How to Ask Good Interview Questions

The purpose of this document is to give you a few simple guidelines so you can gain insight on candidates.  Each person is different, so the points made should not be considered absolute rules.

It is recommended that you have a list, and ask each candidate the same questions.  In initial phone calls, a good idea is to call several people at one sitting, and make notes as you go.  That way you will be able to make one-on-one comparisons, and make efficient use of your time.

Be aware that a candidate’s interest level starts at zero, and builds up during the call from a recruiter.  If the initial contact with the employer is not established within a day or two, the candidate starts to lose interest, and may actually have less interest than before the initial call.  Keep them moving up in interest by contacting them efficiently.

MEETING THE CANDIDATE

At the start, be friendly, but avoid prolonged small talk.  Your time costs money, and so does theirs.

Tell them your name and title.  Mention that you learned of them from Composites Sources.  That will help them to remember the specifics of the opportunity.  We almost never send a resume or give contact information without first telling them about the opportunity, the name of the employer and establishing their interest.

Tell them you will be taking notes.

Tell them that all information will be treated in strict confidence.  This means you can’t talk to your buddy who works for his employer, and find out what is going on.  Don’t laugh.  People actually do this.

QUESTIONS

Ask questions in a conversational tone, but make them clear and concise.  Having a list will help here.

Ask open-ended questions which will require in depth answers.  “Why do you say that?” (When, where, who, what, how, and why.  Note that each of these questions asks for facts, except the last that asks for an opinion.)

ANALYZING

Work toward learning the candidate’s goals.  Draw them out, but keep the conversation balanced.  You want to decide if they are the person for the job, but you also want them to accept if you make an offer.

Avoid snap judgments.  A very nervous person may have all the skills you need, but come across stiff and not confident.

QUESTIONS TO ASK AND WHY YOU SHOULD ASK THEM

As you talk with the person, ask yourself what they are telling you about themselves.  The questions below will help you to do so in several categories.

 

1. TO LEARN ABOUT ATTITUDE . . .

ASK YOURSELF. . .

  1. Able to compete without aggravation?
  2. Bounces back easily?
  3. Leads a balanced life between self and company?
  4. Are they loyal?
  5. Are they a team player?

ASK THE CANDIDATE . . .

  1. Ever lose in competition? How did you feel?
  2. Have you ever been unsure you could provide for family?
  3. Are you a success in life thus far?
  4. Best boss? Describe them.
  5. How do you handle criticism?

 

2. TO LEARN ABOUT MOTIVATION . . .

ASK YOURSELF. . .

  1. Settled in work choice?
  2. Have good plans?
  3. Willing to work for goals?
  4. Works by choice or when required?
  5. Can overcome opposition?

ASK THE CANDIDATE . . .

  1. How does spouse feel about career choice?
  2. When and how did you decide on career choice?
  3. What debts you owe?
  4. How will this position help you reach your goals?

 

3. TO LEARN ABOUT INITIATIVE . . .

ASK YOURSELF. . .

  1. Self-starter?
  2. Finishes own tasks?
  3. Follows through?
  4. Follows directions without changing to suit himself?
  5. Works independently?
  6. Prefers to work alone or in groups?

ASK THE CANDIDATE . . .

  1. Why did you get into the composites industry?
  2. Like most/least about composites business?
  3. When have you felt like giving up?  Describe.

 

4. TO LEARN ABOUT STABILITY . . .

ASK YOURSELF. . .

  1. Excitable or even tempered?
  2. Impatient or understanding?
  3. Uses words that show strong feelings?
  4. Poised or compulsive? Controlled or erratic?
  5. Grows or quits under pressure?
  6. Enthusiastic about job?

ASK THE CANDIDATE . . .

  1. What disturbs you most?
  2. How do you get along with difficult people?
  3. What customer actions irritate you?
  4. Most pleasant/unpleasant work experiences?
  5. What do you admire about your coworkers?
  6. What do people do that irritates other people?

 

5. TO LEARN ABOUT PLANNING . . .

ASK YOURSELF. . .

  1. Able to plan and follow through or needs direction?
  2. Can coordinate with others?
  3. Can think of ways to improve methods?
  4. See whole job or caught up in details?

ASK THE CANDIDATE . . .

  1. What part of your work do you like least/most?
  2. What part is most difficult for you?
  3. How do you spend a typical day?
  4. Where do you want to be five years from now?
  5. If you were the Manager, how would you change your current job?
  6. How do planned and unplanned work compare?

 

6. TO LEARN ABOUT INSIGHT . . .

ASK YOURSELF. . .

  1. Do you make a realistic self-appraisal?
  2. Do they want to improve themselves?
  3. Are they interested in others’ problems?
  4. Are they interested in how others react to them?
  5. Can they take criticism?

ASK THE CANDIDATE . . .

  1. What are your strengths/weaknesses?
  2. How do you feel about your weaknesses?  Are they important enough to make changes?
  3. How would you rate your last boss/employer?
  4. What is the most/least valuable criticism you have received?  Who gave it to you?  Tell me about it?
  5. How do you manage fault finders?

 

7. TO LEARN ABOUT SOCIAL SKILLS . . .

ASK YOURSELF. . .

  1. Are they a leader or a follower?
  2. Are they interested in new ways to deal with people?
  3. What types of people they get along with best?

ASK THE CANDIDATE. . .

  1. What do you do in your spare time?
  2. Have you ever organized or led a group?  Describe the situation?
  3. What methods are effective/ineffective in dealing with people?
  4. What kind of people do you get along with best?
  5. Do you prefer keeping old friends or making new ones?
  6. How would you go about making a friend?
  7. What do you have to do to be liked by others?