Although job interviews are sometimes viewed as being all about grilling the interviewee with tricky questions; they are in fact a two-way process. The interviewee is there to try and secure themselves a job or at least be given the option of whether to accept your vacancy if offered. You are there to identify the best candidate for the job.
To do this, you will need to ask the right questions of the candidates to ensure that you really do hire the best candidates. This is achieved by asking appropriate, enquiring and relevant questions using the correct techniques to acquire the best answers from the candidates.
It should also be remembered that, at this point in the interview process, you are “the face of the company” for the interviewee. The whole process will be scrutinised by them and, if offered the position, they may base their decision on how you came across, the image you reflect of the company, the questions you asked and how you asked them, as well as the more practical aspects such as pay and benefits and the opportunity to progress within the company.
Therefore, for both of these reasons, the questions you ask are really very important. It is useful to follow a logical format and apply it to each interview; indeed, all candidates should be asked the same questions to ensure fairness to all. It is a good idea to have pre-printed sheets with the questions and spaces for you to write the answers during the interview. Remember that these then need to be stored and managed in accordance with your privacy policies and requirements.
The logical format for asking questions is generally:
- Questions that explore the candidate’s background
A starting question here is often ‘tell me about yourself?’. Use the CV to draw out more questions around their answer or indeed ask them to talk through their CV.
- Questions that help you assess their skills, abilities and competences
These questions will help you determine whether they will be able to do the job. They will form your views about the candidate in the workplace from real examples of their experience in given situations and other people’s thoughts/views on them. It is all about finding out if their skills and experience equip them to fulfil the job role on offer.
- Questions on technical matters and case studies
These questions are more about assessing the candidate’s knowledge as it relates to the job on offer. They will be more detailed questions that really drill down into the candidate’s abilities. Give scenarios or case studies and ask the candidate how they would deal with these situations. The more relevant these questions to the actual job role the better the fit of candidate you will get.
- Questions on the future
These will include questions about the candidate’s future intentions and priorities such as how long they would intend to remain in the role, what their long-term goals are, etc. You can also ask them about how they may develop the current role that they are applying for. This will help demonstrate their true understanding of the role, the priorities and whether they have really considered it fully.
More specific questions, particularly regarding the technical areas or case study type questions, need to be formulated according to your specific job on offer. However, there are some other good general questions to ask of any candidate at interview. Some of these are listed below.
Make sure the questions are open questions that will allow you to drill deeper to get a meaningful answer, for example, what was…?, why did that happen…?, who else was involved…?, etc. Keep the conversation flowing to get a full picture of the candidate.
What motivates you?
You are looking for an honest, well-thought-out answer
Where does your boss think you are now?
This is assessing character and whether the candidate will be a good fit for your organisation.
Tell me about a situation where you had to use your own initiative?
This is a competency question asking for examples of situations they have come across at work. Competency-based questions are ideal for getting a true picture of the candidate at work and you should use them frequently during the interview.
If I asked your manager to tell me about you, the good and the bad, what would he or she say?
This is similar to the commonly-asked, “what are your strengths and weaknesses” question.
They say that most CVs have at least one fib in them, what’s yours?
This will put them on the spot and it will be interesting to see how they deal with it. Obviously, you are looking for someone you can trust!
What achievement at work are you most proud of?
A good question to judge their greatest achievement against your requirements.
Name one skill you possess that makes you the most qualified for this position?
This will show how well they understand your job role and how they have equated their skills in line with your requirements.
Tell me about an occasion at work when you overcame a challenge?
A competency question to assess how they respond to difficult situations and what they have done in their previous job that may match your requirements.
Tell me about your ideal manager and how this fits with your preferred style of working?
Here they will either be truthful or will try and second guess you as a manager. Don’t give them any hints on this beforehand so they are more likely to tell the truth, which is most important.
Describe to me what your ideal work environment would be?
Similar to the above. Ask this before you give away too much information so you can see if their preferences fit with your environment.
Why are you looking to leave your current employment?
A predictable but important question. Does their answer fit well with your expectations?
Name a skill that you are looking to improve and what is your plan for improving it?
We all have areas that could do with improving, so not giving an answer is not really acceptable. It is more about what they would do or better still are doing to address the improvement required.
Why do you find this position exciting?
You want to see some real passion and enthusiasm for the post. A spark within them. Everyone should be capable of providing this whatever the role.
What do you value most about our company?
Ask this towards the end of the interview when they have a better picture of everything. Assess whether what is important to them fits with your culture.
We hope that you find these examples useful to help you develop your interviewing style.
Contact Outsourcing HR for advice on your interview process
Outsourcing HR has extensive experience of helping companies interview and select great recruits. To see how we can help you, simply call 07894-546333 or email Margaret Keane.