SmartRecruiters Blog

Top 10 Interview Questions from Recruiting Startups

Retire ‘what’s your greatest weakness?’ from your interview repertoire, and try one of these,  fresh from the mouths of the brightest new recruiting startups.

Candidates are sick of stock questions and hiring managers are equally unenthused about cookie-cutter answers.  We turned to some of our Recruiting Startups of the Year nominees to help you if you’re in an interview-question rut.

We selected 10 of the 50 recruiting startups vying for first place at  Hiring Success 18, in San Francisco, March 12-14 to give us their favorite interview questions – the ones that really help you get to know how someone thinks.

Once you’re done reading, cast your RSOTY ballot here before March 1st. Your vote determines which six are flying to California to pitch their ideas to 1000+ Talent Acquisition leaders and puts them in the running for the grand prize.

One of these six will be selected by a group of C-Suite experts and industry analysts for the ultimate prize of a Gold Sponsorship to Hiring Success 19, worth $10,000, which includes a branded booth and dedicated demo-room for potential customers to interact with their product. is a job relocation platform for software developers seeking long-term employment opportunities abroad.

Founder and CEO, Andrew Stetsenko

One of my most beloved interview questions is, ‘what’s your favorite book and what are you reading now?’

I always try to ask questions that go beyond a someone’s professional traits. It’s always interesting to find out what they do outside of work –  do they play sports, do they volunteer, do they like to travel? These questions give me a sense of a candidate as a whole person beyond just checking off skills. 


HeyJobs is a candidate sourcing platform for high-volume hiring demands. Through tech – and data- enable performance marketing for jobs and a modern application solution, HeyJobs delivers significantly more quality candidates for clients than their existing solutions.

Founder and CEO  Marius Luther 

“Tell me about the topic you are most passionate about in life. In 3 minutes, help me become an expert in that topic by explaining it.”

I love this question because it helps me find out a) how passionate/driven the person is, b) how logical he can explain, c) whether he is an exciting personality. Also, this way I learn about a new topic every interview. is the first Talent Operations Platform that provides intelligent interview scheduling for recruiting teams. We seamlessly schedule high-volume phone interviews and complex onsite interviews, allowing companies to scale efficiently while focusing on higher value talent acquisition activities.

CEO, Ahryun Moon

“What kind of advice would you give to your current manager to help them grow into a better manager?”

Recruitsy is the smartest way to connect candidates and hiring managers with the best recruiters. We bring the candidate experience to the forefront with the first-to-market public rating and review platform built exclusively for the staffing and recruiting industry that features over 30,000+ recruiting agencies.

Founder and CEO, Kurt Smith

What is your ‘why to buy message’?  Which translates into their elevator pitch and 30 second sale for why I should hire them. Our personal/career brand is everything and we should be prepared to quickly describe our value proposition. I’m looking for what makes this person unique relative to their peers. It’s also a question that they typically haven’t rehearsed coming into the interview.

Are you an experienced recruiter looking for a great employer? Are you a great employer looking for an experienced recruiter? In either case, Recruiterly could be the one-stop platform for you.

 Cofounder, Jamie Robshaw

A favourite ‘type’ of question is one that challenges the industry without bias and is asked with the entire purpose of working towards a better solution. One question we recently asked a series of some of the top global recruitment industry influencers was to call ‘bullshit’ on one myth in recruitment. That evoked some great responses and lead to some very interesting discussions. There are so many strong feelings about the misconceptions in the industry…on both sides of the fence! 

JobPal builds chatbots for the recruiting context and industry with a strong focus on user experience.

Founder, Luc Dudler

As a first question I always ask: ‘Regardless of this conversation, our company and your current job what do you want to do professionally as a next step?’ You can get a lot from it. 

Ratedly monitors anonymous employee review websites and sends you alerts when new ones are posted online.

Founder, Joel Cheesman 

“If you’re in here a year from now resigning, what would be the likely reason?” I love this question because it throws candidates for a loop, forcing them to think on their feet, and gives employers real insight into how to retain that candidate. 

ROIKOI surfaces candidates who are diverse and pre-screened for talent, fit, and likelihood to join a company. ROIKOI customers make 1 hire by contacting just 25 passive candidates in the platform, save $10K per hire, and most notably, improve employee diversity.

CRO, Houston Perry

favorite interview question is: “Do you have any questions for us?” It gives the candidate an opportunity to showcase their knowledge and passion for the company they want to join. 

Journey is a game based interactive simulation which allows companies to quickly screen candidates by assessing skills such as communication, collaboration, leadership, influencing, and emotional intelligence.

CEO, Rajiv Roopan

“Tell me about an interesting problem that you came across and how you went about solving it?” 

Botmatic automates the process from candidates application to employees on-boarding with chatbots.

CEO, Arthur Boivin

My favorite question interview is “Do you have a motto?” Well, one for hiring is “Go to bed with a dream, wake up with a purpose.” Hiring is all about finding purpose between a company and a candidate. 

Kaya Payseno