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10 Key Questions to Ask During Interviews

Hiring the right employees is critical for business success. Interviews are an essential part of this process, helping you gather job-related information that you typically can't find through resumes and applications alone. To be effective, prepare and ask the right questions (and avoid the ones that could land you in hot water). Here are ten key interview questions to consider:

Question #1: What did you like (and dislike) about your most recent job?

A candidate's answer to this question can help you determine whether they are a good fit for the job. Look for whether their "likes" align with the job opening and whether their "dislikes" conflict with the job and your company's culture. For example, if the candidate says that he or she disliked the fast-paced nature of their previous job and you know your work environment is fast-paced, this could be an indication that the job isn't a good fit. In these cases, ask follow up questions to help identify whether a conflict exists.

Question #2: How do you approach a task that you find challenging?

Every job has work that an employee will find challenging. You want to know how candidates will handle the challenging work to ensure it gets done. For example, some employees may engage their time management skills and tackle difficult work in the beginning of the day when they have more energy and fewer distractions.

Question #3: Can you describe a work conflict you've had with a colleague or supervisor and how you handled it?

Conflicts are bound to pop up from time to time. A candidate's answer to this question can reveal how they would likely handle similar situations working for you and whether they can work as a team player. Look for whether their responses align or conflict with your company's culture and/or practices.

Question #4: Can you discuss a time when a client or customer was unhappy with you and how you responded?

Virtually every job requires some level of service, whether it is dealing with external or internal clients (for example, colleagues in other departments). The answer to this question can give an indication of the candidate's communication skills, sense of responsibility, and customer service skills.

Question #5: Can you talk about a time you saw a business process or procedure that you thought needed improvement, what you did about it, and the result?

Ideally, business process improvement should be part of every job, from those in entry level positions up to the top executive. The answer to this question can help you determine whether the candidate sees their role as instrumental to the larger organization and whether the candidate has been proactive and successful addressing inefficiency in their past positions.

Question #6: Can you tell me about your biggest work accomplishment, how you achieved it, and why you're most proud of it?

A candidate's answer can show you a lot about what they value, what motivates them, and what type of rewards they prefer. For example, their answer may indicate they value overcoming challenges and collaborating with others to solve problems, or that they thrive on intrinsic rewards (such as a sense of achievement) or extrinsic rewards (such as a bonus).

Question #7: What skill do you currently have that you would like to improve over the next year or two? What new skill would you like to develop?

Many interviewers ask about weaknesses, but this question goes a step further. While some candidates may have canned responses to the generic question (for example, "My biggest weakness is I am a perfectionist"), they may be more reflective and candid when the question is phrased this way.

Question #8: If you are hired for this job, what will you try to accomplish first and what do you think might be an obstacle in getting there?

A candidate's answers can reveal their priorities and indicate how much they thought about the job, its challenges, and your company. Their answer can also show you what is important to them. For example, if the candidate says his or her first priority will be to meet with her colleagues to learn about what they do and their pain points, this could be an indicator that he or she values strong working relationships.

Question #9: Do you have any questions for me?

A candidates' questions can show whether they researched your company, industry, and job. Look for questions that demonstrate that the candidate put a lot of thought into the job, what your company needs, and whether having the candidate in this particular role would be a good fit for both parties.

Question #10: What is the most important thing we should remember about you when we're making our decision?

This gives candidates another opportunity to discuss the knowledge, skills and experience that can separate them from other candidates. It can also give them time to discuss any areas that may have been left uncovered during the interview process.

Conclusion:

These are just some of the questions you can ask during interviews to help make well-informed hiring decisions. When you develop your interview questions, make sure you have a full understanding of the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for success on the job.

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