10 questions to ask a candidate

You’ve sifted through the resumes and picked out the people you think are likeliest to be the most-fitting pieces of the jigsaw. Now comes stage two – getting to know the actual person behind the words on their cover letter and CV.

Working out whether someone will be a good fit for your company during an interview is extremely difficult. They will – after all – be performing in order to impress you. Their personality will probably be a lot different once they start hitting the nine-to-five routine for you.

To maximise your chances of securing the right person, here are ten interview questions that will help nail down their suitability for your company.

[1] Why should we hire you?

This is the question you’ll be asking yourself, so why not ask the interviewee for an answer? Their response should tell you what they feel sets them apart from other candidates in today’s tough job market. They need to be able to explain how their education, working experience and personal drive makes them uniquely suitable for the role you are offering.

[2] What contribution do you feel you would make?

This question will really help you sort the more suitable candidates from those whom you should look to discard. Those who can answer succinctly have obviously put thought into this. Those who find this question difficult to answer haven’t done enough homework.

[3] What motivates you?

Another excellent question. A lot of candidates will simply give generic answers, such as ‘doing a good job’ or ‘working well with colleagues’. Listen out for more personal answers, including those that are not even work related.

[4] What demotivates you?

You should always follow the previous question with this one. Candidates typically expect the ‘motivation’ question, but not to be asked about demotivation. Again, if they stumble, it’s likely they are just saying things to impress you. If they give real-life examples of how they’ve resolved serious demotivation issues in the past, then that’s a positive sign.

[5] If I ask your last manager where you need to improve, what would they say?

A candidate needs to be honest. If they’re not being honest then you cannot be expected to make a successful decision. Most people have the ability to wax lyrical about what they are good at, but not many can invent ‘failings’ on the spot. This question is a good way of prising an honest answer out of your candidate.

[6] How have you involved other people when difficult decisions have to be made?

All roles come with some necessity of management – even if it’s ‘only’ leading a minor project. How a candidate responds to this will reveal a lot about the way they deal with other people, and how comfortable they feel when they do.

[7] Tell me about the best manager you ever had

This is another excellent question as it will tell you a lot about the type of management style your candidate prefers. Do they like a boss who is ‘one of the lads’, or someone who adheres to routine, remains largely aloof but offers support when needed? You can then estimate how they would fit in with the management styles at your company.

[8] Explain how you’ve coped with a difficult situation

It would be nice if everything in business ran smoothly, but we all experience rough patches. Ask for examples of past difficult situations during your candidate’s career, and how they coped. Beware of ‘if this happened this is what I would do’ answers – you need real-world examples.

[9] What would you do differently if you could start your career over?

This is another question designed to elicit an honest response. Nobody is perfect, and you can learn a lot about someone from their answer, including how they have learned from their mistakes.

[10] Where do you see yourself in five years time?

Okay, so this is a bit of a generic question, but you need to know if your candidate has given it any thought. People who think of the future instead of the ‘now’ are more likely to be as interested in the growth of your company as they are in their own personal growth.

“We work by taking the tried and trusted processes used by large, successful corporations and implementing them in a practical way that suits small-to-medium-sized Trade businesses. Our solutions must deliver financial return for our clients for us to feel satisfied that we’ve achieved our aim.”

— Alison Warner

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