Much as we hate to admit it, a background screening service can’t tell you everything there is to know about a particular job candidate. While a background check reveals information like education disparities, job history and criminal activity, things like empathy and critical thinking skills won’t show up. That’s part of why interviews are so critical – just looking at a resume or a background check report only reveals part of the picture.
1. How would you make your first year at this company a success?
This question can help you gauge how knowledgeable an interviewee is about your company, as well as determine what success looks like for them. While many interviewees at least take a cursory look online to figure out the bare bones of what you do, this question helps you see how in-depth their research is. It may also help you figure out if their priorities are a fit for the position.
2. What motivates/frustrates you?
Asking these questions back to back can help you uncover how a candidate works best. For example, if they get caught up in “petty” irritations without talking about solutions, they may not be the most positive person. Learning what motivates a job candidate early on can help you determine if they’ll work well on your team. An employee who is motivated by new situations may not like a job where the work is largely the same, for example.
3. Tell me about a time that you failed, and how you dealt with it.
It’s less about the failure here, and more about how they answer the question. A job candidate who talks about making proactive steps and learning from their failures may be the better choice. This question may also help you find people who aren’t afraid to fail and can learn from their mistakes.
4. What challenges are you looking for in your next job?
This question can help you see what the candidate wants in their next job, but also, which challenges they believe they’ll face. You may wish to follow up here with a question about how they’ll deal with these challenges. Moving jobs is always hard, but finding a candidate who knows how to rise to the challenge is critical.
5. When I get in touch with your previous supervisor, what will they say your biggest weakness is?
If you’re looking for an honest answer to a question, here’s where you’ll get it. This is a fantastic way to find out how your job candidates believe that other people see them. Plus, it’s a performance-based question – a job candidate may believe they’re organized and productive, but if their supervisor never saw that side of them, then was it really there?
6. Who do you most look up to?
Finding out an interviewee’s role model can help show you what skills and personality traits they aspire to. For example, a job candidate who looks up to, say, Seth Godin is going to be very different from one who aspires to be Bill Gates.
7. What are your least favorite work-related tasks?
This simple question can help you uncover a mismatch between what the job requires and what the candidate likes. For example, if you need an office manager candidate to not just help with finances but also answer the phones, it doesn’t make sense to hire somebody who loathes a ringing telephone.
8. What would you do if you were suddenly given $100 million?/Describe an orange without saying “orange”./Why are manhole covers round?
These so-called “oddball” interview questions can actually be an important part of the hiring process. When you ask them, pay attention to how the candidate responds. By shaking up the regular interview process, you can get a feel for how quickly a job candidate can think on their feet. Really savvy interviewees will figure out a way to work your company back into their response.
Interviewing a potential job candidate is an important part of the hiring process, along with background checks and reviewing resumes. The next time you conduct an interview, try asking these questions to help uncover more great information.