How To Get The Most Out of a Candidate in 1 Question

How To Get The Most Out of a Candidate in 1 Question

February 20, 2019 Recruitment

We have all been there – the candidate who “wows” us with their charisma, who impresses us with their technical expertise or has worked for such an impressive range of businesses they must know something that we don’t! We fall in love with them, take a massive leap of faith to bring them into our well-formed teams only to find out within the first six months that we have made a hiring mistake.

The cost to our business? Research tells us that the cost of a bad or poor hire will range anywhere from 150% – 300% of a candidate’s base salary, however as we all know, if they we put someone into a sales or customer facing role the cost can be significantly more.

We are often asked what the best interview questions are to help make sure that we are choosing a high-quality candidate, but first, I want to share with you three important tips when it comes to interview questions:

Tip #1: You can ask the best interview questions in the world however it is knowing what to look for in a great answer that makes all the difference.

Tip #2: There are questions within questions. Being able to listen to what a candidate is saying and using your skill and judgement to ask the right probing questions can be the difference between obtaining really insightful information and getting a “textbook” response that is really quite useless.

Tip #3: Make sure you plan out your interview questions in advance, and make sure they are a good mix of technical skill assessment along with behavioural questions. This way you will get a balanced assessment of the candidate’s ability to perform the role, combined with an understanding of how they will act in their role.

But when push comes to shove, what is really the best interview question you can ask?

What has been your biggest accomplishment in your career to date?

This question is so valuable as it opens the door to asking a whole range of follow up questions that will provide significant insight into the candidate’s technical capabilities, leadership, sales or management skills, their cultural fit with your business and their attitude.

Here are some of the follow up questions you may consider asking:

  • Tell me about the most challenging aspects of this project / period?
  • If you had your time again what would you do differently to make it even more successful?
  • What did you learn during this period?
  • Who were the key stakeholders that you needed to influence during this time? How did you go about doing this?
  • What aspects of your work did you enjoy most during this time?
  • What aspects of your work did you least enjoy during this time?
  • On a 1-5 scale where 5 represents as high level of challenge and 1 represented a low level of challenge, how challenged did you feel during this time? What coping strategies did you use?

Now the trick is what to look out for in the candidate’s responses. Make sure you listen for:

  • Their attitude and how they feel as they express their answers
  • The level of ownership and accountability they take for things that went wrong
  • How they interacted, collaborated and demonstrated leadership
  • If the aspects of work culture that they responded poorly to are representative of your culture

As highlighted in tip #3, preparing for the interview before you meet with the candidate is critical and having a set of questions written down is essential to keep the interview on track. Also make sure that you use these same questions will all of the candidates you will be interviewing to ensure you can compare apples with apples.

So next time you are starting the recruitment process, make sure you take the time to sit down and reflect on the interview process and its questioning. If you are unsure of where to start, or just want some feedback on the current interview guides you use within your business, feel free to reach out to our friendly team for some advice.

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