February 18, 2020 4:53 PM
As a hiring manager or recruiter, you’re always on the lookout for the ideal candidate. In your job description, you sketch a success profile of what qualities and skill sets this person should possess. When you sift through online job board applications and LinkedIn profiles, you narrow down your job candidate pool based on who seems to match that profile and who doesn’t.
But who makes the cut when you’ve got several ideal candidates in the pipeline? It really boils down to what types of interview questions you ask job seekers — and how they respond. I’ve listed five common types of interview questions, and included examples that you can use in your own interviews, too.
Oh, and look out for my favorite interview question below (hint: It involves some play!).
There are a million ways to categorize interview questions, but I like to keep it simple and break them up into five main types:
While it’s important to ask each type of question to find the most qualified candidates, the goal isn’t to exhaust your list of questions. Try instead to get into a conversational flow with the candidate.
The most important part of an interview is to get a realistic glimpse of how they might interact outside of the interview process, which is the best way to determine if they’ll be a good fit for your work environment.
Now, let’s jump into these questions.
Behavioral interview questions are used to measure someone’s past work experience to get an idea of how they might perform in the future.
Here’s some examples of common behavioral interview questions I’ve used a lot:
Do any of those ring a bell? Most job seekers train for behavioral interviewing types of questions using the S.T.A.R. method. Although the acronym is designed for the job seeker, it helps to know what it means so you as the hiring manager know what interview answers to expect:
The S.T.A.R. method is like the exposition of a story. If your candidate doesn’t provide adequate context and details with their answers, you’ll get an incomplete idea of the candidate’s performance. I don’t like to mark off people too quickly, but if they struggle to give you a thorough answer, it’s an indicator that they might not be a good fit.
Experience-related interview questions are just what they sound like: questions used to ask about a candidate’s experience in past roles. There’s no right answers or wrong answers, really. They’re just great leading questions because they allow the candidate to elaborate on their past job experience, which helps you determine how well they fit into your ideal professional profile.
Here are some common interview questions I like to use to get an idea of someone’s experience:
The experience-based questions almost overlap with the behavioral questions, but they’re asking for different things. Experience-based questions are designed to see where a candidate comes from. Questions about their first job or work history are ideal and expected.
Situational interview questions ask job candidates hypothetical questions to see how they might respond in a real-life scenario. It’s a great way to see how someone ticks, and it can tell you a lot about their tendencies, like whether or not they’ll be a good team player.
Here are some situational interview questions I like to use:
One tip with these is to interlace your interview with situational questions rather than asking them all at once. You’ll get a more honest and true response when they aren’t expecting a litany of hypothetical questions. It also forces them to think through difficult situations without much time to process, which shows how well they adapt and think on their feet.
Non-directive interview questions are the nice, easy ones that give the candidate a moment to talk about themselves. Your questions should encourage them to talk openly so you can get a basic sense of their personality traits, career goals, and work ethic.
Here are some great non-directive questions I like to ask in interviews:
It’s OK if they briefly discuss their personal life, like their hobbies and interests, too. The point of non-direct interviews is to let the candidate “lead” the conversation — just make sure you keep it from completely derailing.
These could be labeled “curveball” questions, but I really like to bookend my interviews with nonsense questions just to keep things light and fun. These aren’t the most common interview questions, as it doesn’t fit everyone’s style, but I think they’re worth asking to see if the candidate has a sense of playfulness.
Here are a few I’ve used before (#3 is my all-time favorite):
Some of these have the potential to be actual brain teasers, but it’s really a fun part of the hiring process. The only good answer is a truthful (or funny) one, so make sure the candidate knows you’re just having fun with them.
Throughout an interview process, you’re trying to assess, “Who is this person really like?” It can be difficult to get an accurate representation through a candidate’s direct answers. Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to ask candidates about their past colleagues, and what they might say about them. It puts the candidate in a more objective point of view.
Remember: You want to improve the hiring process without hindering retention. It’s crucial that you thoroughly vet your candidates in their job interview so you can hire someone that fits neatly into that success profile you sketched out in your job description. Look for authentic candidates that are equally invested in their career goals and your company — you can’t go wrong.
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