Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Interview Process: Questions to Ask (And Not to Ask)


To determine the top, most qualified candidates for a position with your company, the most important step is undoubtedly the job interview itself. While reference checks and careful resume reviewing are extremely helpful to determining a candidate’s fit within your company, nothing beats the job interview. Here, you can meet the potential employee in person, and can gauge firsthand if they are a fit for both and the job and your company.

There are a multitude of questions that an employer can ask a potential candidate to determine if they are a good fit. Interview questions can vary from company to company and position to position. Below are some good questions to ask (and not to ask).

Determine the position’s job requirements and responsibilities in regards to the work environment. Is it a managerial/supervisory role? Does the position rely heavily on working with a team? If the former, some good interview questions may be asking the candidate to provide examples of a time that they were successful in a leadership role and what made them successful. This can reveal a potential candidate’s leadership style, and the efficiency of their management abilities. If the latter, asking for an example of when the candidate was involved in a successful project and what role they played can help identify what type of team player they are and if they can effectively work with others to achieve results.

It is also important to make sure that a potential candidate will fit in personally with your company. While this may be apparent right away during the interview, sometimes a few questions are necessary to discover the candidate’s fit. You can ask the candidate to describe their perfect work environment, one that would make them the most productive and happy, or some positive aspects of their current position that they particularly enjoy.

Of course, questions pertaining to the skills and responsibilities of the particular position, and the candidate’s ability to perform the requirements of the job should be asked. Since all companies and positions are different, these questions should be tailored to each position within your own company.

There are some interview questions that legally should be avoided, for the sake of your company and your potential employer. Anything pertaining to race, age, religion, marital status/pregnancy, disability, gender, or birthplace/nationality are off limits. These topics can come up in seemingly harmless questions, especially if you are comfortable during the interview and making small talk. If a candidate offers the information willingly, there is no harm in responding, but as a rule, steer clear from these conversation topics.

The examples above only skim the surface of the different interview questions that you could potentially ask a candidate. Get creative with your questions. Most likely you are not a candidate’s first interview, and if you ask a lot of canned questions, you will more than likely receive a lot of canned responses. The interview aspect of the hiring process doesn’t have to be a chore, and is the best way to find those stellar employees for your company.

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