Interviewing is an art. An accomplished interviewer uses a variety of questions and topics to uncover information that is critical to their hiring decision. While there are literally thousands of questions that could be asked of a candidate, there are a few that are common, such as, “Tell me about yourself?”, or “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”, and “Why do you want this job?”
Today candidates can find a list of these questions on the internet along with suggestions on how to answer them. Because these questions are so common, and the answers so easy to prepare for, I find it important to identify a few questions they are not prepared to answer, and that require the candidate to “think on their feet” and share the immediate reactions. This information tends to be genuine and allows the interviewer to gauge how accomplished a candidate is at handling the unexpected. Here are three that I like to use.
What are the top three accomplishments in your career?
History is the best indicator of future performance. This question also leads to a variety of other questions, such as, “What do you think contributed to that accomplishment?” The candidate will not only share an overview of a time when they felt most successful but will most often share how they contributed to the success, including if they are a leader, follower, team player, collaborator and more. If the candidate is just starting their career, you can change this question to, “What are the top three accomplishments in your life?”
Why do you think you are a good fit for this position?
A potential employer can learn from their candidate what they know about the position and what it takes to succeed, while learning the perceived strengths and abilities of the candidate. This is the question that will help the employer uncover the value this candidate might bring to the organization.
What are 5 most important goals for you to reach in your career?
In answering this question, the candidate reveals what motivates them (money, title, team, security), their plans for career advancement, their willingness to be a short or long term employee (turnover is expensive), and their ambition (often an indicator of hard work and competitive spirit.) The employer can often determine how this candidate might fit into their organizational development plans, and will help the employer design an offer that will get an acceptance from the best candidate(s).
Looking for some bonus information? Here is a question that I think is simple and easy for the candidate to answer, but often results in a surprising amount of information regarding the candidate and their attitude including, whether they have a generally positive outlook and, “Is their glass half empty or half full?” Remember, attitude is everything!
Bonus: If you could give your past employer advice what would it be?
Candidates often have a strong feeling about the work environment, mission, vision, or performance of a past employer. It is a great opportunity to get feedback at an emotional level and gives the employer an opportunity to identify attitude traits.
If you are an employer, prepare your questions in advance. Know what information you want to gain from each question. Craft the questions to meet your needs.
If you are a candidate, remember that you can never be too prepared. Do your homework. Review sample questions on the internet and prepare your answers. Research the company to learn more about their mission, vision, and values. Practice your interviewing skills. Be sure to have a few questions of your own that you want to be answered.
Recruiting and job searching is challenging. Be prepared for the process to take as long as it takes. Do not rush to judgment. Your future depends on it.
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