Interviewing candidates for a job is about more than just asking questions – it’s also about knowing what answers you should be listening out for. While everyone has their own approach to screening potential employees, there are a few key topics to broach along the way. Here are our top five must-ask interview questions – and responses you should be looking out for.
1. What are your career aspirations?
When interviewing candidates for a role at your company, especially recent graduates, you want to make sure that the person you’re hiring has given some thought to the kind of career they want. This will minimise the risk of new recruits leaving you high and dry after just a few months if they realise it’s not what they want – forcing you to spend valuable time and resources on repeating the interview process.
2. If you could change one thing about your current position to make it your ideal job, what would it be?
This question will help you predict whether a candidate is suited to the position and the cultural fit of your workplace. They might say that their current work environment is too fast-paced, or hierarchical. If the role in question requires someone quick on their feet and they have more than a few senior team members to answer to, this position might not be the right fit for the applicant – and vice versa.
3. What achievement are you most proud of?
Of all interview questions, this is one of the most powerful. The candidate’s response will not only reflect their level of confidence and self-awareness, but can also lead to a range of follow-up questions about their personality, their ability to work in a team, and their approach to dealing with challenges. Discussing a rewarding experience will also help the interviewee calm their nerves and settle in.
4. Give me an example of a time you failed to meet a deadline and what you did to get yourself back on track?
Every employee has encountered setbacks at one point or another. However, it’s people who are aware of their mistakes and committed to resolving problems efficiently and responsibly that will be an asset to your team. The right candidate will show that they care about their performance, but also understand that challenges like this are a part of any role and it’s their response that matters most. This question also gives you a glimpse of their problem-solving skills in action.
5. If I were to interview your colleagues, how would they describe you?
A refreshing alternative to the age-old question about a person’s perceived strengths and weaknesses, this one will give you insight into what kind of character sits in front of you. However, since no one willingly puts themselves in the line of fire by sharing unpleasant things about themselves, reading between the lines is key. Questions you should be asking yourself are: How does the applicant portray her/himself? What does the answer reveal about their self-perception? How does it resonate with my company’s values?