06 Jul Employment interview questions: tips and suggestions
Better interview questions provide deeper insights about the way prospective candidates think during the hiring process
If you really want to improve your hiring process in your business get better at asking the right questions during the interview process. Prepare a relevant set of interview questions designed to ascertain what the interviewee’s thinking process is and what motivates them.
I have heard some silly interviews that are awkward and leave no one any wiser about the right fit of the individual to the role or organisation. A colleague of mine in England, shared with me a recent interview he attended for a senior Accounting role. The Head of Finance and HR Director interviewed him, so it was reasonable to believe they would know how to conduct a professional interview.
He told me he was surprised by the process and some of the questions asked. The interviewers were both late for the interview which was not a good start. They seemed unprepared and had no clear direction to the interview. For example: their questions were vague and unrelated to the role they had.
One question was: “do you know Excel”? Any senior Accounting and/or Finance professional is typically an advanced user of Excel, so the question seemed odd. It was a closed question therefore required only a yes or no answer. It was not elaborated on and did not inquire on any specific aspect of excel in relation to the role and his ability. Therefore, it was not clear what exactly they wanted to know.
Be prepared in advance:
Prepare a set of probing (open ended) questions relevant to the candidates ability to do the role. Have them ready in advance and make sure all interviewers have a set.
The questions you ask at an interview must be relevant to the role and directed to be specific while allowing for elaboration and drill down for more detail. Otherwise, they won’t inform you if this person can do the job and how well. Pick out specific, relevant aspects of their previous roles from their resume to ask questions about and drill down on.
Below is a list of Frequently Asked (FAQ) interview questions:
- Tell me a bit about yourself? (Nice but vague and how does that relate to the job?)
- What do you know about our company? (Depending on how the interview was organised, the interviewee might not have had time to look up anything before the interview.)
- Why are you leaving your current employer? (Depending on the circumstances they might not be leaving the current employer or have already left, and this is a tricky question which could lead the interview off track.)
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time? (Interesting, but what is the relevance to the current job or company and if the person can do the job?)
- What type of manager do you like? (This is open to misinterpretation and what will you really learn about the candidate?
- What type of manager are you? (This question is speculative, and self-opinion may not be reality)
- What do you know about our industry? (What is the relevance of this question and what does the answer provide the interviewer?)
- Who do you admire? (Nice question, but what is the relevance to the role and their fit?)
- Some people rehearse interviews and talk well but have no real substance to back up their talk. Others don’t interview well and struggle with these types of questions. When you ask a person what they are proud of though it tends to be honest and far more reliable.
Below is a list of Should be Asked (SAQ) interview questions:
- In your last role what achievement are you most proud of? (This question prompts a person to consider in detail and provide an answer which is typically honest. It is also easy to tell if the person is telling the truth, their body language will be more relaxed, and their eyes will light up as they recall their experience.)
- Walk me through the process of achievement? (Allows the candidate to recall their experience in detail and elaborate on it.)
- What influenced your process? (This will give you insights into the person, what they find beneficial and how they like to operate.)
- Who else was involved? (This answer should give some indication of their team involvement and whether they prefer to work alone.)
- Who did you report to? (Indicating their preferred manager and the style which draws out the best in the candidate.)
- Who reported in to you? (Usually this question will prompt an individual to share their preferred team structure and their own management style.)
- How did you make it all come together? (Gives you and indication of how this person thinks, how they plan and prioritise their work.)
- Where there any aspects of the process you did not enjoy? (Will provide you with insights into what the person enjoys most and not.)
- What did you enjoy most? (As above as well as providing you with more information on the personality, motivation and drive of the individual.)
- What makes you proud of this process? (The answer to this will provide much more detail on the individuals motivation and behaviour as well as what makes them tick.)
What you will learn about the candidate from the SAQ:
Listen to the answers and you will find out exactly what type of person you are interviewing:
- their motivations
- feel good about
- enjoy and don’t
- pay attention to what they don’t say
- what they are good at
- can bring to your organisation and role
- if they are a good fit to your team and manager
The types of interview questions you ask determine the success of the interview process. Ask specific well thought out questions which allow an individual to talk freely about an achievement they are proud of. Their answer is going to be much more informative than simple yes or no questions. Also, being prepared with a set of questions will put you in a professional mind set and able to stay on topic. Create questions that are open and lead the candidate to be more detailed and specific in their answers. You will learn much more about them as a person. Further, you will appear relaxed, organised and professional.
Don’t forget this is a two way process you want the candidate to want to work with you and your organisation if they are the right fit. If they can do the job and fit well in your team you want to leave them with a good impression. Even if they do not take your role they may refer someone equally as good to you.
If you would like to learn more read the following: