We've all been on the receiving end of an interview, but not all of us have had to be the one asking the questions.
Do you remember your first interview? I do. I was applying for my first ‘adult job’ out of school, and I was terrified. My palms were sweaty, I stumbled over my words, and I probably answered every question wrong because I was afraid of being myself. While many of us have shared the same experience, not all of us have had to be the one asking the questions. Being a leader means you’re in charge of finding great talent. And that’s no easy feat. (Oh and in case you were wondering, I didn’t get that job.)
Having a talent placement and recruitment firm, I have interviewed many more people than the average leader — more than 14,000 over twenty plus years. Therefore, I have a deep-rooted understanding as to what will garner the best hire. The top priority is ensuring that your applicant is a good fit for your company, but this is only achievable through asking the right questions (not more of them) to grasp their abilities to the fullest extent.
Prospective employees, especially the good ones, are difficult to come by, so it can be a little precarious to navigate an interview — particularly if you’re new to doing so. Here are three questions that you should definitely ask when interviewing for new hires.
1. “What was it like working at your previous place(s) of employment?”
This can be a great and candid way to break the ice during an interview. Watch their non-verbal communication when they answer this question. Do they shift side to side uncomfortable when recounting their experiences?
A big deal-breaker for me is when candidates speak negatively about their past employer, coworkers, and job in general. Even if you had a horrible boss and were part of a toxic culture, you should still have gratitude towards anyone that gave you a salary, health benefits, paid vacation, and a place of safe employment. This can be quite telling as to the level of professionalism that they’ll bring to your own company once hired — and what they could say about you.
2. “What makes you the most qualified person for this position?”
Although this is a popular interview question, it is still incredibly important information to know. This can help you learn how comfortable the candidate is discussing their achievements, which can also establish how confident they are presenting and selling themselves (or their ideas) in something equivalent to a boardroom setting.
Furthermore, this is an effortless way for you to determine if your candidate has the correct qualification for the position, while also learning whether they have any additional talents that may benefit your business further down the line.
3. “Where do you see yourself in 2, 5, and 10 years from now?”
Asking your interviewee where they see themselves in two, five, or even ten years is a question that I love to ask. This can give you an understanding as to whether they’re ambitious or goal-oriented, and what plans they’ve laid out for themselves and their future.
If they don’t have any goals in mind, this could signify a lack of forethought or interest in the position. It still boggles my mind when I think of some of the answers I’ve received to this question. For example, we were looking to place in a major financial corporation, and the interviewee told us that in two years what they really want to do is get into the fashion industry. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with that, but when you tell that point-blank to someone who could give you a job in a completely different company and sector, you can bet your name will be crossed off the list.
The answer to this question could mean that they might not stay with your company for long, or that they aren’t driven enough to pursue more for themselves. On the other hand, candidates with a well thought out answer know what they want from this job, and are willing to put the effort in to get it.