As you sit down to interview a potential candidate, there will be plenty of questions. Ideally, you will ask but a few and the candidate will be speaking and asking 70-80% of the time. This is where the candidate finds out more about the organization and the organization finds out more about the candidate. Questions will be asked, mostly by you, but what kinds of questions should you ask? Here are seven question types often encountered in interviews, and not all of them should be used:
- Open Question- This is a question designed to allow a candidate to express feelings and opinions, provide facts, and otherwise get them talking. For example, you could ask “What are the duties in your current job?” By observing their responses and body language, you can get a feel for what aspects they are enthusiastic about.
- Closed Question- If it could be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, it’s a closed question. Although some closed questions are unavoidable, you should try to keep these to a minimum. It’s very easy for a candidate to give you the answer he or she thinks you want. However, a closed question can serve as a lead-in to an open question, such as “Did you like your last job?” leading to “Tell me what you liked best about it.”
- Multi-Question- “Why do you want to work here, where do you see yourself in five years, and why are you leaving your current job?” Stay away from asking multiple questions in one overall question. The candidate will either answer only the questions they want to and avoid those that might be too revealing, or else they may forget to answer some of them while answering others. Ask one question at a time.
- Leading Question- While you want to be sure the candidate knows about the nature of the job, you also want honest answers. Don’t ask questions like “This is a very fast-paced, high-pressure environment. How well do you do under pressure?” You’ve essentially told them what answer you want. It’s better to use an open question, such as “What was the workplace environment like in your last job?” Watch the body language and listen to their wording as they describe it to get an idea of how they felt about it.
- Hypotheticals- These should be avoided if at all possible. It might be tempting to ask “How would you deal with an angry customer?”. However, how people think they will react and how they would actually react can be two different things. It’s better to ask for examples, such as “Give me an example of how you dealt with an angry customer.”
- Self-assessment- “Why do you think you’re right for this job?” This is the most difficult question for a candidate to answer, and it can play right into the hands of a smooth-talker who has figured out what you want to hear. A candidate can answer this question with plenty of confidence and almost no skill, and you may wind up a new hire who tends to bluff his or her way through things. Conversely, you may pass up a highly skilled candidate whose only fault is modesty. Try to avoid these kinds of questions.
- Probing Question- An open question is designed to get a broad picture of the candidate. Probing questions help you refine that picture and get a bit more detail. Not only does this give you more information on specific experiences, it can provide a window into what the candidate’s “soft skills” are like (time management, work ethic, communication, teamwork skills, etc.).
Once the interview is over, be sure to allow the candidate time to ask questions of their own. Even this period can give you insights into what the candidate is interested in about the organization and the position. It can also reveal information that you might not have asked about during the interview. After the candidate has left, consolidate your notes while the information is still fresh in your mind before moving on to your next interview.
Remember that an interview works both ways. You are learning about the candidate and the candidate is learning about you. For more help in conducting the interview process, contact us today and see how we can help you find the most suitable candidates for your organization.