interview questions

Some interview questions are so effective they are the foundation of all interviews that most employers ask. 

You may not have done much hiring before and while you can google a standard set of interview questions, the real skill is in interpreting the answers to those questions.  So, I’m going to share how to ask meaningful effective interview questions and therefore help you understand your candidate better. 

1. Tell me about yourself and a brief work history.  

First, pay attention to what the candidate highlights when they are talking about their work experience.  Look out for the areas that they discuss most and it is a great opportunity to ask more about why it is important. This is where they show you what they excelled in.  Why? Most of us love to talk about what we are great at right? It is no different in an interview.  So, when they talk about their work history, take the time to ask for examples of what they did.  In other words, you want to hear them explain not just repeat what the resume says and give clear examples of the work they did. 

2.Describe the 2 most challenging projects you’ve done? What was the challenging part about it? How did you handle it?  

In this effective question, you will be able to see what the candidate considers to be challenging and what their level of difficulty is.  You will be able to see what they consider their weaknesses are and how they react to difficult situations.Use this opportunity to ask them follow-up questions. For example, how did they come to that decision and why or what they would do different. 

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3. What are you 3 biggest strengths? What are your 3 most worrisome weaknesses? 

First, make sure to write down the strengths and skills you need for your particular job you’re hiring for before interviewing. So, the goal in this question is to see what they consider strengths and weakness for them and then evaluate how that fits into the job and responsibilities you are looking at hiring. Remember, the type of skills needed vary by job, so have your needed skills handy. 

During their response, you want to look out for those individuals that are overconfident- if they are bragging, and those under confident- if they are hesitant in their answers.   Also, if they do not mention any of the skills  on your list that you need it is a great indication that they may not clearly understand the required skill set and are not fit for the job. Next, ask them questions to elaborate when they are talking about their skills so you can see if they understand the difference and importance of them. 

Hard Skills:    Hard skills are tangible skills that are required for a job. So these usually have an expertise associated with it through training or education so they can be measured.      

Some examples:  

  • Writing
  • Computer Technology (Office equipment & software) 
  • Spelling  
  • Mathematics 
  • Accounting 
  • Web Design 
  • Construction 

Soft Skills:    Soft skills are intangible skills that show an individual’s characteristics and personality.  As a result, they are not easy to measure but are SO important.  

  • Leadership  
  • Problem-solving 
  • Flexibility 
  • Empathy 
  • Creativity 
  • Adaptability
  • Integrity    

Examples of weaknesses:  

  • Perfectionist 
  • Focus too much on the details 
  • Lacking patience 
  • Has trouble asking for help 

4. What do you think this job requires?    

This effective interview question also helps with understanding their level of expertise and understanding of the job. When I have interviewed candidates in the past this question is where my instinct tells me if they are right for the job or not.  Why? They need to know the level of work, expertise and time to get the job done! Therefore, ask them for examples of actions they took and the results they accomplished when they are talking about what the job requires. 

Most important to look for someone that can explain what you are looking for, especially look for the strengths and keywords that you have in your job description. Likewise look for those individuals that are able to give you those clear references or can give you examples associating what it takes to fulfill that job. 

5. Why do you want this job and why should I hire you over other candidates?  Why should I not hire you?  

First, when listening you want to look for someone that will tell you more than a canned rehearsed answers straight from their resume.  Next, look for someone that will tell you what makes THEM DIFFERENT, beyond the work experience you’ve talked about already.   As a result, look for enthusiasm when they are talking about why they want to work for you. After all, you want someone that will enjoy working for your company! 

Next, for the NOT hiring part of the question, this is a curve ball question for sure for some candidates!   Look for honesty in their response about why you shouldn’t hire them.  However, watch out for negativity or someone that completely ignores that part of the question. 
That is to say,  you want to look for a candidate that approaches this question with honesty.  For example, an “I don’t believe there is any reason not to hire me” and they go on to display their positive characteristics is a fantastic example of a great answer. So, when they mention a weakness but then proceed to tell you how they are making it a strength it is a great answer as well. 

These effective questions are a great foundation to get the conversation started in an interview.   

Finally, remember by asking these effective interview questions they will help you identify how well that candidate fits the job position you are hiring for.  Start with debunking hiring myths and based on the answers given, they give you the opportunity to ask the candidate additional follow-up questions.  In short, interpreting their answers and skill level will help you see which hire is the right one for your business. 

Happy Hiring!