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3 Good Questions to get the Most from your Interview

As the Director of JP Smith Recruitment and HR, I am in the fortunate position that many of our clients contact me with a wide array of Recruitment and HR queries. One of the most common questions I get is, “What should I be quizzing for during the interview to get the right information?” I think we’ve all been told too many times what we are not supposed to ask during the interview, so here are three good questions to get the most from your interview.

 1. “What’s the #1 thing you can bring to the table if you get this role?”   

This is one question I always ask.  It serves not only to find out what the candidate’s perceived greatest strength is but also, it quite often indicates what their preferred task is within the organisation. It’s a very open question and can also bring about very open answers. Often candidates may reply with answers relating to teamwork and non-task oriented functions. What I particularly like about it is that it imparts the fact that this is a two-way street and if they get the role, they will be required to deliver.  “What are you bringing to the table?” – It’s a clear message that there is an expectation to produce the “goods”.

 2. “Is there anything going on in your world at the moment that could prevent you from doing an excellent job?”   

You will note that I am not asking anything specific here and I’m not probing for anything that could be considered discriminatory.  I think it’s reasonable however to ask the question to see if there is something going on that may affect performance. I’ve been amazed over the years with some of the answers I received. Such as, “Yes, I’ve just lost my licence so I will be relying on public transport for the first three months”. Depending on the role of course, this may be critical information. Keep it open ended and you might get some useful information that may not have been uncovered otherwise. The answers aren’t always negative either. I have had people come back saying that they have undertaken an MBA and are just about to graduate.

 3. “Tell me exactly what you want to have achieved at the five year mark?"  

This is particularly useful for those sorts of roles where you need someone who is organised, methodical and plans ahead. If you get an answer that is very vague and indifferent, there is the possibility that that individual isn’t mapping out their future. Conversely, if you get an answer that is extremely disciplined and sequential in its detail, you need to look at how that person is going to adapt to change. Overall though, what you are trying to find out is if this person’s goals and ambitions are in line with what you, as an employer, can deliver. If they say they want to be the CEO in five years’ time and you know that can’t happen in your type of organisation, it’s a discrepancy that needs to be addressed immediately.

There are literally hundreds of these types of questions that you can employ. But, if you keep it simple, transparent and to the point, you will get good quality information back (most of the time!). Critically however, you must then cross-reference the validity of these answers with the referees when you make contact with them. It’s absolutely essential that you ask the right questions for the right role. There is no such thing as a generic set of questions. Get specific and you’ll get specific results.  If you need assistance in developing a set of specific questions for your role and organisation, we’re here to help.

Jamie Smith

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