When it comes to hiring the right person for an open position, the job interview is just as important, if not more important than sourcing the right candidate. Preparation is key for both the interviewer and interviewee. And the questions you ask can either secure the right person or waste time.
The job interview is not only the legal process of completing a task list of job requirements, it’s also a conversation. It’s a chance to determine whether an applicant is a cultural fit for the position, your team, and your firm in general. However, it’s up to you to ask the right questions within the job interview to make absolutely certain that you’re hiring the right person.
You’ve probably got a list of the best questions to ask during an interview. But, do you fully understand WHY you’re asking those questions? Today we walk through 4 typical interview questions along with the reasoning behind each question that you can immediately put to work in your next conversation with a potential employee.
1. An Obvious Interview Question: Tell Me About Yourself
An obvious question, yes; but the open-ended nature of “tell me about yourself” is an important question to ask all candidates if they reach the interview table.
Why are you asking? This is a candidate’s first opportunity to tell you why they are the perfect fit for the job. The way they respond to this question will typically set the tone for the rest of the interview. Ideally, the candidate will share a little bit about how they came to apply for the position. In addition to their actual work experience, they should share some of their personal interests and experiences that may align with the work, favorite hobbies, educational background, as well as what motivates them.
2. What Quality or Skill Makes You the Most Qualified for This Position?
Assuming the first question went well, chances are that you’re already seeing a cultural fit with the candidate. However, your job as the hiring manager is to ensure that a candidate possesses all of the qualifications of the position that you’re interviewing for. Therefore, don’t get lost in a candidate’s “likability.”
Why are you asking? This particular question is similar to asking “why should we hire you?” You are specifically interested in what the candidate believes are his or her core competencies, as well as if you and the candidate have the same understanding of what the position entails.
If the candidate proudly shares a skill that is completely irrelevant to the job he or she is interviewing for, you may need to refocus the interview questions or clarify the positions.
3. What Professional Achievement are You Most Proud of?
Said another way – what is your greatest strength? We find that if you ask specifically about professional achievements, the candidate is more likely to describe an actual event or project rather than describe a trait in general terms.
Why are you asking? This is another question on a mission to determine how well qualified a candidate is for the position, as well as to determine if their strengths will align with the needs of the current team.
Whether it was an award, certification, or net profit gain on a recent project, typically, interview candidates are well-prepared to answer this question and come armed and ready to wow you with their most recent achievements. What they share is important as it will tell you how qualified they are, but how they share their story is equally important as it will demonstrate cultural fit.
This question also offers the candidate a chance to expand on something he or she feels good about—which can calm nerves and boost confidence as you continue into the rest of the interview.
4. Tell Me About a Time When You Overcame a Challenge
Rather than ask a candidate about their “greatest” weakness during the interview, try asking about a time when he or she overcame a specific challenge.
Why are you asking? Asking a behavioral interview question forces candidates to recount a specific experience versus hiding behind generic terminology. No one wants to hear a canned response that turns an otherwise weak quality into a positive (we’re looking at you Mr. Perfectionist).
Starting a new job is a challenge in and unto itself. However, every new employee will eventually become an established employee and come upon some roadblocks. Whether it’s a conflict with their team, managing a difficult customer or taking over a failing project, it will happen. The best way to determine how a candidate will tackle future challenges is to look at how they’ve historically dealt with difficult circumstances.
The Best Interviews Start with Strong Online ATS for Small Business Recruiting
We’ll discuss more common questions and the WHY behind them in a future article, so stay tuned. Until then, take a step back and consider how you’re sourcing and tracking your applicants.
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