Before thinking about what to ask an interviewee, you’ll need to define who you are looking for and what the job requirements are. If you need someone who can work towards tight deadlines and handle a fast-paced environment, you should ask questions that reveal whether they are capable of that or not.
Look out for generic or lazy answers. For example, most people know they’d probably be asked about their weaknesses. A candidate may say, “I’m a perfectionist” or “I try too hard”, and while they may be ‘prepared’ it doesn’t actually reveal anything about their self-awareness or motivation to develop.
1. What do you know about our company and what attracted you to apply?
Someone who came in prepared to answer this question will likely be sincerely interested in both the job and your company. Have they considered why they’re a good fit for your company? You want to find out whether the candidate has had a look at your company’s values and whether theirs align. You don’t want to hire someone who simply wants the job for the sake of it and later leaves you for something as small as slightly a higher paycheck.
2. Can you tell me about your current job?
Gain insights about their background that isn’t covered on their resume. This also gives you a demonstration of their communication skills.
3. Describe your ideal working environment
This simple question allows you to gauge if the candidate will be a good culture fit and if they will thrive in their new environment. It may also reveal their working style and management preferences.
4. Name a work accomplishment that makes you proud
This is arguably a better question than asking “what are your strengths?” because it requires the candidate to use real examples and can calm their nerves because they’re discussing something they probably enjoy talking about.
You also have the opportunity to dive deeper to see if their story has any substance or if they’re simply just trying to impress you. Ask questions such as, “how was your performance measured?” and “how long did the project take to complete compared to how long you expected it to take?”
Alternatively, you could ask the candidate to tell you about their biggest success story regarding [x skill] if you want to gauge the level of how well they use it.
5. What is an area you’ve had to work on to improve your career?
Can the interviewee overcome obstacles, or do they simply avoid them? Have they spoken about some skills they may not have mentioned on their resume?
You’ll be able to find out whether the candidate can demonstrate self-awareness and their desire for personal development. This can give you comfort in knowing that they are open to improving upon any weaknesses.
6. If there was something in your past role you could go back and do differently, what would it be?
What critical thinking skills does this person possess? Can this person self-reflect and learn from past experiences? Will they make the same mistakes over and over without finding ways to do better? If the candidate can’t find ways to learn, how long will it take for them to get on their feet in the new role?
7. Can you tell me about a time when you had a disagreement with a manager or colleague and how you handled the situation?
How does the candidate frame this answer? Negativity or complaining can be a red flag. Do they discuss a way they found a solution or common ground? You may also discover how candidates work with other people and what sort of relationships they build with their colleagues.
It may also reveal why the candidate has chosen to leave their current role.
8. What steps do you take when making decisions?
Can the candidate work autonomously, or do they need someone to hold their hand and give them direction? Evaluate the candidate’s critical thinking skills and their decision-making process.
9. Why are you leaving your current job?
Does your company offer benefits that cater to what the candidate is after? For example, if the candidate is leaving because they want more flexibility than their current employer can offer, let them know that your company does (if applicable).
Look out for positive answers such as, “I’m looking for a new challenge” or “I want more responsibilities”.
You can also find out why their current employer has not fought or has failed to retain them. Ask questions such as, “how have you tried to negotiate these aspects with your employer?”. You may find that the employer is not interested in keeping them depending on their reasons.
Does the candidate just end up complaining? I think you’d agree that this is a red flag.
10. If we/I called your references, how would they describe you?
This is another great question to see what sort of relationships the candidate builds and how they work with their colleagues and managers. They might also be less inclined to tell a lie if they know you’ll call their references.
11. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Someone who has goals is intrinsically motivated. They will want to grow, learn, and develop. They’ll also be engaged in their professional career and therefore be a high performer. These motivations can’t easily be found in someone’s resume which is why it’s one of the best interview questions to ask employees.
Here, you also have the chance to explain how your company can help them achieve their goals.
12. Is there anything you think I need to know that we haven’t discussed?
This is one of the most interesting interview questions to ask employees. As mentioned earlier, asking a candidate to talk about something they enjoy can make them feel less nervous and showcase their communication skills. If someone can’t clearly talk about something they thoroughly understand, they may have trouble communicating with others about tasks and goals that need to be achieved.
This answer gets the candidate talking about some of their other strengths, skills, and motivations that you might not have considered or found in their resume, cover letter or LinkedIn profiles.
13. Do you have any questions for me?
Hiring a new employee is the beginning of a mutual relationship. Allow the candidate to ask questions that will help determine if this new role is right for them. You may not have asked all the questions that allow them to do that.
This will also highlight candidates who are prepared. The types of questions they ask will help you determine how interested in the role they are and their motivations are.
Here you can showcase the benefits your company offers that align with the candidates wants and needs. For example, a candidate may about the training and onboarding process. After outlining the process, you can also explain that your company offers further development where the candidate can obtain specialised certifications that are fully subsidised by your company.
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