliminate candidates, often automatically through technological tools.

These questions can be included in pre-interview forms or developed during the interview itself to analyze the candidate’s real-time reaction. 

The purposes of these questions include:

  1. Streamlining the selection process: Since they can be automated in most cases, some job portals and professional recruiters offer this service to expedite the hiring process.
  1. Establishing candidate filters: The posed questions address strategic needs of the organization, and the candidate must respond appropriately.
  1. Analyzing the candidate’s reaction: These questions often aim to discomfort the person to assess their response under pressure.
  1. Discovering if the candidate is the right fit: This involves determining if the candidate possesses the necessary competencies and skills for the offered position and if their profile aligns with the company culture.
Killer interview questions: what they are and tips for crafting them

All of this is also linked to the satisfaction of individuals joining an organization’s human capital, influencing its workplace atmosphere.

In this regard, implementing a job crafting policy from the selection process benefits their integration into the company. This strategy invites the candidate to actively participate in defining the job they will perform.

Types of killer questions

Three types of killer questions respond to different motivations of recruiters.

Closed questions

These questions demand pre-established answers without allowing for additional interpretations or considerations. They are common in scored questionnaires or forms that objectively evaluate candidates based on their responses.

Due to their nature, they are most frequent in automated processes using specialized Human Resources (HR) software with parameters managed by artificial intelligence. For example, a closed killer question could be: “Do you have any Spanish language certification?” In this case, the company considers Spanish proficiency as a determining factor for the candidacy.

Possible responses in an automated form could be:

  • Yes: This response allows progression to the next phase.
  • No: In this case, the candidate is rejected.

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Open questions

In this type of killer question, the response is entirely free, aiming to gather additional information beyond what is already known about the candidate. 

They also allow the evaluation of power skills, such as communication ability, emotional intelligence, or analytical thinking.

These questions are usually more uncomfortable than closed ones because respondents need to provide reasoning without predetermined criteria. They may revolve around work and salary expectations or why the candidate is interested in that specific company.

Other questions may delve into the candidate’s personality, exploring their passions, social commitments, aspirations, etc. When evaluating results for these questions, avoiding falling into subjective judgments is essential.

Three types of killer questions respond to different motivations of recruiters.

Killer questions to ask at the end of an interview

In this third option, we’ve played a little trick. The asking of a last killer question at the end of the interview is usually more of a candidate’s responsibility than the interviewer’s.

Asking thoughtful and strategic questions at the end of a job interview can help the candidate gather important information, demonstrate their interest in the role, and leave a positive impression on the interviewer. 

Here are some killer questions to consider as an example:

Can you describe the company culture?

This shows the candidate’s interest in fitting into the company environment and understanding if it aligns with their work style.

What are the key priorities for the person in this role in the first 90 days?

This question demonstrates the candidate’s eagerness to contribute quickly and allows them to visualize the immediate expectations of the role.

How does the company support professional development and career growth?

This indicates that the candidate is focused on long-term commitment and self-improvement.

What do you enjoy most about working for this company?

This personalizes the conversation, provides insights into the interviewer’s perspective, and can help candidates evaluate whether the company is a good fit for them.

How does the team collaborate and communicate?

Understanding the team dynamics and communication methods can give the candidate insights into how they’ll be working with their colleagues.

Killer questions are inquiries integrated into the selection process

Tips for crafting killer questions in a job interview

When crafting killer questions, in addition to considering your organization’s objectives, it’s important to take the following aspects into account to make the most of them:

  1. Clarity: The formulation should be unequivocal, avoiding ambiguities through concise and clear questions.
  1. Objectivity: Questions should be precise enough to obtain valuable information that can be objectively evaluated.
  1. Structure: The topics addressed should follow an order to make the killer questions effective. Initially, focus on technical and theoretical competencies to filter the initial profiles, then gradually address other dimensions related to expectations and personality.
  1. Privacy: The risk of falling into discriminatory biases should be assessed at all times to avoid them. Avoid questions related to intimate aspects such as religion, political ideology, medical issues, etc. 

Introducing remote monitoring systems is a useful precaution to protect people’s privacy, especially in online recruitment processes.

Such tools, like the ones we offer at Smowltech through our proctoring plans, are designed to scrupulously respect users’ digital rights.

Request a free demo with us to see how we can practically enhance your personnel selection strategies.


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