The point of interviewing candidates is to get to ask specific questions that will allow the recruiter to know them better and truly see if they are the right fit for the position they are applying for. The problem is, most candidates, with a minimum of of preparation, will have a chance to look up common questions and prepare for them. While this is completely normal and not a bad thing, the danger is that you will most likely get a lot of similar answers that won’t necessarily truly reflect their real personality and motives. If you want to really make sure you hire the right candidate, here are a few questions you, as an employer, can ask your candidates that will help you pick the best fit.
What would you consider to be your biggest professional mistake till this day? How did you deal with it?
Candidates love to talk about their strengths, what they did well and how they can contribute to their company’s success. What is not always easy is talking about our failures and mistakes. Do not simply ask “Talk about a time when you were under pressure and had to get the job done” because it gives your candidate the chance to look like the hero who saved the day. Instead, ask about a situation when they have failed to deliver, sent an email by mistake, did not meet an important deadline or caused the company to lose a client. This is what will allow you to see what they are really made of. It is important for employees to own up to their mistakes and find ways to get back up after a failure. Knowing how they do so will reveal their character and let you know if they are people you can truly count on.
Describe a situation where your boss/supervisor really pissed you off. How did you deal with it?
Let’s face it: the work place is not always a place with rainbows and unicorns. Your employees will have to manage conflicts. Asking the question so boldly will give you a better idea of their personality: Do they handle conflict well? How are they when it comes to working in team or respecting authority?Because at the end of the day, this is what really matters. Not the times they got along with everybody.
How would your current boss or a team member describe you? What would he/she say are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
Challenge your candidate to take a step back and talk about how his colleagues see him/her. This will allow them to give more honest answers than when they talk about their own strengths and abilities. It is also a great way for them to acknowledge weaknesses that they would not have the courage to admit if the question had been “Can you talk about your weaknesses?” When they try to look at themselves through their colleagues and bosses’ lenses, it will allow them to remember certain comments they have received through evaluations and more.
What do you think you won’t like about this job?
It is easy for a candidate to say why he/she wants to work for you: Experience, Company values and more. However, there are also things that your future employee won’t like about the company and it does not always require them a few months in to have an idea of what these things are. Employees talk and share their experiences with one another. Your candidate probably heard about that supervisor who is so difficult to work with or heard that employees often need to work overtime to get the job done at your company. Do not be afraid to ask your candidate if there is something in particular that he/she is not looking forward to. Remember asking this question is not to learn about the gossip but to have a better idea of the image candidates have of your company and how, you, as an employer can make it better.
Besides acquiring experience, what is the main reason you want this job?
Every candidate is looking for “experience”. Asking them why they want the job is not challenging enough of you truly want to get to know them and their motives better. By asking why they want the job besides experience, you open the door for them to share their personal story. Some candidates might have dreamed from a young age of working for the company, some might simply be looking for a job to feed their family and some might still be trying to figure out what they truly want in life.
Ann-Sophie Ovile, Writer, Short Stints