Top Five Most Effective Interview Questions

July 6th, 2012

You have an available position and a long list of candidates you’ve decided to call in for initial interviews. Each meeting will go on for about thirty minutes, and during that time, you’ll need to gather sufficient detail about each applicant to fairly and accurately assess their readiness for the job. You’ll need to make sure your questions are open-ended so the candidates can elaborate on their answers, and you’ll need to make sure each question is as useful as possible. What should you ask? What exactly do you need to know? Here are five questions that can keep the conversation interesting, revealing and relevant.

1.    “Tell me about your most recent position.”
This one is indispensible. The best way to find out what a candidate can do is to ask what she’s doing already. Glean how she feels about this work, how she got into it, and what she thinks of the business model in general.

2.    “Why did you choose to apply for a job with us?”
Ask this one only after you’ve outlined the role and given a basic explanation of what your company/department does every day. If you ask before explaining, she’ll just look for a way around the obvious answer: She needs work. You posted the ad. Voila.

3.    “Where would you like to be in five years?”
This is a vital question that will reveal how ambitious she is, but more important, it will help you find out if your company will be able to give her what she wants. If not, this may be a bad match.

4.    “In this position, you’ll probably need to… How comfortable are you with that?”
Fill in the blank with the most challenging, icky, controversial, demeaning, or boring daily aspect of this position. The candidate should know about it upfront, and you’ll need to gauge his reaction. Does he enthusiastically embrace this aspect? Does he haltingly claim he’ll be okay with it? Is he surprised to hear about it?

5.    “I’ve noticed that in your “additional information” section, you say that you’re (well-traveled/ a violinist/ a black belt in karate/ fluent in four languages). That’s neat! Tell me more.”
This is the best way to wrap up the interview and let the candidate talk about his life and his personality. Listen for any cues that indicate how well he’ll adapt to your company culture.

Make sure that you screen candidates effectively for a precise fit. [Personnel Services Unlimited] can help save you time by hiring the right applicant.

Five Non-Traditional Interview Questions that Help Select the Best Candidates

May 18th, 2012

On the surface, the interview process can seem like a polite, straightforward conversation in which a manager gains a sense of a candidate’s abilities and the candidate gains greater insight into a position before making the decision to join a company. But in reality, the interview can be a complex exchange with high stakes on both sides. Hiring is expensive; managers want to make sure they’re making the most informed choice between all of the final contenders. And applicants want to find out all they can about the nature of the workplace, the position, and the company before they sign on for a long term commitment. In both cases, volumes of vital information need to be exchanged before either party can confidently move forward, and all of this usually happens during the course of one or two thirty minute sessions.

How can your managers make the most of this brief opportunity? A successful interview starts with a list of meaningful and appropriate questions. There are no substitutes for standard, indispensable questions like the following:

Tell me about your last position.
Now that we’ve spoken about the nature of the company and this job, how do you think your skills and background will contribute to our success?
What are your long term professional goals?

It’s important for a manager to inquire clearly and directly into these three areas. But once these issues have been addressed, a few non-traditional questions can help the manager understand the applicant on a personal level. Unexpected questions can test an applicant’s wit and candor, and may reveal her ability to think critically and articulate her insights. Try these five questions to gain a more complex picture of interviewees:

Have you ever failed to meet a goal or deadline while working with a team? If so, what happened and what did you learn?

Describe your worst interpersonal conflict in the workplace. How did you work to overcome this challenge?

This job may involve (insert the most challenging or unpleasant aspect of the position at hand). How do you see yourself handling this?

Have you ever faced a situation in which your supervisor expected something from you that conflicted with the best interests of the company? How did you respond?

Describe your proudest professional moment.

Remember that non-traditional interview questions should always stay professional and relevant. Never ask silly questions that may insult the candidate or undermine her impression of your company, and never bait candidates, ask trick questions, or expect them to grovel for the job. But within these limits, feel free to exercise your creativity. For help and inspiration, contact the experts at PSU.

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