What to Ask
Break the ice at the beginning of the interview by asking the candidate about her hobbies. What you learn can help you gauge her personality and assess her fit in your office. Those who participate in sports are often competitive and driven. Crafters may have a knack for seeing the bigger picture such as completing duties on time.. Gardeners can take the long view and understand the value of working toward goals over time.
When moving on to the meat of the interview, remember that predictable questions will receive predictable answers. Rest assured each candidate who walks through the door is ready to tell you that his worst quality is his perfectionism. To learn the truth of a candidate’s qualifications and work habits, you need to ask directed questions and let the answers lead the interview.
If, for example, you are interviewing a candidate for a leadership position, start by asking her to describe a successful project she has led, then follow up with directed questions such as:
- What was your greatest leadership challenge during this project?
- How would you describe your communication with your team when problems arose?
- Was the project completed within the original timeline? If not, what caused the schedule delays?
Do not limit your questions to successes. Ask about failures, as well. The candidate’s response to these questions allows you to look for resilience in the face of a setback. Ask:
- Could you describe a time you had a goal that was not met or a project not completed?
- What do you feel were the reasons for your failure?
- What, if anything, would you change if you had an opportunity to work toward that goal again?
As you allow the candidate’s answers to direct you, pay attention for traits that would be better suited for your office or those which are incompatible.