Employment interview questions: tips and suggestions

KingConsulting - HR Consultants Sydney

How better interview questions provide much better insights in 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 about 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 the interview.

He explained that 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 with some vague questions rather than directed to the specifics of the role he was applying for.

One question I recall him relaying 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 also a very open and shut question not directed to anything specific. It is a yes or no question.

Prepare a set of probing and relevant questions 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.

Below is a list of Frequently Asked 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 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:

Listen to the answers and you will find out exactly what type of person you are interviewing, what motivates them, what they feel good about, what they enjoy and don’t. You will learn a lot about the person as much by what they don’t say as what they do. You will learn what they are good at and what they can bring to your organisation and role and if they are a good fit to your team and manager.

In Conclusion:

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. Their answer is going to be much more informative than simple yes or no questions. In being prepared with a set of questions that lead the candidate to be open and honest in their answers you will learn much more about them. 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 like this article you will find hiring-strategies-best-fit helpful too. If you are looking for work and want to learn how to get an interview you will enjoy this article. This is also a good post from inc.com with a few interesting ideas and points of view.

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