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Career Resources, Information and News

10 Questions You Should Ask Every Job Candidate

Posted by Lori on February 4, 2010

We spend lots of time discussing how to portray ourselves in the best possible light when we are on the job hunt, but we do not give much attention to what is happening on the other side of the desk. I came across a great article by Russell Rindeau from East Wing Search Group that gives hiring managers a whole new list of questions to spring on unsuspecting job seekers. If you do not think that this article applies to you, please reconsider your stance. We must first understand the question, as well as the rationale behind it, to give a definitive answer. College students could be asked similar questions by professors, potential mentors, or companies in search of interns. It is always a good idea to be ready by formulating the answers before sitting in the hot seat at an interview. Here’s the article in its entirety:

10 Clever Questions You Should Ask Every Job Candidate

by Russell Riendeau Tuesday Jan 26, 2010

Traditional interview questions oriented around performance, duties and responsibility are important, but the answers often obscure a person’s commitment or emotional intelligence required for the job. By asking new questions, you’ll be amazed at what you can find out. The findings can help you make better hiring decisions, lower turnover and significantly reduce your hiring costs.

Here are behavioral-based, legal-friendly questions designed to flush out deeper and more complex behaviors and thinking patterns of a candidate for hire.

What would really surprise me about you? What else?

This question allows candidates to reveal a different side of themselves. Look for confidence, willingness and candor. The second question (“What else?”) gives the candidate another chance to reveal more if they gave a conservative first response.

What’s your real motivation to change jobs? No, the real reason?

Look for motives other than money — money is rarely the real reason. See if the candidate places blame, is “seeking asylum” elsewhere, or can’t handle the pressure, the boss or the pace. These are signs of immaturity, poor-decision making skills or lack of true selling ability. Ask the question to see if you’re hearing the whole story.

What’s your philosophy on goal setting?

The more detailed answer you get, the more you’ll see if the candidate values setting and achieving goals. Ask for examples of goals they have set and how they measured them. A blend of intrinsic and extrinsic goals will show emotional balance and another sign of maturity in prioritizing ability.

What reading material would I find on your coffee table, nightstand or kitchen table

The answer to this question will show intellect, curiosity, variety of interests, breath of life experience, dedication to learning, or lack of these traits. The candidate’s response will give insights as to how well he or she follows your industry and field of work.

Tell me a story about when you were placed in an ethical dilemma and what happened?

This question reveals morals, ethics, integrity and problem-solving skills. If the candidate places blame on others, it may indicate tendencies towards poor judgment, unrealistic attitudes, non-genuine or secretive personality.

How did you earn money while in college?

This question offers a good indicator of the candidate’s entrepreneurial skills. If they ran a formal or informal business in college, they are most likely resourceful, driven, have strong social skills and street smarts. These candidates tend to be good at sales, marketing, customer service or other roles that require proactive behaviors.

Draw me a pie chart showing how you spend an eight-hour day.

Watch for organization, clear communications and accurate calculations. Their response shows you their presentation and communication skills. Are those skills in line with what you need?

What’s your favorite success story and failure story?

A person willing to share failures tends to be self-confident, mature and has a sense of true self and place in the world. In success stories, look for credit given to team effort and personal drive in relation to goal setting. Bragging of solo efforts may suggest arrogance, inflated sense of self, lack of self-confidence or lack of interest in being a team player.

Do you want to be a millionaire? Why? What are you doing to prepare for it?

Look for an overall balanced approach to wealth and lifestyle choice and for consistency relative to other questions around goal setting. Does the candidate have a valid, compelling motive for a yes or no to wealth accumulation?

Have you ever created a 30, 60, 90-day strategic plan?

If the candidate has created strategic plans, how many months were they required to plan out into the future? Is this commensurate with the requirements of position you’re offering? Ask about a specific plan and watch for ability to articulate and define time frames and goals. Many people can speak about planning, so ask candidate to illustrate the plan using visual aids, graphs, charts, etc.

Dennis Kleper, an executive coach and chairman of TKO/BIG, contributed to this article. Russell Riendeau is senior partner of East Wing Search Group, an executive search firm.

2 Responses to “10 Questions You Should Ask Every Job Candidate”

  1. The most comprehensive info I have found on this subject on the net. Will be back soon to follow up.

  2. 😉

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