17 January 2017
Essential Questions to ask candidates at interview

As an employer conducting a job interview, the questions you ask, are going to be the only tools you have within a very short time, to determine not only the right person for the job role but how that decision could affect the success or progress of your organisation.

Results from surveys by the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) show clearly that bad recruitment decisions do not stay within the interview room:

  • Estimations suggest that the average cost of employing the wrong person is between £8,200 and £12,000 for senior managers or directors
  • Even in small workplaces it has also been estimated that a wrong recruitment could cost anywhere between £1000 to £28000.

Therefore, the questions you ask need to give you a clear idea of this stranger who will be joining your team. This is not just a case of whether they have the skills and experience to fulfill their role. You need to know where whether they will fit into organisational processes for instance, whether they are considering a long-term position, whether they are career minded, how they will behave in crisis situations and whether they understand and show loyalty to the company brand.

First of all though, let’s filter out those don’ts…

In an effort to cover all bases, there will be a tendency to over-script what you will be asking the applicant. But this can have negative results. Remember that you want to hear responses from the applicant and bounce off those responses to delve deeper into how they uniquely think and act. So it is more useful to use a small amount of powerful effective questions. (see below)

You will learn more from the applicant if you can put them at their ease. So, put your sadistic leanings to one side-this is not an interrogation. Torture is not allowed even for the most-high profile positions. Casual chatting will break down barriers and will trigger meaningful and sincere answers.

Stay away from closed questions. This is where the applicant can answer yes or no or with a concrete fact. Answers should reflect ways of working, behaving, aspirations and their own unique perceptions.

Use this time to facilitate questions which give you an insight into how they behave or think. Try to stay away from the old tried and tested formulas. For instance, there was a time when “What is your greatest weakness?” really was a cute way to throw the applicant off balance and give a genuine idea of their problem areas. However, this question is expected now so interviewees prepare for it and subsequently the answer is far from sincere.

So here are 7 questions which help access that vital information you will need:

Can you tell us about a time when you made a mistake? If so how did you deal with it? This can be work or social life.

This question is in two parts because you need to know whether the applicant can accept they make mistakes. In focussing on how they deal with a mistake you can get a clear idea as to whether they see it as a weakness or an experience they can learn from. Whether they tend to blame or take constructive action. Attitudes to mistakes will also be a good barometer as to how an individual deals with those around and may be a good pointer as team performance.

Tell me about a time when you exceeded expectations

An experience where they have worked to meet goals for a team is a sure winner as it suggests they are both team and work focussed. Comparing achievements in terms of colleagues can throw up warning lights to insecurities and bad teamwork struggles. This question helps to define what drives the individual and their own unique goals.

Why do you want to work for our company?

This question will reflect how much they know about the company/research they have committed to and therefore any real desire to work for the brand. How committed are they? Do they understand the over-arching mission of the company?

What do you do enjoy in your spare time?

This is often considered a token question but it can give a clear idea of the applicant’s personality in relation to their work life. For instance, someone who enjoys risky sports (bungee jumping, hang-gliding etc.) is likely to be a risk-taker; an individual who enjoys painting, music or reading is likely to be creative and possibly innovative; a sporty person is likely to be competitive and a hobby that has led to trophy’s etc. is likely to suggest commitment and passion.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Are they just filling a space? Are they looking to move from a bad place? Are they wanting a career? You don’t want to be advertising for the job again in three months’ time because the candidate is a serial interviewee. How do their goals compare with what your company can offer? Even at the interview stage you should be thinking about how future training budgets work in tandem with recruitment. Look out for the red lights when candidates tell you they want to travel or audition on the X factor etc.

Tell me about the last time you had to hit a deadline?

Even if they have all the skills needed for the post you need to understand how they will deal with the pressure involved. This question will give an idea of attitude to working overtime or out of hours, commitment and working in stressful situations.

What skills do you think are needed to perform this job effectively?

This gives a great insight into how the candidate understands what the role is all about. This can trigger a conversation which can clarify whether you are both on the same page. Also, you can compare ideas as to the real skills which are needed for the post.

Peak Recruitment is the leading recruitment agency in Thailand. A human resource specialist, our pioneering methodology and commitment to deliver exemplary services has placed us first for executive recruitment in Bangkok. As a team, we offer a distinctive approach that you just won’t find anywhere else in Thailand.  For contact information  click here