There’s lots of advice out there for job applicants who have finally bagged that precious job interview. From the employer’s perspective the interview is a vital tool in selecting new recruits. Yet advice is often thinner on the round. Staff are the most important resource for your business so it’s important you get it right. Interviewing can be a lengthy and time-consuming process and you want to be sure you are selecting the right candidate.
The most effective interviewers often develop a list of questions which helps them find out about the candidate’s job history, their general skill set/attitude and their suitability for the particular job in question. Interviews vary between sectors but there are some general principles which are useful to all interviewers.
Here’s our top 12 things to ask when interviewing a potential new employee:
Can you tell us what attracted you to this job?
Such introductory questions can relax a potentially nervous candidate and gives you a chance to see how much they have found out about the company. If the answer is long-winded be ready with a strategy to move on.
Why did you leave your previous job?
This question is aimed at finding out factual job history information and can be a useful way of identifying any potential future issues with the employee.
What did you like most and least in your last job?
By asking questions like this, you can find out more job history information but also about the candidate’s own preferences and dislikes; it will help you assess their motivations.
What are your main strengths and weaknesses?
It’s good to hear the candidate’s own assessment; the answers will give the interviewer good opportunities for follow-up questions.
What type of people do you like to work with?
This question helps give an insight into the candidate’s team-working skills and attitude. It may also help you assess their cultural fit with your company.
Under which management style do you tend to work best?
The answer can be matched against what the candidate can expect in the role.
Have you ever been on a team where someone was not pulling their own weight? How did you handle it or how would you if it were to happen?
A behavioural question about handling conflict. It should also tell you about the candidate’s interpersonal skills.
(For supervisory jobs) What are the most important skills for a supervisor to have? How have you managed the performance of employees in the past?
These questions are designed to test the candidate’s supervisory and managerial experience as well as their approach.
If you had to make a decision about doing one task or another, but neither will complete the job you have to do, how do you decide what to do?
A hypothetical question which tests decision-making and independent-working skills.
Tell us about a time when you believe that you’ve really pleased an external customer or an internal manager?
An open question giving the candidate a chance to impress on the basis of previous experience and ending on a positive note towards the end of the interview.
What are you looking for in terms of career development?
This will help you assess the approach and ambition of the candidate. It will also show you to be a forward-looking and progressive employer.
Do you have any questions for us?
It is always a good idea to give the candidate an opportunity to ask questions; their questions will also tell you something further about their interest and motivations.
In general, ask ‘open ended’ questions that cannot be answered by a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ and remember that you cannot ask discriminatory questions – organisations have a legal responsibility to ensure that no unlawful discrimination occurs at any stage in the recruitment process. Government information on discriminatory questions can be found here and ACAS provides more advice on recruitment here.
And finally, fun though it may be, interviewers are advised not to ask quirky questions such as ‘If you were an animal, which one would you want to be?’ It really won’t tell you much!