Hiring is one of the biggest concerns of executives to management level positions, especialy when it comes to hiring a manager. As it should be, hiring people to work for your company can be rewarding or risky.
Poor choices in hiring can take a drastic toll on the success of the business. Not to mention that who you hire has a direct reflection on you as a manager. Whereas great hiring choices can improve the overall cohesiveness of the work environment and boost production.
Establishing an excellent recruiting process starts with getting the right talent through the doors. Today, it’s considered more of an art than science, especially for startups and regardless of the company structure or rubrics.
There is added emphasis on the importance of asking the right questions during interviews. You only have a short amount of time with each potential candidate so you need to maximize your time accordingly. Just how do you do that?
There are hundreds of interviews questions but few are recommended by a senior leader in their respected fields.
1. What is something about yourself that others might find surprising?
What better way to get the cognitive juices flowing and set the pace for an interview than to allow the interviewee a chance to think outside of the box?
Rather than opening with an unguided interview question or statement such as, “Tell me a little about yourself” you keep the conversation focused and demand sincerity early on. It’s important to ask unique questions to obtain unique answers.
2. Why did you choose this industry and career?
Instead of asking questions that warrant a one or two sentence response such as Why are you here? Why are you interested in our company? Why are you interested in this job? Where exactly do you see yourself in 5 years? And 10 years? What is your dream job?
This question is designed to allow the interviewee to start to open up and express their professional and personal interests and goals.
As a manager, it’s important to learn more about your prospect’s career goals and how the position fits into their plan. You also want to make sure they are sincerely interested in the job and will be motivated to perform if chosen.
At the same time, this question is the bridge to building a more personal relationship with your candidate early into the hiring process. Based on your criteria, do you need to hire someone who is passionate about their career or someone who just showed up to collect a paycheck and benefits?
You can even learn about their 5 and 10 year-plan from this question and see what positions they hope to reach over the coming years.
3. What do you know about our company, what interests you the most and why do you want to work here?
We should believe that with the convenient access to information online today that most candidates would do their homework, but that’s not always the case. Unfortunately, some job applicants may not even know they type of business the company they applied for engages in.
Ask this interview question and you’ll find out quickly who is sincerely interested in working for you — and who isn’t.
Skill is something that can be taught but enthusiasm cannot. When a potential employee is genuinely excited about an opportunity, this usually translates into excellent work and greater longevity with your company.
Ask your interviewee about what initially attracted them to the position? What sparked their attention? What makes them most excited about the prospect of working for your company?
Doing so will not only provide yet another confirmation of their grasp of the duties of the role but also gives you a chance to figure out what aspects of the job description interest them the most.
4. From everything you’ve learned about this role, myself and our company, tell me how you feel you’d make a contribution.
This statement lets you see how much research your potential employee has done before arriving to the interview. While most qualified candidates typically will conduct research on the company and the position prior to the interview, a great candidate will take that extra step to be better prepared.
That same mindset will carry over into their working habits. Would you rather have an over-prepared or under-prepared new hire?
5. What would you have liked to do more of in your last position? What held you back?
A great way for a candidate to express their previous job experience and challenges without asking, “What are some challenges?” You control the direction and can easily bypass any challenges unrelated to the matter.
Were they faced with limited responsibilities, not enough job training, or poor leadership? Asking what held that potential employee back from something they wanted more of out of their last position will offer insight on whether they will feel the same way about their job working for your company in the future.
6. Only choosing one or the other, do you work hard or smart?
Similar but very different from the notorious question asked by Burger King’s 36-year-old CEO Daniel Schwartz.
Questions that aren’t posted on job application websites are more likely to warrant an unrehearsed response. By forcing the candidate to think on the spot and choose whether they want to appear as the right fit for the job is a great way to test their critical thinking and constructive criticism capabilities.
In Schwartz’ mind, there is a right and wrong answer for this question. He simply prefers people who work hard.
A tough labor demanding job may warrant the hard-working response whereas a position that demands more organization, scheduling, and many other tasks may require the smart worker response. A smart worker might be able to handle prolonged periods of stress while someone who works too hard for extensive amounts of time could become overwhelmed and crash.
7. How would you further describe your working style and how you are able to handle tight deadlines?
This builds from the last question, while you don’t want to build a team of people who are completely homogenous, it’s important to make sure that new additions are flexible and can work in a way that doesn’t wrench a hole in the way things currently operate.
