Ask the right questions of a job candidate

Job interview questions should help you to get to know the candidate and how they will fit in with your company. You want to know more about a person than just their skills and whether they meet the job requirements. You want to know if a candidate will fit in with your company’s culture and what things are important to that person. There are many strategies you can use when coming up with job interview questions that will help you to find the right person for the position.

Previous Job Experiences
Finding out how a candidate handled his previous positions will give you insight into how they will approach a job with your company. Here are some good questions you can ask about previous job experiences that will give insight into the skills, personality, and character of job candidates:

  • What were your responsibilities in your previous job?
  • What is a project you recently worked on, and how did you contribute?
  • How does your experience relate to this company?
  • What aspects of your work do you like? Which do you dislike?
  • What will I hear when I call your references?

These questions work to uncover the actual work experiences of candidates, beyond simply their resumes. Finding out what tasks they liked and disliked about previous positions allows you to compare their preferences to the primary responsibilities they would have at your company, so you know if it’s a good fit. If the position includes some things a candidate likes but focuses more on tasks he or she dislikes, it might not be a good fit. Further, asking about references shows that you are serious about checking references.

Meeting Problems
Finding out how a person deals with problems and conflicts will tell you a lot about their personality, and give insights into how they’ll contribute to your team and mesh or clash with other workers. Try some of these questions:

  • What is a specific problem that arose in a previous job, and how did you come up with a solution?
  • Describe a supervisor you didn’t like: What aspects of their work style clashed with you, and how did you handle it?

Asking about specific problems applicants have solved allows you to get a closer look at their problem-solving skills and decision-making ability. By asking about previous supervisors, you find out more about their working style, as well as how they handle conflict in the workplace.

Recent Activities
Finding out what a person has been doing in a more recent time frame is helpful in determining how relevant their experiences are. If someone’s experience comes from things they did a long time ago, they might be further behind on advances in the industry. Find out how people have kept up and how they’ve approached the job search:

  • What have you done recently to improve your job skills?
  • Why did you apply for this job?
  • What do you do in your spare time?

Finding out what candidates do in their spare time might seem odd, but it gives good insight into someone’s personality. A candidate with a well-balanced life will be able to answer immediately with hobbies and interests, but those with one-dimensional lives will struggle to answer. It’s a good clue into how potential new employees will fit in with the existing team.

You want to ask job interview questions that let you get to know the candidate, finding out about who they are as a person beyond their resume. Learn about their interests, their personality styles, and how they think. An employee is an investment, and you should find the person who is the best fit for your needs.

This article originally appeared at and is reprinted with permission.

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