Hiring the right person is hard. You’re trying to get to know a candidate’s past, present, and future, based on a piece of paper and some chats in which they might not even be completely honest. Since the costs of hiring the wrong person can be daunting, there’s a lot of pressure on hiring managers to get it right.
With that in mind, career coach Celia Currin asked a network of senior executives about the toughest questions they have ever asked, or been asked themselves, during an interview. Jacquelyn Smith at Business Insider compiled a full list of Currin’s findings, featuring 25 hard questions that are guaranteed to get your candidates thinking and help you figure them out. We’ve picked our own top 5 as set out below.
1. ‘How many ideas can you come up with in three minutes?’
Some of the most effective interview questions are the ones that force candidates to think on their feet. It’s highly unlikely any job seeker prepared a list of ideas to present in case this question came up, so it will show you how creative they can be on the spot. And if someone does appear to have anticipated this question, you know they’ve definitely done their homework.
2. ‘Doesn’t this seem too junior for you?’
This is a great question to gauge whether your candidate will be happy in the role. If they don’t hesitate to agree that they are in fact overqualified, chances are they won’t stick around for long. Although there’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, and any hiring manager should expect candidates to want to get ahead in their careers, it’s important to hire the right person for the role and not just the most talented candidate overall.
3. ‘What is the country’s GDP rate?’
Any question that requires a candidate to have detailed knowledge of something that’s unrelated to the job role can tell you a lot about them. Their response in general to a surprise question like this can reveal how they might deal with difficult situations on the job. Depending on what you’re looking for, having the answer, working it out on the spot, or simply telling you they don’t know could all be appropriate replies.
4. ‘What is the one question you were hoping I wouldn’t ask?’
This question adds a new dimension to the ‘what is your greatest weakness’-category. While most candidates will have prepared a perfect answer that explains why their biggest weakness is somehow a strength, they’ll have to rethink their answer to this one. By taking them away from their neatly prepared answer, you are more likely to get an honest response.
5. ‘If you could do anything without constraint, what would that be?’
You can never know for sure whether you’re hiring the right person for the job. You don’t know if they’ll be a good fit for the team, how much they will develop themselves overtime, or if they even really want to be here. To improve your chances of hiring a candidate whose goals align with yours, ask them about what they truly want to do. The answer could tell you about their ambitions, creativity, and where their true interests lie.
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