Winging it, while admirable at times, is not something you should be doing in an interview. We all expect potential employees to come prepared, and as the person responsible for their hiring, you should too. Aside from doing your research on a candidate, via social media and their resumé, prepare a stock list of questions. If you ask each candidate the same ones, it’s easier to compare and find the best fit for the position.
These questions should address several different aspects of employment: personality, skill set, cultural fit, work habits and career trajectory fit.
What motivated you to apply for this position?
This can give you a window into what motivates them, and it can tell you how much homework they’ve done about your company.
What is your main motivation to get up and come to work every day?
The answer can give you a sense of their personality and whether or not your company’s culture and their motivations mesh well together.
How do you think your current skills can contribute?
You can not only discover how they view their own skill set, you can also, again, find out what they know about your company and how well they understand the position.
What is your ideal work environment?
If this is a person primarily comfortable working alone, for instance, they may not be a good fit for a teamwork situation. You might also ask what types of work environments they’ve experienced in the past and how they felt about them.
What does your ideal supervisor look like?
Or, alternatively, how was your relationship with past supervisors and why did/didn’t you get along? From this question, you can glean how they’ll relate to their supervisor and whether or not it matches up with your company.
What’s one example of how you solved a problem?
You can confine this to a problem at work or allow them to delve into their personal life for an example. The answer will give you sense of their ability and creativity in problem solving.
What is your greatest achievement at work?
This is more than an opportunity for the candidate to wow you with their successes; it can tell you what they value — what they view as a great achievement.
What types of professional development do you engage in?
You can find out whether or not they are proactive about seeking continuing education or if it’s something they do only out of obligation.
What is one time you made a mistake at work? How did you handle it?
This question again highlights problem solving skills but also touches on personal responsibility. You want to know if this person owns up when they make an error and how they take steps to fix it.
What are your career goals for the future?
(Or the ubiquitous, Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years?) This will give you an idea of whether or not their goals for advancement are in line with what your company can offer, which can make all the difference in whether or not an employee sticks around.
Sources: articles.bplans.com, the balance.com
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