The dreaded job interview is probably up there with going to the dentist and getting a flu vaccination on most people’s list of fun things to do. After all, there’s a reason why interviewing tips tend to dominate careers sections in any number of publications We know it’s rough for the interviewee, but it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows for the interviewer either. Handling one in-depth interview after another can quickly become exhausting, and getting disappointing answers from yet another promising candidate doesn’t do wonders for morale after half a dozen people have been through your doors. It doesn’t have to be like this.
There’s certainly a lot of effort expended in helping job-seekers ace tough questions, but there isn’t nearly enough focus on why particular questions continue to be asked in the first place. A successful interview requires as much effort from the interviewer as it does from the candidate, and as Forbes’, Lindsay Westly, once pointed out, a bad question can stop an otherwise great interview dead in its tracks. Want to make interviewing more enjoyable for both parties? Start by analyzing the questions you ask.
1) Think about what you’re trying to learn from a question before you ask it
A question like, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” is always a red light for an interviewee. It shifts the focus of the discussion away from their passions and their potential contributions to the organization, and instead, moves it toward the murky grey area that is their future.
When you ask this question, what you really want to know is how passionate they’ll be about the role and how much they’re looking to grow their skills. Many of us are passionate about what we do, but we don’t necessarily plan out our career in a year long chunks. Instead of asking where they think they’ll be, get them to tell you where they want to take your company.
2) Don’t set yourself up for disappointment
Employers often like to toss out questions that invariably have no good answer. They’re used more as a kind of test to see just how clever an answer the candidate can come up with. While these kinds of questions do offer interviewees a chance to exhibit quick thinking, they can also expose weaknesses without giving the person a chance to offer up a counter positive. As an interviewer, you want to go away from the discussion with a relatively full picture of a person’s capabilities and shortcomings. By focusing too much on the negative, and primarily looking for them to avoid bad answers, you’ll inevitably end up with an incomplete profile. Give them opportunities to shine and show you how they can remedy tough situations instead of asking them for something you don’t expect them to have in the first place.
3) Avoid the obtuse
An interview is more than just a test, it’s a dialogue that evolves naturally as any other conversation would. And just like when you’re conversing with someone, it pays to be direct. The modern interviewing lexicon contains a lot of well-worn and well-known “trick” questions that ask candidates for one thing but really expect another. It’s a game that everybody’s heard of, and everyone is always trying to learn how to play it better. Instead of playing games with your interviewee, however, work to establish a sense of trust that will invite open dialogue rather than canned responses.
Instead of asking someone who their worst boss was, for example, ask them what kind of management styles they feel they respond best to and why. You might find that you get far more in-depth and illuminating responses, since honest questions tend to beget honest answers.
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