Hiring questions

You’ve shortlisted your “best” applicants and invited them to interview. How can you ensure you get the most out of your candidate interviews with questions that determine their cultural fit, personality and work style without receiving canned, shallow, over-prepared or over-utilised standard responses?

Throughout the interview process, both the candidates and the hirers should be working to sell themselves/their organisation to determine whether they are a good match for each other. A successful interview should determine whether a candidate is qualified for the position, would make a good fit for the work culture and possesses the right skills to meet the company’s needs.

A candidate serious about their application will take the time to prepare themselves as best as possible for their interview. After all it may be a 30-90 minute conversation where a lot of information needs to be exchanged. It is only natural that the candidate will try to anticipate questions they may be asked and practice their answers to demonstrate their suitability for the role. However just because a candidate is good at interviewing doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best choice to hire.

Try adding in some think-on-the-spot questions which should elicit honest and truthful answers, gaining insights into their thought process:

“Why shouldn’t I hire you?”

Makes the candidates reflect on where they may be lacking in certain skills. This can demonstrate their level of self-awareness, that they recognise areas they may need some support and training in.

“How do you like to be managed?”

Managers and employees may have vastly different working styles and sets of communication skills. By asking to elaborate on their preferred management style, you can see how your candidate might work with their manager or team and if they would make a cohesive fit.

“When have you had a disagreement at work, and how did you handle it?”

Not everyone sees eye-to-eye all of the time. Understanding how your candidate reacts to and resolves situations where they might not get their way is crucial to seeing how they’ll fit in to your team/working culture.

“What are some trends currently happening in the industry?”

This simple question can check how tuned in your candidate is. Whether you’re looking for a thought leader or someone with a basic understanding of how your industry functions, it should demonstrate how up to speed and interested they are, and whether they are likely to be an ideas generator/able to challenge processes to suggest improvements or spot potential issues.

“What are your hobbies or interests outside of work?”

Spend a few moments to explore what motivates your candidate outside of the workplace to get a greater sense of their personality, interests and how their outside pursuits might fit in with your work culture. Today’s candidates — especially millennials and Generation Z – place a premium on work-life balance and might be more tempted to accept an offer from an employer that shows it recognises and values this also.

“What could your current employer offer you in order to stay with them?”

Employees don’t always leave positions because they’re unhappy in their role. Understand their motivation(s) to want to make a move and whether you can meet their needs, or not.

“Where else are you interviewing, and what appeals to you about those roles?”

There’s nothing worse than when a great candidate slips through your fingers and accepts a role elsewhere, particularly if it was for a particular reason that you were in a position to offer them. You can potentially gauge how motivated they are to make a move, and how in demand they are.

“What questions do you have for me?”

Give your candidate a chance to ask you questions. It helps them understand fully the role and its fit into the team/company as well as your expectations of them, which will help avoid potential issues further down the line.

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