We've said it time and time again, but the hiring decisions you make can directly impact your company's bottom line, and hiring the wrong person can cost you big—up to five times their annual salary, according to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM).
The interview process is a crucial step in hiring the right person to not only adequately fulfill the duties and responsibilities of the job, but also integrate into your company's culture and work well with you and your existing employees. Make sure that you go into each interview with a game plan for the questions you will ask each candidate so that you can get a deeper understanding of their personality and character.
Some interview questions are fairly standard—"what's your greatest strength/weakness?"; "where do you see yourself in five years?" etc.—but check out our list of out-of-the-box questions to ask your next interviewee (and observe their reaction) to better gauge the not-so-obvious things not listed on the standard resume.
1. What were your least favorite tasks at your previous job and why?
Rarely does someone enjoy every single job task they are required to do. This question is not as much about discovering what they didn't like, but more about why they didn't like it and their attitude about it. Distributing newsletters to clients or employees or ordering office supplies may be mundane, menial tasks, but they can be critical to an organization's communication and operations.
If your interviewee can admit that no, they didn't enjoy the task, but they understood the value of it and ensured that it was done regardless of their personal feelings, it demonstrates that they understand the bigger picture. Having a positive attitude toward the things they didn't especially care for demonstrates maturity and professionalism.
2. Based on what you know about our company, how could you contribute in this role?
This question not only gives your interviewee an opportunity to talk about what sets them apart from the competition, but it also demonstrates how much research they've done to prepare for the interview. An individual who truly wants to work for you will take the time to learn, at the very least, basic information about your company. Plus, this shows that the candidate is self-sufficient and motivated.
3. Describe the best and worst working relationships you experienced.
This gives you an opportunity to discover the kind of working relationships your candidate prefers. Does he/she like autonomy, or do they need more guidance and direction? Do they like working in a team environment, or do they prefer to work solo? By paying close attention to their description of good/bad working relationships, you'll get clear answers, and most importantly, you'll find out how well they may fit in with your team and management style.
If you prefer self-starters that don't need a lot of direction in order to be productive, a person that needs constant guidance to stay on task, may not be a good fit for your business and company culture.
4. What motivates you?
This question allows you to find out what the candidate seeks for motivation and what entices him/her to go the extra mile. Does he/she need financial incentives? Do they prefer praise and recognition? Or, is the feeling of success enough to keep them focused and driven?
5. Describe a failure you experienced and what you learned from it?
It sounds cliche', but failure is one of the best ways that human beings learn. Giving your job candidate an opportunity to talk candidly about something they failed at and—most importantly—what they learned from it, can speak volumes about their perseverance, decision-making abilities, and integrity. If they take responsibility for their mistake instead of deferring blame to others, and talk about the ways that they grew from the mistake—either professionally or personally—then the mistake was not in vain, and they most likely have become a better employee because of it.
6. How do you compensate for or overcome your weaknesses?
A common answer for "what is your greatest weakness" is "I care too much," or "I take my work home with me," and while that may be a true weakness, there are likely other weaknesses that a candidate is not being forthcoming about. Phrasing the question slightly differently could get them to be more open about their actual weaknesses, and more importantly, the steps they take to ensure they don't become a problem.
If a job candidate struggles with time management, they're probably not going to come out and say that during an interview without an explanation, but if you give them the opportunity to describe the proactive steps that they take to overcome this weakness—such as scheduling time for answering emails, or spending the first 10 minutes of their day setting daily goals, they may jump at the opportunity to be honest with you.
There is no shortage of traditional and nontraditional interview questions that hiring managers can ask to help them choose the best candidate for their business.
What are some of your go-to interview questions?