Best Practices: Asking the right questions?

Share This Post:

Best Practices: Asking the right questions?

“Ask the right questions, and the answers will always reveal themselves” 

- Oprah Winfrey

Do any of these sound familiar?

  1. Please sell me this pen
  2. If you could be an animal, what would you be?
  3. Describe your personality using …
  4. How did your childhood shape your professional life?
  5. What is your 5 year plan?

Ouch, what are these types of interview questions going to reveal about a candidate? Job-relevant responses? Unbiased opinions about the answers? How much pressure do you put on a candidate without much science backing up this line of questioning?

There is definitely another way, and one that will help you assess a candidate’s suitability for hiring.  But creating the right questions can be daunting, here are a few things to remember:

The Basics

  1. Ask open ended questions: start these with what, how, why. Closed questions limit the information that you can fairly evaluate. 
  2. Get the candidate to provide you with examples from their experiences. Real experiences will give you a sense of how a candidate may handle a future situation. 
  3. Don’t ask obscure questions that are personal.

Some of our most popular questions to ask:

  1. Walk us through your resume - this makes a candidate feel welcome to share their experiences and encourages a fuller answer. 
  2. Why would you want to work for us? This shows motivation about the candidate’s intentions in joining your organization. 
  3. Share your proudest achievement.  Focuses on what value a candidate can bring to the role. 

More advanced ideas: need a bit more information?

  1. Use the STAR method to build your questions:
  • Situation - get the candidate to share a past experience.  
  • Task: understand what goal was the candidate working toward? 
  • Action: encourage the candidate to share the actions they took to address the situation.
  • Result: what was the end result of the candidate’s actions?
By approaching questions in this way you are able to understand the candidate’s world of work, their motivations, their self-awareness about the actions they take and what they learn from working. 

Here is an example of using this method for a sales representative type role:

  • Share your personal experiences of your approach to building relationships and impact with your prospects/clients/customers.  What have been the results of your approach? 
  • When handling objections from a prospect, how do you ensure that you achieve the sale? Share an example.
  • Share how you reached one of your proudest achievements in sales.
  • How do you maintain optimism in stressful times? Share a time when you had to use optimism to overcome a tough situation.  What did you do? How was the end outcome?
  • Share an example of a time when you solved a problem using creativity or innovation. What impact did this have on the company?

Does myInterview have templates of questions to choose from?

myInterview does have a variety of pre-built templates that can save you time in designing questions. 

I need help with questions and template design!

Our professional services team can assist you in building robust question templates linked to roles/competencies/skills, reach out and we will be happy to help.  

Summary: make sound hiring decisions by creating high quality questions - the hiring will be a cinch!


About the Author

Clayton Donnelly

Clayton Donnelly (Head of Professional Services) is an Industrial-Organizational Psychologist with 15 years of global assessment, hiring and talent experience. He also loves bringing the world of technology and people together through fair, robust and high-quality solutions.

Did you find this interesting? Share it with others: