Must Ask Questions To a Potential Employee in an Interview

When you are an interviewer or recruiter, the company you work for expects a certain standard from you. The people you hire would reflect on you and your ability as a recruiter.  When you hire somebody, they become a yardstick to judge how capable you are. Their failure or success would be attributed to you. Their success will lead people to believe in your judgment and thereby increasing your profile and chances of getting promotion. Whereas, when the person you hire fails, it could be pinned on you and other people might start believing it to be a reflection of your own failure. As such, recruiting the right candidate for a job opening is paramount as it not only helps your company but also helps your cause.

Ever since the advent of internet and the social media, candidates have easily been able to prepare for interviews with standard answers available for the most frequently asked questions. This possess a great dilemma for recruiters– how to discern who is genuine and who is not? So, as a recruiter, you must be open to asking ‘off the beaten path’ questions that will reveal a whole lot more about the interviewee than what he originally intended letting out. It is also important to note here that not all questions need be innovative and new, as some of the more familiar questions are also too important to ignore.  Reserve your judgment about an interviewee until you finish the entire interview process. Compiled here are some of the questions that you must ask a potential employee in an interview.


1. Why do You Want this Job?

This is an interesting question as it reveals the desire the candidate has for the job opening. Also it could possibly highlight the candidate’s enthusiasm at joining your company or institution. It distinguishes those candidates that are looking for any job and those that really want the job offered. The genuine interest and passion for the job by the candidate will in the long run make a marked difference between success and failure.

2. What Made You Want to Leave Your Previous Job?

This question could possibly reveal whether the person is a team player, what conflicts he has had and the way he handled those conflicts. The reason for leaving previous job may be due to different ideologies, different perceptions, conflicts or the fact that the previous job did not match their ambition. Anyway, it tells something about a person’s ambition and character. Of course, if a person is leaving his previous job because of conflicts, it does not necessarily mean that he will be a bad influence on your team. Try and gauge the situation and circumstances involved.

3. Were you ever asked to work in an area outside you normal competence in your previous job?

This is an important question as it shows the candidate’s adaptability. Normally, people just tend to answer either with a simple yes or in a sentence or two. Ask them to expound it more by giving examples. Ask them to explain the detail– the steps they took and so on.

3. Were you Ever Asked to Work in an Area Outside you Normal Competence in Your Previous job?

This question can surprise a few. It is intended to find out mainly the candidate’s ability to think ahead and beyond the normal conventions. It will help you to understand how ambitious and progressive minded they are. It will disclose if a candidate has done his homework about what the job entails and bout the companies’ ideologies and aspirations. You will be able to get a picture of how the candidate will fit in with your company.

5. Tell me a Couple of Your Weaknesses and Also Something Unique About Yourself?

Although people do expect to be asked this question, a lot of them still fall short when it comes to coming up with answers that are genuine. Most candidates try to minimize their flaws or try to gloss it up, which in itself is an indicator of their weakness. Remember, no one is perfect and has some flaw or the other; and a person who understands this and is prepared to own it up in an interview exhibits his strong character. To avoid getting the run-of-the-mill answer, ask them to explain how the weakness has previously affected them.

Also, ask them about their uniqueness. This will probably elicit a reply that will stand them in good stead. This is also just as important as a candidate is also supposed to know his strengths as well as weakness. Remember, too much humility is vanity just as it is bad having too much pride.

6. Do you Believe in Aliens?

Yes, you read it right. Ask the interviewee a question that he/she is completely unprepared for. Throw a curve at them and you will find more about them than what you would with normal questions. Their answer and the body language will speak volumes about their character. Their ability to ad-lib might come in handy later on and is a good testament to their ability to survive. You could also ask them question like- Why do the numbers on the phones go down while the numbers on the calculators go up? Why doesn’t the glue stick to the inside of the bottle? Ask any question that you think could surprise the interviewee- wackier the question, the better. Remember, it is not important to get the correct answer to these questions as the questions are designed to help you judge their composure, intelligence and the ability to cope and adapt.

When you do note down the questions to ask the interviewee, remember to also note down questions that you should not be asking as there are questions that are considered illegal to ask in an interview. Questions regarding nationality, age, marital status and religious inclinations are some of the questions that you must stay away from. When all is said and done, if you play your cards right, you could end up recruiting a great candidate who will be a credit to both you and the company.

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