For that reason, get to know each candidate’s working style. Do they like to collaborate with other members of the team or do they prefer to work independently? Do they require a lot of direction or can they take initiative, using good judgement and complete the task without supervision?
The insight gained from this interview question alone is invaluable for determining the right match for the job and debatably more importantly, for the entire team.
Another aspect that should be included with this question is the potential employee working style under time constraints, especially for positions that constantly demand a deadline.
Do you need someone who can work well under pressure? More importantly, do you need someone who can manage others or someone who can take orders well while dealing with limited time-frames for projects?
Ask your candidates this question and you will gain their opinion on how well they are able to handle stress as well as the insight on whether they can keep up with the pace at your organization.
Other follow-ups to this question could include asking if:
- They’ve ever missed a deadline?
- How they handled missing a deadline?
- If it’s better to be good and on-time or perfect and late?
It’s inevitable that we run into conflict at work. And it’s even more important for managers to know how to handle these situations when staff escalate tricky situations that they need help with.
9. How do you have difficult conversations with stakeholders about performance issues?
Some employees, suppliers or customers are overzealous while others may be underperforming. Wherever your stakeholders fall on this spectrum, remember it’s the manager who needs to address any issues impacting the performance of the team and business.
10. Describe a situation when you coached or mentored others. How would you describe your coaching style?
Knowing how to empower others so that they feel good about the work they are doing provides a creative environment that indirectly enhances the performance of the organization. Companies need managers and leaders who can listen, understand, and partner with others to realize the potential within themselves.
“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” — Bill Gates
11. Describe your management style. How will you handle unexpected changes and direction from management?
How will you handle unexpected changes and direction from management? This response will give you insight into how they will fit into the existing corporate environment or complement it. Consider the personalities, work environment, and stakeholders that are involved in the business.
12. How do you appreciate other people’s efforts?
We all give and receive in different ways. How will this individual accommodate the various styles on the team?
13. Why do you want to be a manager?
The candidates need to be clear on their rationale. This will give you an idea of what motivates them. Ask follow-up questions to dig deep and learn what drives them.
14. How do you provide positive feedback and constructive feedback? How do you tend to receive feedback?
Managers need to be able to work in diverse settings, adjust to change and troubleshoot. Their ability to provide observable and objective feedback impacts how others behave and ultimately perform at work.
15. What do you plan to accomplish within your first 30 days as a manager? How will you get to know the individuals on your team?
Change is usually coupled with a fear of the unknown and uncertainty. It’s no different when there is a new manager. People may feel uneasy and not know what to expect. It’s good to know how the new manager will handle this type of change.
16. How would you address mistakes that your team made to senior management?
Are they ready to be responsible for the success and failures of their team? The manager may not have made the mistake, but their team did and this is an indication that something was mismanaged. Is the manager politically astute enough to support the actions of the team and or learn from the errors made?
17. How do you develop yourself outside of the work environment? And what are some of your hobbies?
Whether it’s personal, professional or leadership development, it comes in all shapes and sizes and can easily be identified in someone’s hobbies, sense of purpose, or their hunger to explore.
The question isn’t the most conventional interview question but it’s always important to remember that you’re hiring a person. Do you want someone who can connect well with you and your team or a robot who is incapable of sharing interests, forming bonds and building relationships?
It is a commonly accepted fact by the business decision-makers that the skill of employees account for 85% of a company’s assets. Therefore, organizations dedicate much of their resources on training and improving the workplace. Employee efficiency and talent determines the pace and growth of the organizations.
You shouldn’t feel uncomfortable asking a question like this, especially if this question is asked later in the interview after you have had the opportunity to learn more about the prospect.
Understanding their personal investment into themselves will allow you to connect on a more personal level while also getting a bigger picture of what makes them “tick.”
18. The team you’re overseeing does a great job at __________. However, some of the challenges on this team include __________. What’s your plan to manage a team with such unique abilities, personalities and work styles to achieve the company’s objectives?
Is the candidate ready to let go of technical responsibilities to develop others? This question can give you insights about that.
19. Why should we hire you?
Many experts agree this is among the best interview questions because you’re asking the candidate to define what sets them apart from everyone else you have interviewed in a competition-intense job market.
If you are ever faced with a pile of resumes or interviewees telling similar stories about themselves this question helps you determine the best candidate.
A study conducted by Altimeter and LinkedIn showed that socially engaged companies are more likely to find that:
Employees are more engaged, more likely to stay and refer great talent, are more competitive and optimistic, and more likely to increase business and sales opportunities, drive greater lead generation, cultivate innovation, and yield top talent.
