Everyone knows that it is expensive to hire and train new employees – both in economic and loss-of-productivity metrics. After you’ve found candidates with the right qualifications, how do you figure out if they’re a good fit for your company? Peppering your traditional interview questions with some more creative questions, like these, is a way to get a more well-rounded sense of a candidate’s personality and work style.
Tell me something that’s true, but that almost nobody agrees with you on. This question opens up an opportunity to let a candidate be creative, and tests his ability to present and defend an unpopular position without being stubborn, hostile or offensive. It’s particularly useful if you’re looking for management candidates.
How do you make decisions? Some people like to work as a team, gathering input from others before making decisions; others like to do research themselves, and others are great on-the-spot. Whatever the demands of the position, you’re looking for a match between what you need and what your candidate brings to the table. Ask for an example, and for your candidate to walk you through his decision-making process.
How did you go about researching our company? Whether your candidate conducted internet research, got a full D&B company analysis, interviewed past or current employees, or solicited opinions from friends or social media connections, how she researched your company can tell you a lot about how she works. And if she didn’t research your company, that can tell you a lot about her level of interest in the position.
What percentage of your life do you control? This rather existential question says a lot about whether a candidate will take ownership of his work. People who believe they can make change happen and control their own destiny are more engaged workers and team members. If you’re a small company, or looking to fill positions that will work fairly independently, a candidate who embraces self-determination may be a better fit than someone who feels he just goes where life takes him (which might be more suitable for a highly-structured position with little autonomy or decision-making capacity).
What’s in the newspaper today? Sometimes, making small talk about current events can be an invaluable window into what a candidate is really like. What does she find important or interesting in the world today? Plus, if the position is one that will deal with clients, vendors, or other outside contacts, the ability to connect and relate to others on a relatively superficial social basis is an invaluable asset.
What is your greatest fear or concern about this position? A good candidate will be able to articulate a legitimate fear that will allow you to measure both his honesty about his potential weaknesses and identify areas to concentrate on if you select him for the role.
What is the last thing you’ve learned on the job? A candidate’s answer to this question can show you how curious she is, how much she explores and grows in a position, and how engaged she is in her work. Team members who constantly strive to learn and grow in their positions can contribute immensely to both the success and happiness of the organization.
Who are the biggest jerks you’ve had to deal with in life? The answers to this question will reveal how your candidate views and relates to other people. Follow up questions about how he dealt with the interactions and resolved any conflicts can give insight into how he will fit into the interpersonal dynamics of your existing team.
What parts of work drive you nuts? The parts of work that we find frustrating highlight our weaknesses, pet peeves, and ways in which we struggle. This can also give you insight into whether a candidate will fit into your specific environment; for example, if an answer is “coworkers who talk loudly on the phone” and you have an open-office concept, this employee may not be a great fit.
As you interview potential candidates, it’s important to evaluate both whether the individual’s skills and personality fit into your company’s culture and objectives. Will this person be a good asset to the growth and development of your organization? Will he or she challenge your team to excel and thrive? Take your time and focus on hiring successful, happy employees that will be with you for the long term. Good luck!
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