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6 Common Interview Questions and the Power They Unleash

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6 Common Interview Questions and the Power They UnleashFor both interviewer and interviewee, interviews are tough.

The parties involved are trying to put their best face on—whether positioning their company as a place worthy of great talent, or great talent worthy of being hired.

Both employer and candidate are looking to ensure a “best fit” for one another too. So without a defined interview strategy, you could be sending top talent out of the door and into the welcoming arms of competition.

On the matter of interviews…

  • 33% of bosses claim to know whether they’ll hire a candidate within the first 90 seconds of an interview. (Source)
  • On average, every corporate job offer receives 250 resumes. (Source)
  • Nearly 50% of applicants have no prior experience with your brand. The interview will be the first time they gain exposure. (Source)

And, most important to consider:

The five things interviewees take into consideration before accepting a job offer are:

  1. Salary/Compensation
  2. Career Development
  3. Work-Life Balance
  4. Location/Commute (the only one organizations cannot control)
  5. Company Culture/Values (Source)

Developing interview questions that provide insight into a candidate’s history, skills, principles, and outlook while answering these five pressing concerns is possible. In fact, common interview questions can be tailored to address these five considerations and gain insight into a candidate’s likelihood of success.

Below, we’ll give you some tips to make sure you’re hiring best-fits for your organization.

Tell me a little about yourself…

A little goes a long way. This open-ended question is underutilized in many interviews, but gives insight into candidates (all 250!). Are they athletic? A couch-potato? Do they write poetry? Perform with a band?

Are these answers valuable information? Of course!

Passionate candidates are exactly the kind you want. They run with ideas. They explore their talents. They know what they like and use it to keep themselves happy and satisfied. If some of their passion can be absorbed into the role, you will build a bridge from extracurricular passion to organizational rewards.

If your company takes part in Tough Mudder events and your candidate prefers playing video games, this doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t fit within your culture. Fitting in with company culture, however, is extremely important to a candidate’s happiness within the role.

Candidates who have a difficult time discussing who they are could be humble, or they might lack motivation.

This is a good place to inject how your company respects the lives of its employees and encourages a healthy/active/artistic lifestyle. A work-life balance and culture/value double-whammy!

What are some goals you want to achieve?

Especially if left unsatisfied with a candidate’s answer detailing themselves, giving a more “guided question” pokes into their abilities and passions. Replace this question’s “some” with a numeric value: 1,2,3, to direct and control response.

Unlimited answers to this question exist, and it’s up to you to determine how responses shape the candidate’s potential to help the organization grow.

Has there been a time when…

I left this one open-ended because this question can be molded to fit your needs. For instance, it might conclude with:

  • you faced a problem too large to handle?
  • you managed a difficult situation?
  • you were acclaimed for a successful project?

And those examples are just a drop in the bucket. Follow-up with a simple “How did you respond?” to further gauge a candidate’s problem-solving ability. Likewise, you’ll gain important insight into their history of responsibility, how they succeeded (or failed) in that role, and how they respond/react in difficult situations.

What skills from previous employment best transfer into this role?

You might find that your candidate is an expert in the software your company uses (making training a little easier).

”Isn’t this on their resume?”

It should be. But one-page typically isn’t enough to capture the full scope of proficiencies. Use this question to dig into a candidate’s skills. Ask for situations in which these programs and/or proficiencies were used. Do they align with the role?

This question bridges the candidate’s work experiences then-to-now. The answer gives insight into what they found valuable, what skills they’ve held on to, and what they were trained to do.

What in particular excites you about this role?

This question is great for future reference (meaning: document your interviews and hold on to the notes!) Candidates might interpret this as a “gotcha!” question, but what you’re really after are the embers of passion burning inside them.

So you find out the candidate is most excited about working with HR. Interesting…

Transparency here goes a long way. As an interviewer, mention that your organization is always looking to develop employees for long-term growth. You could mention that an employee’s interest(s) in gaining certain skills plays a large role in their career development path.

Of course, only say this if it’s true.

Tuck back the curtain and give the candidate a peek inside. They’ll appreciate that you care to keep employees learning, engaged, and advancing throughout their careers.

What’s your favorite movie? Book? What music do you listen to?

This is known as a “pattern disrupt” question. If you feel a candidate is guarded—too professional for their own good—ask this question and have them ease up.

Sometimes it’s hard for candidates to relax and speak about themselves. But in matters of interest, people are more willing to voice their opinions.

Answers to this question are all-over-the-place. You might find that you and the candidate have a favorite band in common, or watch the same documentaries. Understand if/how answers conform with company culture.

Useful Interviewing Tips

  • Asking about salary history is risky. And in some states, illegal. Candidates think you’re trying to get the upper-hand, which may-or-may-not be true. Either way, it leaves a poor taste in their mouth.

    Speak openly about the salary as it pertains to the role. If starting pay is a little low, but there are incredible opportunities for advancement, mention it! The candidate respects your transparency instead of shining the proverbial spotlight on them.

  • Tell the interviewee about the company as a whole: whether the history or as it stands today. What were the founding principles? What was/were the problem(s) the company solved? What new problems has the company found? How does it plan to solve them?

    Add a human-element to your business. Recall how 50% of your candidates have no prior experience with the company? Here’s the time to introduce it!

    If principles align, the candidate will be chomping at the bit to work for you!

  • Allow the interviewee to ask you questions. A good interview turns great when it’s less “question-and-answer” and more “conversational.” Be prepared to speak to your role or a day-in-the-life of their employment. If they don’t ask these questions but seem like a good fit, tell them about a typical day at work.

    Have the candidate envision the role—especially if you’ve decided to hire them after 90 seconds, to prepare them for the onboarding process.

Introducing Balance Point Human Resources (BPHR)

Could your interview process benefit from some pointers? Balance Point recently unveiled BPHR, a human resources consulting service that ensures compliance, allowing you to focus on your business’ strategic growth. Learn more about BPHR here.

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