Conducting Interviews, Even Though You Aren’t in HR? Find Out How to Ask the Perfect Interview Question.

When people think about the interviewing process, they often remember how stressful it was for them — the interviewee. Rarely do they put themselves in the shoes of the interviewer.

The reality is, this is a nerve-racking job. The decisions made by these individuals can have a profound effect on the company. Adding to the stress, is the fact that many interviewers are not trained in this field. Personally speaking, when I’ve been interviewed, it’s only been by a professional once. The rest were either, managers who oversaw my position or the owners themselves. This is extremely common because businesses with less than 20 employees, employ 86% of the United States’ workforce.

Now a way to combat this lack of experience is with a strong hiring strategy that includes an arsenal of useful behavioral questions. And, unfortunately, an arsenal is only useful if you can properly use the weapons.

Asking a Revealing Behavioral Question

As an interviewer, you have to make many judgment calls about a candidate. The most significant, and obvious being — will this person be able to handle the responsibilities / tasks of the position?

Now one of the most effective ways to make that decision, is to look at the candidates’ past actions. As the saying goes, the best predictors of future performance are past actions. And that’s the beauty behind behavioral questions — they do just that. Of course, this only works if you’re getting honest answers. The way to get truthful responses from your candidates is to avoid this one big mistake — Leading the Interviewee.

Too often interviewers put the answer they want to hear, inside the question they’re asking. Here’s a great example of just that — “What methods or tools do you use to stay organized with multiple tasks and assignments?”

Right away, the candidate knows they need to answer with some kind of organization tool or method. If they do use an organization tool, great. If not, they’re going to lie and you may not find out until their neck deep in assignments, missing objective after objective.

So, how should you ask this question? The key is to ask it in a way that allows for many different answers. An example would be — “The last time you had multiple assignments, what actions did you take and what were the results?”

Why This Gets Results

By not allowing the candidate to know your stance in advanced, you’re forcing him/her to give you an honest answer. Slightly polished, because they’re trying to put their best foot forward, but still honest.

Now as they recite their answer, you should be able to determine, are they organized or not. And if you can’t, don’t hesitate to probe further (Ex. “Do you consider this method effective? Why or why not?” etc.). In fact, I recommend always following up with several other questions. The better you understand the candidate, the stronger your decision will be.

Now, this may be obvious(unfortunately, the obvious is often overlooked) but, it’s very important to determine what answer you’re looking for, before the interview starts, and use that criteria for every candidate of that position. You really want to take away most decisions based on emotions, and grade everyone on the same scale. I don’t believe this should be a purely analytical task, but you should keep it that way as much as possible.

Bonus Tip

To make sure you only ask useful interview questions, I want to leave you with one more suggestion. And that’s to avoid questions that require a yes or no answer; They only make your job harder.

Look, the main reason we interview is to have insightful conversations with the candidates. These types of questions, simply don’t allow that. Yes, you can always probe deeper, but the reality is, candidates can easily lie on that initial question, which will only lead to more falsehoods. And as I said before, you might not find out until it’s really costly.

I want you to hire someone that’s great at their job, not someone that’s great at the interview. Behavioral questions, when asked right, will allow you to do just that.

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