Ah, hiring. Nothing is quite so daunting as finding the right person for the organization to invest in. In this aspect, it falls to the HR professional to be the diligent miner sifting through the sands for gold.
Sometimes, though, it feels more like a poker game with a lot of bluffing, guessing, and risk-taking involved. But this is where your skills come in. You can avoid hiring the wrong people simply by asking the right and best job interview questions. Because the right questions don’t just open up the right answers; they let you, as the interviewer, glimpse the character of your candidate so you can make a better assessment of their fitting. So we’ve come up with a list of interesting—and effective—questions to fire away at your unsuspecting candidates.
Great Interview Questions To Ask Applicants
1) "If compensation were not a factor, what would you be doing?"
This is an interesting one. Ideally, you ask this question at a more casual point during the interview, so that the candidate is as unguarded as possible. Because when you ask them what they’ll be doing with their life if they never needed to be compensated, you basically ask them what their core work ethic looks like.
Why do you work?
If they answer something along the lines of “I’ll be travelling” or “I’ll read a lot of books”, then chances are, these are candidates who haven’t really found work that matters a lot to them yet. It might also show you whether or not a candidate works for the compensation, rather than working to bring value to the world. (You’ll want candidates with the latter frame of mind, by the way.)
But if you chance upon a candidate with an answer that is more progressive and passionate than merely about going out there to experience the world, then you might have just struck gold.
2) "What are your views on…?"
This is another interesting question to give you a glimpse of the values of your candidates. Ask them to comment on multifaceted topics that have something to do with the role or what you’re looking for based on your company culture. For instance, if you’re looking for highly creative individuals, why not ask them what their views are on being uninspired? Or if you’re looking for people who can thrive in a high-pressure environment, ask them what their views are on stress and work-life balance. Since this is a rather open-ended question, how they angle their answers would reveal a lot about them, and how they might approach a situation.
See if their answers align with the kind of person you need.
3) “What’s your favorite [thing that is related to the role or industry]?"
“What’s your favorite typeface/tire model/business law/engine model?"
Trivial questions like these may seem too simplistic, but ask any truly passionate copywriter what their favorite tagline is, and you’ll get an entire dissertation about the nuances of language.
Asking your potential hire about their favorite work-related something reveals a lot about how invested they are in their role. It’s an opportunity for you to glimpse their passion, or for them to unintentionally reveal the opposite. After all, you would want your future law firm associate to know a thing or two about law.
Ineffective Questions to Ask During Interviews
Of course, if there are uniquely effective questions, there will always be terribly ineffective questions, and you might want to reconsider these queries if you don’t want to scare away a potentially stellar hire.
Here are two “bad questions” to not ask during an interview:
1) “What’s your salary history?"
Questions that are very prying and detailed about compensation should be left for the tail end of the hiring process, when it’s clear that you believe the applicant is fit. Because asking this question would give a smart candidate the impression that you’re not looking for quality hires, but for “budget” hires. It gives the impression that the organization is gauging their hiring based on candidates they can afford, rather than basing it on who would be best for the role.
Not a very great impression you want to give to someone who might be “the one”, don’t you think?
Certainly, it’s alright to open up the discussion of their expected salary, but consider wording it so that it’s not all about the money. Bring it up, but don’t focus on it. The smarter applicants will find a way to not answer that question anyway.
2) “Where do you see yourself five years from now?"
Another interesting interview question. So many HR professionals spend anywhere from five to ten minutes letting their candidates detail a future that, really, could have no basis whatsoever.
Certainly, this question could give the interviewer a glimpse of the candidates propensity to make plans, but not much else. Plans change all the time. Because these are all-too-common in interviews, future-oriented questions like these are anticipated and prepared-for by the smartest candidates, and the chances of you getting a lot out of their answers for this one are slim.
While questions during an interview can and certainly should vary depending on the needs of the role, with these question-asking insights in your belt, at least it should now feel less like a poker game.
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