The Interview Questions You Need to Ask

The Interview Questions You Need to Ask

There is a lot of talk about interviewing and how to interview correctly. If you do a search for “interview questions” you will probably find the same old, tired questions which have been asked over and over again. Candidates can easily come to an interview with “canned” answers to these worn-out questions (“What is your biggest weakness?” “I’m a perfectionist.” Etc.)

In our experience assisting various kinds of agencies in their hiring and promotional processes, we have seen many truths that are unilateral. One of these truths is this: sometimes the candidates who “seem” great when you meet and interview them, may actually fail miserably at the job.

To really evaluate candidates, you need to ask questions that will tell you what you really want to know: how will you perform in this position? In order to get this information, it is essential that you ask the right questions. Much can be learned by listening to how a candidate has handled instances in the past, in addition to how they foresee handing future instances.

In a behaviorally based interview the focus is on the candidate’s natural response to situations. The reason why we focus on this is because many of the characteristics required for success on the job are innate: they are behaviors that cannot be trained or learned, rather they are a part of a person’s character.

Starting with the right questions can help you uncover a lot about a person. Once they’ve answered the question, you can keep learning about them by keeping the conversation going. Ask follow up questions, such as: “What did you (or would you) do next?” “How did he/she respond to that?”

Some of the questions we use, in our behaviorally based interview guides, sound like this:

  1. Give me an example of a situation where you made a mistake in life or on the job. What did you learn from this experience?

  • Be wary: of someone who pushes blame or responsibility onto someone else.

  • Be interested: in someone who focuses on addressing and fixing the problem.

  • Be impressed: with someone who takes responsibility for any wrong doing, admits their mistake, and worked to not only fix the problem but learn from it.

  1. How would you handle a decision that management made which you do not agree with?

  • Be wary: of someone who attempts to get around management’s decision because “I knew I was right” or otherwise undermines authority.

  • Be interested: in someone who did what was requested of them and then sought out a suitable time when they could respectfully voice their concerns.

  • Be impressed: with someone who did what was needed, remained driven, and was able to encourage others to move forward in spite of questions.

  1. Give me an example of a situation where you had to make a tough decision. What was the final result?

  • Be wary: of someone who doesn’t have an answer. Everyone has to make tough decisions sometimes.

  • Be interested: in someone who made a hard choice based on data or reasoning.

  • Be impressed: with someone who made a hard choice with interpersonal consequences, or made a choice based on data or reasoning which had interpersonal consequences. Making effective decisions entails being aware of all the factors involved, including the human factors, as well as the possible implications of a decision.

Asking these types of questions enables you to get past the “canned” answers of a candidate, and helps you to understand their thought process, how they apply their common sense/logic, and to draw out any discrepancies between the candidate’s resume and their actual experience and behaviors. Select Advantage provides many more behaviorally based questions in our job specific Interview Guides. Contact our office today to find out more about how we can help you find the best candidates for your agency the next time you hire or promote.