Candidates might think that the hiring manager got the easy part of the deal in an interview. However, conducting interviews which are effective is not that simple, and the responsibility is significant. Optimising the time during the interview is key to ensure you get all the information you can.
Interviews in fact take a lot of preparation from both sides, and the tougher the competition is, then the tougher the questions need to be. Questions should be formulated in a way to pick up on the nuances of a candidate’s values and attitude as well as capabilities. It’s much more than picking up the job description, reeling off a few questions and ticking the boxes. In approximately 30 minutes, the hiring manager should have a good idea of whether this person is the right fit. So what questions will help you recognise the good ones? Here are a few:
1. Tell me about something about yourself which others are always surprised to find out
Whilst this gives the candidate the opportunity to talk about themselves which is a great way to start, it is unlikely that you will get a rehearsed answer. You’ll get to see whether the candidate can think on their feet as well as give you the chance to learn something different as opposed to the usual run-of-the-mill descriptions.
2. What do you value in your work relationships?
Rather than ask ‘Do you enjoy working in a team?’ which will often just elicit a ‘yes’, because no one will ever say that they hate it, this open-ended question will give you far more insight. Not only will you learn whether the candidate is a team player or not, but also how and where they would fit in, and how much they would contribute to the team.
3. How would your co-workers describe you?
Another question that will make candidates stop and think rather than reel off a rehearsed answer. It should give you a good idea of how they interact with their colleagues, what soft skills they possess as well as what attributes they think are important.
4. Why are you leaving your current job?
This one will give you insight on what are they looking for in their career and in the workplace, so you can establish whether your company would be a good fit. Are they leaving because they couldn’t handle the pressure? Because they weren’t getting on with their colleagues? Or because they had outgrown the company?
5. What attracted you to this company?
Instead of asking: ‘What do you know about this company?’, which will almost certainly produce a rehearsed, factual answer about your products and services and which will certainly determine whether candidates have done their research or not, try asking this instead. With this one question you will not only find out what candidates know about your company but also whether they values are aligned with yours.
6. Why do you want this job?
Their answer will clearly show whether they have the right attitude and passion for the role, or whether it is just about the pay and their qualifications. It will also show you whether candidates researched the job properly and if they know what is expected of them.
7. If you had to change something in your past (work-wise), what would it be?
This is an interesting one. Does the candidate have the self-awareness to recognise mistakes? How have they learnt from these mistakes and did they benefit from the lesson learnt? Is the situation they bring up placing blame at someone else’s feet or do they have a sense of accountability and do they own the consequences of their actions?
8. Tell me a success story that you are proud of.
The story they tell you will let on what they consider to be a success, therefore inadvertently showing what they value and also possibly their strengths. Are they the main or only protagonist in their story, or is the success a team effort? Was the story a success because they got recognition for it? Or because they overcame a seemingly impossible situation? This will tell you loads about them, how they work and what their motivators are.
9. What is your ideal working environment?
Ask this to see if candidates fit in well with the company culture.
10. What areas do you feel you need to develop?
Instead of asking the usual ‘What are your weaknesses?’ question, ask this and you’ll learn them anyway. Moreover, you’re more likely to get an honest answer about them as candidates feel that they are being given the chance to improve themselves and may even tell you why they’d like to develop these areas, rather than just list what they are not good at. Nobody enjoys doing that.
More than Questions
Of course asking all the right questions will help to ensure that you pick quality candidates, and these listed are only a few of what could be asked. However, it’s not all about the questions. Also watch body language, the way they greet the receptionist on the way in and their general attitude. After all, as the saying goes: Attitude is Everything… or almost!