Every hiring director wants to find the question that will unleash a torrent of useful information from candidates, but finding that question is another matter. In the early 2000s, the trend was toward tricky questions that seemed more like Zen koans than interview conversations. Thankfully, these irrelevant questions are fading from fashion, but businesses still need a way to gauge the creativity and quick thinking capabilities of their candidates. Here are some of the most important questions you can ask potential new hires, grouped by question type.
Just the Facts
There’s nothing wrong with asking for facts that weren’t on a candidate’s resume. You already have vital information about the interviewee, but look a little deeper with fact-based queries that reveal more about areas of experience or education the resume might have touched on only briefly. Some possibilities include:
– How did you leave your last job?
– What was your favorite course in school?
– What do you consider your greatest professional success to date?
– How did you learn about this position?
– What is your managerial experience?
Setting up situational scenarios and asking potential employees how they would handle these events can give you a great deal of insight into candidates’ problem-solving skills and ingenuity. The best questions adapt to your specific industry, but these questions should give you some ideas to use as a starting point:
– You haven’t heard from your best customer in a month, and you notice she’s left a review of a competitor’s product on a crowd-sourced review site. How do you proceed?
– A vendor has unexpectedly caused delays in shipments, and you’re on your fourth customer call of the hour. Your customer is on the verge of canceling the order. What’s your solution?
– A revolutionary new tool or technique has just become available. Where do you go to learn more about it? How do you convince your company to invest in it?
– You’re now in charge of redesigning the company’s content strategy. What are your first steps?
Questions that delve into your candidates’ behavior in the past can be an excellent predictor of how they’ll handle similar situations in the future. Simple yes or no questions tell you little, and you’ve already established the relevant facts about the interviewee, so look for open-ended questions that allow the candidate to go into greater detail:
– Tell me about your greatest challenge at a previous job and what you did to overcome it.
– Describe the most important lesson you learned from a prior position and how you learned it.
– Talk about a time when you felt the most pressure at work and how you resolved it.
– Describe your best experience working with a team in the past; then describe your most challenging team experience.
– Tell me about the last time you oversaw a project from start to finish, whether at work or in your leisure time.
Knowing the right questions to ask is only part of a hiring director’s job. You also need to have some idea of the answer types you’re looking for, but don’t be too fixed in your expectations. Leave room for candidates to surprise you with insightful and innovative answers to your toughest questions.