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Are you asking these key questions in your interview?

Eve Davies-Greenwald Nov 13, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Everyone has a different interview style but when you break the process down, are there any best practices to use? If you want to make your interview process as fair and effective as possible, there are a few things you can do. A good interview should also be consistent and be based on a structure. When everyone is asked basically the same questions, under the same conditions, it’s much easier to make fair comparisons between candidates. A few job-specific interview questions can be used as well, but for comparative efforts, base this on the same questions whenever possible.

Some examples of structured interview questions that can reveal the quality and goals of candidates include:

  • Can you tell me something interesting about you that others may be surprised to hear?
  • What interests you the most about this position?...the company?
  • Explain a time when you overcame a difficulty relating to a colleague?
  • Describe an ideal position for you if you could create a brand new job?
  • How would you explain your overall work style?

After the first round, the candidate responses can be used to choose the top three candidates to be invited for interviews with the department manager and several colleagues. This is where things get more specific and focused on if a candidate is a good fit for the team.

Is there a style or format of questioning that is most useful to an interviewer?

Outside of the structured interview, questions that are job-specific can determine if a candidate will be successful in the role. According to Scott Zakrajsek who contributes to Recruiter.com, “My best interview questions are actual business problems that we are currently facing.This allows me to experience their thought process in real time – and who knows, you may even get a couple good ideas in the process.”

In this part of the interview it is a good idea to reference the job description and create at least a dozen or so interview questions around the job and the industry. These can be analytical, situational, or just general. For example, if you are hiring a financial analyst, ask how the current stock market conditions are impacting the cost of transportation of goods produced by the company. Or you could ask the candidate about his or her familiarity with certain laws or regulations as it applies to the company.    

Read more: When it comes to finding the right candidate, go beyond the resume

Examples of great job-relevant questions are:

  • If you have a budget of 20% growth for your sales team and you exceed it by 8%, what should you do with the extra earnings?
  • Your office lease is coming up for renewal. Do you renew at the increased rental rate of 10% or do you look for another office?
  • Can you explain the importance of good customer service and what it can do for a business?
  • Where would you like to see yourself in this industry in the next 2 years? Why?

What range of questions should you try to include in your interview and on what topics?

In any job interview, there should be a good mix of job-specific questions, along with situational and behavioral questions. However, avoid the questions that are not relevant to what the candidate may expect in the job.

Too many companies tend to use interview questions that are unusual or seem to have nothing to do with the job or the company. It has been popular for companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft and others to ask questions that are meant to narrow down candidates for their highly-coveted jobs. But there is little evidence that answering interview questions like these predict the success of a candidate. While some require analytical thinking, they are meant more as ice-breakers and a chance to learn more about the personal side of the candidate.

Pro-Tip: See how 500 other companies approach interviews in the 2018 McQuaig Global Talent Report

Here are some real examples of unusual interview questions used by companies today:

  • Do you believe in Bigfoot?
  • If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?
  • If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?
  • You're a new addition to the crayon box, what color would you be and why?

Effective interviewing gives the hiring manager a better view of the candidate. From job skills to personality, it’s critical to choose the right candidate for the position. Of the three main types of interview questions used (situational, behavioral, personal) some give better data than others to base a final hiring decision on. Overall, these style of interview questions make the most sense when they are used to determine:

  • Situational - To learn more about the job related skills and experience of a candidate.
  • Behavioral - To find out how the candidate relates to others, including customers.
  • Personal - To confirm the personality or skills of the candidate are a good fit.

Interviewing candidates can be productive when a good mix of the above questions are used. Focus on the job and the team goals when interviewing candidates to develop interview questions that are more relevant and reveal the data points needed to reach a decision.

Go beyond questions

While having the right mix of questions is important, it's also good to remember that there are other effective methods of gathering information during an interview. Using assessments, asking candidates to complete in-person tasks, checking references, or asking for work samples are other good ways of uncovering insights you might not get from questions alone. The time you have with a candidate is limited so make the most of it by using a variety of tools to see if someone is the right hire for you.

Do you have any key questions you always use in an interview? Let us know below.

Topics: Interviewing, Hiring Strategies

Eve Davies-Greenwald

Written by Eve Davies-Greenwald

Marketing Manager