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10 Questions to Consider Asking During a Candidate Interview

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Cathy Baylis. Her opinions are her own. 

Human Resources has changed drastically in the last decade due to the introduction of talent management software and recruitment process automation. However, the candidate interview still remains one of the most critical elements of the hiring process, giving you the perfect opportunity to see how a candidate thinks and behaves in real-life.

As the only chance to really meet the candidates face-to-face, interviews enable recruiters to make better decisions and avoid costly mistakes. This is important because a recent study showed that as much as 80% of employee turnover is the product of bad hiring decisions.

This suggests that you need to be very careful and prepare well for your conversations with potential employees. In this article, I am going to reveal 10 questions you might want to consider asking during a candidate interview.

Before the actual interview, you should research potential candidates as it can help you to customize your questions. However, there are still certain questions that you could ask on any occasion.

1. What motivated you to apply for this position?

According to the experts at the assignment writing agency, the first question that recruiters typically ask is: “Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?” It might be a good icebreaker but it’s nothing more than that, so you’ll soon have to start asking some more meaningful questions.

Consider asking your candidate about their motive(s) for applying to your specific position.

Always try to get a precise answer because it will give you valuable information about the applicant. Is money their main motivator? If yes, they could probably leave your company (or turn your offer down) as soon as they get offered better financial compensation somewhere else. Did they leave their previous position because of a personal conflicts? If yes, this could also become a problem in your team, too.

2. What are your greatest professional achievements?

When someone talks about their greatest professional achievement, it reveals a lot. Firstly, you will understand what your candidate means when they talk about professional achievements. Some people consider strong interpersonal relations to be their greatest success in business, while the others are result-driven and may emphasise this aspect of their careers.

You would probably want to find an in-between solution – someone who pays attention to the overall results but also tries to maintain positive relationships within the team. This is the only way to make sure that the person you hire will not jeopardize the business or the existing work environment.

3. What are your biggest professional failures?

All professionals enjoy their career success the most but they also learn the most important lessons from their failures. When you ask candidates to describe their professional defeats, you make them reveal weaknesses and become more vulnerable.

At the same time, you can delve deeper into their stories to discover what led them to make the mistake. Whatever the reason, it will tell you a lot about each one of the interviewees.

4. What would be your first steps on a new position?

Asking this question, you get to learn if your candidate is ambitious and self-confident or modest and careful. It also reveals the way the candidate has prepared for your interview. This is also the candidate’s chance to convince you that they possess an in-depth knowledge of this position.

5. What do you see as the future developments in this industry?

Whilst the previous question will help reveal if your candidate is ready to fulfil concrete duties on a new position, this particular question is supposed to show you the way that your potential new employee thinks about the industry in general.

This is very important if you are hiring someone who should perform a high-level position in your company. Senior managers have to know all details about the company but they should also be able to predict future trends and behave proactively in order to keep your company one step ahead of the competitors.

6. How would your current boss describe you?

Although you might think that this is a simple question which allows candidates to brag about themselves, it is actually a very indicative and revealing inquiry. When candidates describe what their current supervisors think about them, they give you the opportunity to analyze their relationship more closely.

This question also gives candidates an opportunity to score some bonus points easily. Instead of answering on their own, some candidates might even be able to provide written references made by their bosses.

7. What is your ideal work environment?

Some people prefer to work alone and they achieve the best results if you let them be creative and independent. Others need more instructions and function best in teams.

This question reveals whether the person in front of you is happy (or ready) to handle things on his/her own, and whether they can work in a team or under pressure.

8. Is there something that you would like to learn?

The business environment is changing constantly and you need professionals who are ready to stay up to date with the latest trends.

With this question, you will quickly assess if the candidate is willing to keep learning and what sort of training he or she considers to be the most important. You will also detect the area of expertise that this person believes is a potential weakness.

9. Looking back, would you change your college major?

I’ve seen many very successful professionals who didn’t enjoy their jobs at all and who slowly started losing interest in the profession, spending more time with their families or dedicating to their hobbies almost entirely.

This is not something that you would want to see happening to one of your employees. Asking the candidate if he or she would change their college major if that they could turn back time, you’re actually asking them if they are truly happy in their careers.

10. Would you consider yourself successful at this point in your career?

A confident applicant should be able to tell you what has made him or her successful. Asking about their overall career paths will inspire potential employees to analyze their achievements to date step-by-step, which also enables you as the recruiter to see if they are really suitable for the position.

If you notice that someone has been improving steadily throughout the career, chances are this person will continue to advance in your company as well. This is the opportunity you should not miss, so feel free to ask applicants to tell you about their careers and each position they held individually.

Cathy Baylis

After years of coaching professionals in the workplace, Cathy Baylis took early retirement and now shares her advice online. She writes on areas of personal and career development including leadership, motivation, productivity and career progression.

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