When it comes to asking questions in an interview, there’s a balance to be struck between trying to be too clever with your questions (to the point that they aren’t helpful in deciphering who the best candidate for your role is) or being so simplistic that your 5-year-old child could answer them!
The lurch towards random questions, (if you were a piece of fruit what would you be) which has gathered pace over the last decade, can sometimes be useful when used as a quasi-competency based question to discover the “real” person. However, pointless random questions, can lead you to exactly the wrong candidate – the candidate who can answer these types of questions very well, but who cannot complete actual jobs very well!
With this in mind, it’s a good idea to have a mixture of competency and non-competency based questions. As the interviewer, avoid talking too much; we’d ideally like the candidate to spend 80% of the interview talking and remember the sage advice of Earl Nightingale, “…the most important piece of information, is that which isn’t being said!”
Generally speaking you can break the interview into two simple parts:
This part of the interview can last between ten and thirty minutes depending on the depth of experience of the candidate. It also serves to relax the candidate as they should be answering easy questions about their own curriculum vitae.
This part of the interview is designed to be more challenging but it shouldn’t deviate too much from the 80/20 split we discussed above.
Competency-based questions can provide you with an insight into how a candidate might perform any given task and whether they’ve got the background and skills you’re looking for. It’s also possible to gauge their strengths and weaknesses through their answers by assessing whether they demonstrate a willingness to learn, an ability to perform or, if they show a negative approach towards a specific task or environment.
Typical competency based questions are:
The list of questions is not exhaustive and you can adjust them to whatever skills and behaviours your role demands.
What you should be doing whilst the interviewee is talking?
Other useful questions
These questions give you opportunities to probe further with your who, what, when, how, which and why questions.
Avoid pointless questions and if in any doubt ask the candidate to try and solve a current problem in your company, this too will give you lots of opportunities to see their decision making processes, listening skills, and communication skills in action.
Remember to sell your role to the candidate. Your job is to impress upon the candidate how great your company is going to be with them in it!