We believe that one of the most difficult, yet most important elements of any business is the hiring process. You need to be very good at hearing what isn’t being said, as Peter Drucker says. The message is simple … some people are better than other people. More importantly, some people are a heck of a lot better than other people. So it is crucial you know the most effective interview questions to uncover the candidate qualities you are most looking for.
Check out our thoughts on team leverage.
The most important thing in communications is to hear what isn’t being said.
Can you remember the most unusual interview question you ever received? We would love to hear it. Please share in in the comments section below.
During the hiring process you really must take into consideration many candidate behaviors, attitudes and strengths. Even the person who is talented, sometimes they don’t have the right personality and team chemistry to add to your team. So you need to discover those also.
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In any job interview, it can be hard to get past stock responses and gain real insight into a candidate. But if you think of oddball queries you can find opportunities to demonstrate their thought process, to communicate their values and character, and to show the prospective employer how they perform under pressure. Often the best questions are those that ask how they behaved in the past because past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.
Related post: Leadership Characteristics that Improve Influence
We will use the following 10 behaviors, attitudes and strengths that we are looking to hire in our client businesses and show you what interview questions work best in our experience to uncover these qualities.
Interview questions … best lead in questions
Can you tell me about yourself?
This is always a good introductory question. Ask and then don’t say another thing until they are done. What they actually say is not critical, but how they answer this question is.
Do they focus on personal or professional details? How do they see themselves? Does this view fit into the culture of the company?
What circumstance brings you here today?
This is one of the best opening interview questions ever in our opinion. This open ended question surprises many candidates. If they do not respond quickly, just sit quietly and wait for the response. Some candidates reveal problems with their current employer, potential insubordination, and both positive or negative character traits.
Why do you want to work for our company/organization?
Not having an answer is a good way to cross off the candidate, and is a common pet peeve of interviewers.
How Would You Solve. . .
Test them. In a professional setting, these are typically hypothetical judgment situations or ones that have actually occurred at the company. They should demonstrate job-specific problem solving skills.
Don’t be afraid to ask them to solve problems they would face in the first month of their job at the actual interview.
Interview questions for employers … different
What unique experience or qualifications separate you from other candidates?
Some candidates have interesting characteristics and experiences that will not be exposed without asking a question like this.
How would a previous job team member describe you?
In most cases, the response to this question indicates how the candidate wants you to feel they are perceived by team members and friends. Take notes on the response and then ask, “May I call your best friend and see how they describe you?” You may or may not be interested in talking them. However, the response and body language after the follow-up question can indicate if you received a truthful response. Asking this question near the beginning of the interview helps you get truthful responses for the rest of your time with the candidate.
Tell me about your crowning achievement.
That question not only tells you what energizes the applicant, but also helps you figure out if their interests and passions align with yours.
What was a major obstacle you were able to overcome in the past year?
Problem solving is the major topic covered by this question. What kind of thinker is this candidate? What do they tell you about change? Can they do projects on their own or does their manager need to hold their hand. It also confirms how determined they can be toward a project.
Describe yourself in one word?
The best candidates are the ones who know exactly who they are. That’s why it’s good to ask candidates to describe themselves in just one word.
Don’t judge people on the word they choose, but consider the insight the answer gives into their creative spirit. Pay attention whether the candidates ponder the question to answer most thoughtfully.
Not afraid to fail
Tell me about your failures.
A good answer to this question is important because it means that the candidate isn’t afraid of taking risks and will admit when things don’t work out.
People always like to tell you about their successes, but they don’t always want to tell you what didn’t work out well.
How will you contribute to the company?
This will highlight their goals for the specific job and which of their skills would be most beneficial for the company. It also will tell you how they see themselves as part of a team. It will also give you insights into their ability to take initiatives.
Remember, their goals should match the company’s. When they deviate, employees leave.
Effective interview questions … passionate
What is your ideal job?
This question will help you determine whether or not the person is suitable for the open job.
It also reveals what their passions and strengths are.
Motivated by continuous learning
Tell me about two memorable projects, one success and one failure. To what do you attribute the success and failure?
Asking these questions helps determine the candidate’s ability to learn from successes and failures.
So if you could ask job candidates only one question, what would be most telling and effective in your opinion?
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he writes about topics that relate to improving the performance of business. Go to Amazon to obtain a copy of his latest book, Exploring New Age Marketing. It focuses on using the best examples to teach new age marketing … lots to learn. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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