8 questions an interviewer should ask every candidate

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When it comes to interviewing candidates, it’s just as important for HR professionals and business owners to prepare as it is for candidates. If you know the right questions to ask, an interview is a perfect opportunity to dive into an applicant’s character, interests, ethics, and suitability for your company. What should you ask a potential employee to reveal these truths? Here are eight exploratory interview questions to get the information you really need from candidates.

1. What job skills do you have that qualify you for this position?

This straight-forward question will tell you a lot about the candidate. This is the perfect opportunity to find out whether they researched the company and position for which they’re applying, if their education is useful for this field, and whether the job experience they’ve had can help your company grow. You need to know if this candidate can do the job, and this question should tell you the answer.

2. What are your proudest achievements from your professional life?

The answer to this question can highlight the candidate’s values, ambition, drive, and what they want most from their career. If a candidate is coming in from a completely different field, you can sometimes discover surprising skills and priorities. 

For example, a former machinist might be an exceptionally talented speaker who would be better suited for management or sales than the shop floor. Listen carefully to what your candidate’s pride points are and how they prioritize and value accomplishments.

3. Tell me about a challenge you’ve faced and what you did to solve the problem.

How a person sees and faces a problem is important. Pay attention to what a person views as a problem. Are they someone who sees the big picture and is a visionary thinker, or are they more detail-oriented? 

Visionary thinkers are great at building systems and solving larger-scale problems, but they tend to work best alone and without interruptions or distractions. These people are best in upper management or in positions where they can work on very complex problems or conceptualize new ways of doing things. 

Detail-oriented candidates tend to thrive in environments that are busy, make use of their extroverted nature, and are best in situations where the work is fast-paced, and there are multiple demands on their attention. They can solve a hundred small problems an hour and smooth the road for everyone who works with them.

4. What is your ideal work environment?

This question is another clue about whether a candidate is a visionary or detail-oriented thinker and whether they are introverted or extroverted. Learn about personalities and how each type of personality is suited for certain purposes because it can ensure that you use employees to the best of their abilities. Naturally bubbly people should be placed in positions that will make them happy and let them spread their natural happiness to those they work with. They can boost morale beautifully. Quiet candidates are better suited for more serious tasks, like data-entry or researching and locating the best materials and supplies for certain jobs.

5. What type of problems do you see yourself solving in this position?

This type of question lets you know if a candidate really wants the job and is motivated enough to go beyond basic job duties. If the person comes back with a very detailed answer, they’re genuinely interested in the position and want to help. They’ve likely put a lot of research and thought into what the job entails, and they’ve got the drive to succeed with your company.

6. Why are you leaving your current position?

This can be one of the most revealing questions about a candidate. It tells you about their fears, frustrations, desires, and what they absolutely won’t tolerate. You need to be sure that you don’t put an applicant into a position where they’re in the same situation they were in at their last job. Their deal-breakers are important, and you need to value what they’re saying.

7. What’s one skill that you think you need for this position that you don’t have or want to improve upon?

The answer to this question can help you help them be the best employee. Candidates truly appreciate the opportunity to improve themselves and bring value to your business. What your applicant says can inform what aspects of the job you need to concentrate on during their training period. This is the golden opportunity to hear what your applicant needs from you to be the best they can be. You can also prevent a situation where an employee is lagging, they’re criticized by a manager, or it hurts their pride to ask for help, so they don’t ask. Preventing problems is a win-win for your company!

8. What do you like to do outside of work hours?

While this isn’t the most common interview question, it is a valuable one. The candidates you will interview are more than just the job they fill. They’re living, breathing people with special skills and talents that can breathe life into your business, help them connect with customers and co-workers, and be the outlet they need to decompress so they can come back to working with all pistons firing. It’s important that applicants have interests outside of work to prevent burnout and boost their happiness.

Try to remember that interviewees are in a nerve-wracking position, and they’re acutely aware of how important this process is to their future. They’re stressed, and this process isn’t easy for them. The more you put them at ease, the more they’ll open up and tell you about themselves.

Candidates truly appreciate candid questions, responses that show your interest, and your efforts to help them through this process. Remember that you’re being tested during this process, too. They can tell if you’re really interested in them or if your questions sound too “cookie-cutter” and disingenuous.

Be genuine, and try to listen actively, respond kindly, and represent your company as a place they really want to work. This will allow them to relax and shine. The more they relax, the more they reveal. The more they reveal, the better you can determine their appropriateness for positions within your company and how you can turn them into the Rockstar employee you want and need them to be.

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Angela

Angela

Angela Hood, a serial entrepreneur from Austin, Texas, developed Ai4JOBS after years of research, development, and incubation at the University of Cambridge ideaSpace in England. Now operating across the world, ‘Ai4JOBS by ThisWay’ provides employers, recruiters, and staffing agencies with a suite of solutions that delivers unbiased job-to-candidate matching technology. ThisWay’s acclaimed technology and ethics-based methodologies help both businesses and individuals find greater success in the job world, through matching that matters. Hood’s passion around building unbiased technology was born from her own experience working as a field engineer and project manager in the construction and land development industries. She is a business and recognized thought leader in the fields of artificial intelligence, entrepreneurship and the ROI of diversity. Her groundbreaking work in artificial intelligence and de-biasing is often referenced in international research and is featured in a Simon & Schuster book being released in August 2019.

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