Tips for Asking the Right Interview Questions?

The Payroll Company Recruitment, Interview Questions

Asking the right questions

Garnering interest in your job is challenging enough, especially in today’s ultra-competitive marketplace. It’s harder and harder to interest potential employees and to get them to show up for an interview. Obviously, if you can manage to get them to show up, the last thing you want is to be under prepared for the interview itself. The following are some interview questions you should consider to get the most out of the interview process:

Know What You Are Looking For in a Candidate

Don’t make the mistake of asking random questions with no real objective. Instead, consider quality questions about what you are looking for in a successful candidate. Of course, knowing this is only possible if you know your core competencies Here are some prompts to help you define your right candidate:

  • What are your must-haves? These are your deal-breaker qualities. Ask candidates about these and list the must-have attributes and/or skills you simply cannot do without. If they don’t have these qualities, they are not a good fit for your job. 
  • What are your nice-to-haves? This list would be attributes or skills that a candidate might have. These are nice if they have them, but not a must-have attribute.  
  • Do you have multiple candidates? It’s a good idea to have a set standard for each attribute listed above and ask them to multiple potential candidates. For example, each attribute could be 1-3. One is low and 3 is high, etc. The candidates with the most points will be considered contenders. 
  • Do you consider attributes beyond skills? Finding the right candidate for your job isn’t just about their employable skills. It’s about their behavior, overall experience and people skills. 

Once You Know What You're Looking For, Build List of Questions

Now that you know what you are looking for, you can formulate a set of questions to help you ascertain that desired information. For example, the following will help you find out specific information about certain aspects and/or characteristics of a potential candidate:

  • Skills: Thankfully, skills can be tested and verified, which makes them a little easier to discern. You can ask to see diplomas, certificates, etc. to show proof of skill. You can also test their skills yourself. For example, if you want a new hire to be able to write, ask them for a writing sample or give them a writing test during their interview. To find out about their experience, ask them specific questions that they would only know the answer to if they actually have the experience they claim.  
  • Behavioral: The next characteristic of a candidate can be a bit harder to quantify, but not impossible. To find out how a candidate might behave in a situation, set them up with a scenario to see how they would respond. This will give you an insight into their overall behavior on the job.  
  • Unusual Questions: While asking odd, off-the-wall questions might seem counterproductive, they can actually serve a real purpose. They can help you see how a candidate will problem-solve, redirect, think on their feet, etc. Questions like, ‘what color best represents your management style?’ might seem off-the-wall, and to be fair it is, but asking it will tell you a bit about the person you are interviewing to be sure and there really is no wrong answer. You just want to see them think on their feet.  

Prepare Ahead of Time

Before you begin the interview process to fill a position, make sure you have a standard list of questions. Try not to go rogue on the process or scramble to think of questions during the interview - that means you're not paying attention or listening to the candidate. consistent. Ask each candidate the same exact questions for the same job. Otherwise, there is no fair way to effectively compare candidates if you are asking them each different questions.  And never walk into an interview cold. Make sure you review their resume - that may spark additional questions about what you see listed. 

Questions and Topics to Avoid

While there are many questions you can ask, there are some topics that could actually get you into legal trouble if you bring them up, so they are best avoided. Steer clear of the following attributes when interviewing a potential employee:

  • Age (See the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC)
  • Medical information
  • Height and weight
  • Ethnicity, race or color
  • Sex or gender
  • Citizenship
  • Religion (EEOC)
  • Disability (EEOC)
  • Marital or family status or pregnancy

Helpful tip: Employment laws vary by state, so consult your state’s guidelines for verification on any of the above topics.

Bottom Line: You Can do it, We Can Help

The interviewing process doesn’t have to be arduous. In fact, if you do it right, it can even be a little fun, finding that perfect match between a candidate and a job. If you still aren’t sure how to get started or feel overwhelmed with the prospect entirely, contact us at TPC to learn more. We are happy to handle the process for you and can save you time and money doing so. 



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