Your company is growing, and you want to recruit new specialists. In order to find the perfect candidate, you need to create a recruitment strategy with the right questions. But how do you ask the right questions?
Candidates have one hour to show their interest and potential, but you also have only one hour to find out if that person is the right one for the job. The importance of questions is unquestionable, and if you’re not a professional recruiter it can be stressful to come up with good questions. Amoria Bond wants to help progress lives everywhere and that’s why we’ve created a question guide, which will help you create good and fair questions. Read further if you want the best people for your company.
1. What are the standard questions hiring managers ask?
Some structure to an interview is important. If you are going to compare one candidate against another fairly, you need a level playing field of questions. A few examples are achievements based and personality factored questions.
You can probe your candidate around their interest in the role and your organisation. Questions factored around a person’s working relationships - and how they overcame any issues - can be helpful. As can setting questions that explore a candidate’s previous ability to learn new skills to help an employer and better themselves.
It’s always good to ask a person about their personal achievements and what they are proud of. You can learn a lot about a person’s approach to work and life by understanding what drives them on and motivates them. Here are some basic questions you can ask:
Can you tell me more about yourself?
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
What are your long-term goals in a career?
How did you find our company?
2. Are there any questions to avoid altogether?
There are challenging questions, downright rude questions and then there are illegal questions! If you say the wrong thing, then it’s possible you could fall foul of equality and anti-discrimination legislation, which is bad news for you and your company’s reputation.
For the latest advice on what you can and cannot say, consult with your legal team or seek further information. But as a starter, here are some of the more obvious questions you should never ask during an interview:
How old are you?
Do you have/plan on having children?
What is your religion?
How much do you weigh?
3. How do I ask the right questions?
You know the saying “there’s no such thing as a stupid question?” Well, that’s only partly true. Hiring the wrong person is a painful process. And when you are under pressure to get the right information, in a short space of time, your choice of questions is important.
Everyone knows that it’s better to use open questions to inspire more thorough responses. And you should challenge your prospect beyond the realm of stock response answers, with leading follow-up questions and prompts. But you also need to have a clear idea of the information you want to generate, before you pose the question. We wrote a few good open questions:
Can you name one professional achievement, which you are very proud of? (follow-up: can you elaborate on that achievement? Follow the STAR method)
Why would you fit in our company (follow-up: What value of our company suits you the best?)
Can you work alone? (not an open question)
How would you come to work? Car, public transportation? (is this relevant?)
4. Money talks. But should you talk about it?
Interviews are time consuming. And it’s a waste of time for all involved if a candidate is out of your price range. Some companies have been known to interview people they cannot afford just to get an idea of what is available beyond their budget. But that just isn’t respectful, it’s much better to speak to people who know and are happy with your salary expectations!
It’s popular these days to present a salary range, rather than a single figure. When Amoria Bond’s recruitment consultants work on a client’s role, we become intimate with their budget and can guide them on whether the depth of their pockets matches the aspirations of their job description. We know how much a hiring manager is willing to pay for the right person and we will only present candidates who are happy with the money being offered.
If you want to find the best people, you can afford to be honest and upfront with your offer. And if you don’t know how much a candidate is seeking….ask them during your pre-screening calls and avoid any awkward later conversations altogether! Here are some ice breakers to address money:
What would you like to earn yearly?
What corporal benefits do you seek in a job?
Is a higher salary more important to you or job opportunities and why?
5. How hard should you go with your questions?
The answer to that question isn’t black or white. Many recruitment professionals are of the view that harder questions, and a more rigorous interview, generates candidates who are a better fit for your organisation. But at the same time, you don’t want to come across as confrontationally inquisitive; create an atmosphere of positive can-do energy, don’t leave your candidate feeling mentally bruised and battered!
An added complication when trying to push a candidate with a question arises with video conferencing. When trying to get under the skin of a wannabe employee an interviewer can ask probing questions which may well be uncomfortabl
e. It’s hard enough to know how far to push things in a face to face. But without the rapport you get from sitting across a table, mistakes can easily be made.
If a candidate succeeds through a challenging interview process, they will likely look back on the process positively. Proud that they overcame the challenge and pleased that it meant they were well suited for their role.
Why should we hire you?
How would you define success?
Situation question: Ask your candidate how they would resolve a specific problem within the team or with their project.
6. How can you get the right information from your interview questions?
If you are struggling to get the information you need, it may well be the way you asked the question. What do they say? Something about the definition of madness being to repeat the same process ad nauseum and expect different results? So, if you feel that the candidate has more to offer, don’t get frustrated - think about reframing and redirecting your approach.
Besides reframing your question, the key to successful interviewing is listening. If you don’t understand and delve properly into what you are being told, how can you expect to ask the right follow-on questions?
Bad interviewers are too quick to speak and less ready to listen. It’s a natural response for many people to want to come across as engaging, but finding the right balance is so important. No, we’re not talking about ‘speak when spoken to’ here - instead you want to encourage the best responses.
When you really listen to what someone is saying, the follow-up questions should come naturally. Short prompts and open questions that push a candidate to expand upon their statement work best.
For the most challenging and pertinent questions, it can be a good idea to think about the answer you want in advance. Preparation and a keen sense of what you need to know leads to success. You ask the right questions, and you get the right answers. Why not prepare two alternative ways to pose the question in advance? Reframe your question and try again!
Simply put: ask good open questions, learn when to be quiet and when to listen. Let the candidate speak and only interrupt if you need to guide them to divulge more. Here are some alternatives to popular questions:
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Which tasks are you good in professionally?
With which tasks within your job can you improve?
On which tasks do you perform well on?
Tell me more about yourself?
What is your career path?
What working culture do you like?
Tell me 5 character traits which define you as a person?
7. Are presentations better than a question-based interview?
A candidate presentation can serve as a useful indicator of an interviewee’s capability. They can also help you to better understand how much that person wants to work for you and how they might present themselves as an employee.
If you choose the right subject matter, a presentation offers insight into a candidate’s knowledge, experience, personality and ambition. But if you don’t choose the right subject, you make no worthwhile improvements to your recruitment process. You could end up wasting valuable time and even miss out on the top candidate you wanted.
Think about whether a presentation on the subject you have in mind is really that helpful. If you have a burning desire to see how your star candidate might perform under pressure, a presentation will give you that extra comfort. But if it just feels like extra hassle with little tangible benefit...why bother?
Good presentation subjects:
A common problem within the industry (how would the candidate tackle the problem?)
We hope that this guide will help you with choosing the right questions. Remember that this article is only a guide. That means that an interview is dynamic, and your questions don’t have to be set in stone. Nevertheless, there are some basics to keep in mind, we have summarized the most important aspects to remember:
When you don’t receive the right information, reframe your question
Listen carefully for good follow-on questions
Ask open questions
Challenging questions are good, but create a positive can-do energy
There are wrong and even illegal questions
Structure the order of your questions
Questions about money are okay
Presentations are only useful with the right subject
Work with Amoria Bond to improve your recruitment process
If you are looking to hire new staff and need support throughout your recruitment process, don't hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to tell you more about our specialised recruitment services and how we can help you further improve your interview and application procedures.