Another great way to consider the importance of this question is that an interviewee who does well explaining their background, experience, credentials, and hobbies will do the same thing for your company once hired.
20. Do you have any questions for me?
An excellent question to end the interview with while gaining additional insight on the quality of the potential employee. Last impressions are just as important as first impressions, especially for extensive hiring processes and multiple interviews.
If the candidate was paying attention during the interview, they won’t find this to be a tough question to answer so there’s no logical explanation for a blank stare response.
Substantial answers to this question signal a higher level of preparation and initiative.
Furthermore, those candidates that took notes during the interview and jotted down some questions to ask indicates their level of interest in the company beyond an individual role and shows their interest to the overall relationship within and among the organization.
View Interview Questions from Multiple Angles
Research suggests that most hiring decisions are made within 15 seconds. Whether that is enough time to warrant a good decision is debatable by many experts but unless they are poorly dresses or have bad hygiene it is advised to avoid passing any judgements until the interview is at least 50% complete.
The best interview questions will tell you a story about the person behind the resume. These questions are designed to reveal their habits, lifestyle, personality, knowledge, strengths, weaknesses, skills and abilities.
Interview questions should also benefit the job seeker and provide them with a chance to speak on details that don’t fit on one or two sheets of paper.
Today’s savvy interviewer will always include interview questions tailored specifically to the company and position. This list of the 10 best questions works across various industries and job descriptions.
Other Important Interview Questions to Consider Asking
In my experience, many hiring processes and interviews don’t ask questions that require enough thought or sincere answers. By asking the right questions during the interview you set the pace and demand more than the ordinary well-rehearsed answer.
Among the 10 best questions that help managers hire great employees are questions that are more directly associated with the specific needs to certain companies or job descriptions.
You might want to include questions such as:
Why are they leaving their current job? What is the candidate’s ideal work environment? Does the candidate work best alone or on a team?
Then, of course, there are other questions that are more suitable for certain instances, such as:
- Will your candidate need to relocate if they are chosen for the position?
- Are they open to traveling if required?
- Can they work long hours, overtime, holidays and weekends?
These questions can also build from the 10 questions and can also be formatted in such as way that appears organic as opposed to rehearsed.
The companies with the highest success employ the right talent quite often. In hiring the right talent, successful employers like to pinpoint specific questions that make it clear whether or not the candidate would be an ideal fit.
The best interview questions should make even the hiring manager think.
Interview questions should be challenging and should be harder for interviewees to prepare for. These questions are designed to reveal the most the most about your candidate and in the shortest amount of time.
I have often asked managers from different walks of life about their “go to” interview questions and why they are so important. Of the hundred or so questions I’ve found a common theme.
Here’s what I picked up:
- Most avoid easy-to-practice questions.
- Most avoid asking the same questions that were asked during the job application.
- Most ask questions that are open for two-way input and response so that interviews are conversations rather than interrogations. This is neat because it allows you more opportunity to excite the candidate about the job they are applying for.
While the job seeker is on the nerve-wracking end of the table, job interviews can inspire some level of anxiety in managers as well. Asking the right questions with allow you to really hone in on the best candidate for the opening.
Common Interview Questions to Avoid Asking Qualified Candidates
One last thing to keep in mind. In the same manner, it’s important to ask the right questions, avoid interrogating candidates and instead you should get them excited about the job! This carries the same importance as to why you should avoid common interview questions that some candidates might even repulse.
- Describe yourself.
- What are your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
- Why do you want to leave your current company?
- Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
- Discuss your resume.
- Discuss your educational background.
- Tell me how you handled a difficult situation.
- Why are you looking for a new job?
- What are your salary requirements?
- Who are our competitors?
- What was your biggest failure? Regret?
- What motivates you?
- What is your availability?
- Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss.
- How do you handle pressure?
- What is the name of our CEO?
- What are your career goals?
- What are your hobbies?
- What makes you uncomfortable?
- What questions have I not asked you?
These common questions should be reworded. If not avoided, they should be asked in the context of a conversation instead of the focus of the interview. The interviewer can practice and rehearse while not seeming as if that were the case.
While there are plenty of tips for interviewers you’ll want to keep these tips in your repertoire to get the most information out of that short conversation.
Remember these 20 interview questions to ask, and you’re much more likely to hire the best people for the job.
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