Conducting a good interview is an art form. Within a relatively short period of time, you need to gather enough of the right type of information to determine whether a candidate is the best fit for a given position. And with so many interview preparation resources available online, it's easy for candidates to come over-prepared with canned responses to those all-too-common interview questions.
Research has shown that carefully selecting interview questions and determining acceptable answers ahead of time greatly increases your chances of success. So what are the "right" questions to ask?
To get a better understanding of the candidate's skills and experience as well as their conversational skills, problem-solving skills, and ability to think quickly, you'll have to go beyond the expected and ask questions that will allow you to judge their suitability for the position.
Here are five rules for crafting interview questions that result in great hires:
1. Know what you're looking for
Good interview questions give you useful insight into a candidate's suitability for the job. But you can't ask good interview questions if you don't identify the specific qualities and skills needed for the role.
In order to make sure you're asking interview questions that will give you what you're looking for, first make a comprehensive list of the qualities you can assess through interview questions. Determine which of these qualities are most important to the role, and prepare a list of questions that elicit responses that illustrate the most pertinent qualities.
For example, asking how a candidate engaged with customers in a previous role is essential for a new position that will have them engaging with customers. But if a candidate is transitioning into a customer management role or a non-related role, you won't get the answers you need by asking about their customer service experience.
2. Ensure your interview questions are compliant
Recruiters and hiring managers increasingly must navigate restrictions around questions they can ask and questions that have been determined by a state or region to be illegal. Double-check that you're avoiding interview questions that solicit information from candidates that could be used to discriminate against them, such as questions about a candidate's age, race, religion, or gender, which could open your company up to a lawsuit.
[Keep Reading: Check your local, state, and federal discrimination laws ]
3. Ask questions about problem-solving
No matter the type of business or role within that business, problems will arise. Whether a significant issue or a minor situation, problems provide opportunities for improvement, and a company will benefit from employees who can rise to the occasion. Asking open-ended questions so the candidate can describe their approach to identifying problems, assessing the situation, and coming up with solutions.
Questions such as, "Tell me about a situation in which you had to solve a problem. What did you do, and what was the outcome?" allow you to assess whether the applicant took initiative, analyzed the situation, acted mindfully to propose and implement a solution.
4. Assess the candidate's ability to learn and adapt
Change is inevitable, and all roles evolve over time. Employees that can adapt to change can ultimately help companies grow by avoiding higher turnover in the future. It's possible to screen for the adaptability and a learning mindset by asking interview questions around topics such as:
- Times they've taken on on new tasks, assignments, and ideas
- Experiences with learning new tools, technology, and processes
- Examples of managing unpredictable situations and adapts to changing circumstances
5. Ask behavior-based questions
Interview questions that reveal a candidate's emotional intelligence can help you identify candidates with high levels of self-awareness, situational awareness, and propensity to respond appropriately in the workplace. Behavioral interview questions such as, "Think of a time when you received feedback from someone else that surprised you," and "Describe a situation when you had to deliver the same bad news to more than one person," will allow you to capture a sense of the candidate's self-awareness.
[Read more: 10 Perfect Interview Questions to Ask Engineers]
6. Interview questions that improve over time
If interviewing is an art, hiring managers and recruiters are always perfecting it. Even the most seasoned hiring professional must constantly test, assess, and reinvent the common interview questions they use to place the best candidate in a role. These five rules provide a sound framework to work from as you adjust interview questions by the role, candidate, situation, and industry.
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