When looking for a potential employee to contribute to the success of your business and the collegial climate of the office, the interview is crucial. According to Inc.com, the modern-day interview can’t just focus on responsibilities and skills, but needs to also give you a good look at the person. Will the candidate be a good fit in your office? Does their passion and drive match your team’s and company’s goals?
Take some time to prepare thoughtful, revealing questions for an interview with these four tips:
1. Basic Evidence
You reviewed the resume and references before your meeting, but after the handshake and the "what we're looking for," you need to know who's sitting in front of you. Toss out some getting-to-know-you questions that peel back the job interview veneer to reveal the person behind all those expensive degrees and impressive internships.
"What was the one thing that appealed to you about this position instantly?" Not only is this question a good opener, it allows you to see how closely your vision for the position aligns with the candidate’s. The answer will reveal if the candidate had done his or her company “homework” or not.
"What do you envision a typical day would be like for you in this job?" This question delves a little deeper. A candidate who's invested the time to understand your company and envisioned working in it is off to a strong start.
2. Get Creative
"What do you love to do more than anything else?" The answer to this question will help you to understand what motivates that person to get up in the morning. It might not be work and that's OK. Everybody needs a passion, and you do want a company of innovative individuals who care about something.
"Tell me about your greatest challenge and achievement, and how you dealt with each of them." This request should give you a glimpse inside the thinking process and the level of experience and maturity the candidate brings to the job. A savvy interviewee prepares for this and targets a true story to showcase his/her suitability for the position.
"Tell me something about yourself that I would not guess from your resume — an unusual talent or skill, a peculiar book or personal experience that changed your life." The unscripted story is just as enlightening as the prepared material.
3. That Extra Mile
You want a team player who will invest in the growth of your company; someone who sees his personal success is aligned with yours. Toss this question out to test for commitment, quick thinking and leadership. For example:
"How would you respond to this? You're just finishing up the final details of a completed project late on Friday, the phone rings and it's a colleague's client. An important deadline wasn't met; something that should have been delivered wasn't. You're the only one in the office and you don't work in that division. What do you do?" The answer to this question will give you a deeper insight to whether the candidate is willing to go the extra mile or just punching the clock. The answer should show you that the candidate is someone who cares enough to help you make your business work — regardless of whether the project was their responsibility in the first place.
4. Money, Money
"What salary do you need?" is a fair question. You want an employee who feels fairly compensated, has no anxiety about paying bills and is focused on the work, on personal challenge and on growth in the job. This isn't the cat-and-mouse question to see if the candidate's expectations are in line with your reality — "What salary are you hoping for?" — although the candidate’s answer will make that clear. Instead, this question opens a brief discussion about the value the candidate brings to your company and the value your company provides to that employee. Money may be secondary in that equation.
You may guide the conversation to "Where do you see yourself in five years, and what would you expect to be making then?" You'll quickly identify the informed, ambitious workers with career goals and a sense of how they fit in with your company.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
About the Author
Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in "USA Today," the "San Francisco Chronicle," "The New York Times," and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has worked in executive management for global advertising and marketing firms, in finance industry regulation, as an educator, and as head of her own successful small business for 15 years.
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