Five interview questions to ask a job candidate when you next recruit

Job applicants

A job interview is an exciting time and should be viewed as such. Too many employers and candidates alike dread having to interview and recruit for a new role but really it’s an exciting time to bring a new skills set and personality into your business.

Here are a few questions to ensure you get the most out of your candidate when you’re next recruiting.

1. Tell us a little about yourself

Beginning with an easy to answer, seemingly unrelated question builds rapport with your candidate, making them feel more comfortable and likely more open. This will give you a clearer picture of their true personality and ultimate fit within your team.

2. If you were hiring someone for this position, what would you look for?

This is not a common interview question. When a candidate is asked a question they are not expecting, their answers tend to be less rehearsed and more candid. How well does the candidate understand the role or the business in general?

3. Describe the things that frustrate you and how you deal with them?

Conflict is not a bad word; and it is inevitable in an environment – such as a workplace – that combines people with different backgrounds and personalities. Answers to this question speak to an individual’s ability to problem solve and how they fit in with your organisation’s philosophies around conflict.

4. What are three positive things your last boss would say about you?

Don’t ask candidates to list their strengths and weaknesses. They expect this question and they have prepared for it. Catch them off guard and ask them instead what others would say their strengths and weaknesses are. The answers may be quite different. Following an interview, a seasoned recruiter will conduct reference checks with that last boss to compare.

5. What role do you usually take in a team setting?

Your whole establishment is a team. This question is a great way to help you anticipate how a potential candidate will contribute to their immediate team and your business in general. This question can elicit a variety of answers. Their answer may speak to their motivation or their personality. It may shine light on a candidate’s level of autonomy, or potential for moving up in the future

Recruiting is an essential task for any business and so planning your interview with structured questions will help you make the time you have with your candidates count.

Saxon Marsden-Huggins is the managing director of Recruit Shop, which offers recruitment services to small businesses in Australia and New Zealand.

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rossclennett
rossclennett
5 years ago

I disagree that these five questions be asked in the format suggested.

1. Tell us a little about yourself?
This is a very general question that could have the interviewee go anywhere with the answer. If you want to ask a relatively easy rapport building question then instead ask a more relevant and specific question such as ‘Tell me why you applied for this job’.

2. If you were hiring someone for this position, what would you look for?
How is this question relevant? What competency or motivation is this question assessing? The author explains his reasons thus ‘How well does the candidate understand the role or the business in general?’. Isn’t it the job of the interviewer to provide this information? How can an interviewee, with just a job ad and a Google search, be expected to provide any sort of accurate answer? I have never heard of this question being used and I would not recommend it.

3. Describe the things that frustrate you and how you deal with them?
This is a very general question and not work-specific. I would recommend a work-specific and evidence-seeking question such as ‘Tell me about the aspect of your current/most recent job that you found frustrating, why it was frustrating and what you did about your frustration’

4. What are three positive things your last boss would say about you?
The question is asking the interviewee to speculate. What if their boss had said one thing to their face and another in response to a reference check call? A far more effective question is ‘Tell me about the most recent performance feedback you received from your boss? Do you agree with this feedback? Why or Why not? What did you do differently, if anything, as a result of this feedback?

5. What role do you usually take in a team setting?
“Team setting’ what does this mean? It will mean different things to different people. Again, this is a very general question where the actual competency you are seeking to assess is vague. A far more effective question is ‘Describe the way in which you contributed at a recent team meeting’ or ‘Tell me about the most recent feedback you received about your interaction with your work colleagues’ or ‘Tell me about a time recently when you worked effectively with one of your work colleagues’.

After 27 years of recruitment experience, having interviewed over 3000 people, read many articles and books on the subject and having authored over 40 articles on interviewing and candidate assessment, I can say with confidence that the key to an effective interview is asking relevant, specific, evidence-seeking questions about work performance and motivation. The five questions, above, fall short of this criteria.