Ask the best questions to get the information you need

Ange Connor

Conducting interviews is a crucial step in the recruitment process. The majority of the hiring decision is based on the candidate completing a successful interview. Yes, profiling and assessment and reference checks and many other tools can assist with determining the most suitable candidate but the interview is a crucial piece of the puzzle. If you interview a candidate and they don’t do well at interview they generally don’t make it to the next stages of the recruitment process. If the interview is such an important and crucial step in the hiring process, why is it that so many employers don’t invest the time in preparing the right interview questions to ask.

I work with many small to medium businesses and it never ceases to amaze me that they don’t prepare interview questions specific for the job they are recruiting for or some don’t prepare questions at all. Preparing interview questions is not only essential for ensuring you conduct a fair and discrimination free interview process, they are crucial for being able to extract the information you need to be able to make an informed decision and judgement on a candidates suitability for the job.

The stories I hear from candidates about the questions they still get asked in this day and age never ceases to astound me. Recently I heard about an interview process where one candidate was asked if she had finished having her children and another candidate was asked exactly how old they were and for how many years they intended to work before they would be retiring. And to make matters worse the interviewer prefaced the questions by stating they knew this probably wasn’t standard etiquette but….. and on they went to ask the question anyway. Indicating you know it’s probably not right to ask the question doesn’t make it any more appropriate.

If you’re not getting the information you need from an interview or if you have a track record of appointing the wrong candidate, I’d encourage you to take a good hard look at the questions you are asking to gain the information you need. Writing interview questions takes skill and expertise but the time you invest in preparing the questions will be time well spent when selecting which candidate is best suited to fill your vacancy.

Here’s my top 5 tips for preparing interview questions:

  • Write them down and put them in a template so that you can makes notes against each question based on the candidates response. If you don’t write them down you’ll never remember the questions or the candidates responses. You need to be able to go back over the questions and the responses after the interview and throughout the duration of the recruitment process
  • Your position description drives the content of your job advert; it guides what you advertise are the required skills, expertise and qualifications for the role. The position description also drives the interview questions you should be asking; focussing particularly on the key selection criteria and the key responsibilities
  • Mix up the type of interview questions you ask. Don’t simply ask all behavioural based interview questions. There are different types of interview questions you can use to assess a candidates skills and abilities; use them to your advantage
  • Prepare some interview questions and provide them to the candidate prior to the interview. For the candidate to be able to adequately answer the interview question it will require them to research and prepare. It’s interesting to see the different efforts candidates go to when presented with that situation.
  • If you are not confident in preparing the interview questions yourself, engage the services of an expert. The small investment to have a set of standard questions written (that you will always have and be able to adapt for future use) will be worthwhile and much cheaper than the time and money wasted in appointing the wrong person.

You would expect a candidate to put in the effort to prepare for an interview, to do their research about the company and come prepared with different examples to share to demonstrate their expertise. Preparing for an interview should be no different for the employer. Preparation is just as important when developing interview questions. Write the questions and then rehearse them so that in an interview the questions flow comfortably. After all, you want to impress the candidate just as much as they want to impress you.

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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