You’ve done the hard part. You’ve found candidates that look great on paper. You know the role is good. Your company is a great place to work.
Now is NOT the time to bore candidates to tears with ‘team player’ and ‘can-do attitude’ waffle or cliched ‘sell me this pen’ or ‘giraffe in a fridge’ questions!
An interview is a two-way street: the questions you ask reflect your values as a company and influence the material your candidates will give you to ensure you hire the right person for your business.
So, interviewers, here’s some ammunition to help you go beyond the basics:
- Tell me something that isn’t on your CV.
This pushes the candidate for an honest answer rather than the usual sporty-yet-trendy hobby or the latest soundbites from this year’s series of The Apprentice. The key is gaining an impression of what someone is like as a person, not a ‘candidate’, which is key to identifying a good character fit.
- If you had enough money to never work again, how would you spend your time?
In a similar vein to the first question, this delves into your candidate’s motivations, and explores what makes them tick. If they answer ‘lie on the sofa’ or ‘become a dictator’, it’s not a great sign! If they allude to volunteering, philanthropy or opening an animal sanctuary, it’s a good sign and gives you another opportunity to explore their interests and what motivates them.
- Why will you love this job?
Motivation is the key to success and longevity. All about the money is a big red flag, as is someone who does what they do just because they can do it. This is about the candidate’s ‘why’. Explore how and why the candidate believes in the purpose of what they do – and how far this aligns with what makes you tick as a business, which a good job advert will have already showcased.
- What’s the biggest setback you’ve experienced? How did you overcome it?
This question looks get past the temptation for a candidate to hide all their weaknesses or mistakes. This serves no benefit. The mark of a successful employee is how they learn from mistakes, and how they learn and grow. It will also give you an insight into someone’s character – their resolve and their commitment to the task/purpose/company when the going got tough. Your vacancy might need someone who can keep their cool when some might panic – or this is just a method to explore a candidate’s commitment and dedication.
- What do you think of our business. Why do you want to work for us?
This gives a candidate the chance to demonstrate the research they’ve done into your company, thus indicating how much they really want the job. You could even go a step further and ask what they would do to improve something about your company. Not only will this provide you with some external input, but you can see if they’re innovative in their approach to the role and aptitude for ideas.
- What three words would your friends use to describe you, and why?
This question helps to show you whether your candidate is self-aware, honest, and confident enough to be genuine. It gives you another insight into their personality, how they mix and get on with people, and, in turn, how they could fit in with your workplace culture.
- Who inspires you, either professionally or personally?
Aspirations are important, career-wise and as an individual. This question taps into your candidate’s motivations, what and who stands out to them, and why they respect certain qualities.
At the end of the interview, instead of presenting your candidate with the classic ‘any questions?’ statement, ask: “If we go on to offer you this job, is there any reason, at this point in time, why you might say ‘no’?’. This prompts a candidate to put a niggling doubt out into open, when you have the chance to reply. It also could reveal another forthcoming interview or job offer that’s in the pipeline. It opens the situation and helps you gain greater control ahead of potential job offer negotiations.
For more tips on how to ace an interview, have a look here.