Interview questions to gain insight

Test your candidate at interview with a few surprise questions they’re unlikely to have pre-prepared answers to. Behavioural interview questions, when well constructed, can be a very effective tool in getting to know your candidate. The idea is to get the candidate to answer your questions by drawing on their previous experience, giving you an insight into how they deal with certain situations.

Dig deeper

Behavioural interview questions aren’t the normal, “what is your biggest weakness?” or “why do you want to work here?” type questions, where the answers you’ll receive might be about as original as the ones the candidate you last interviewed gave. Getting to know a candidate’s real character and work ethic requires other means. This is why it’s often necessary to eliminate the formalities and deliver your questions in a more conversational tone.
So, if you ask a candidate a question that they must answer by giving a real life example, like: “tell me about the last time you made a mistake in the workplace”, you’re more likely to figure out what type of business person is sitting across the table from you.
Then, keep them talking. When they answer your question you can ask as many follow-ups as you deem necessary, such as “what happened next?”, “how did the other people involved feel?” or “what was the outcome?”  By the end of the interview you’ll not only have their answers to the standard interview questions, you’ll also be able to envision how they’ll fit into your business, what value they might add, and where.

Get a better insight

Below are some suggestions of behavioural interview questions, but there are plenty of things you can ask a candidate that will provide you with a more complete idea of how they’ll perform in the job:
  • What’s the most difficult work-based decision you had to make in your last job?
  • Describe a time when you knew you were right about a decision but were forced to do otherwise due to guidelines or protocol.
  • What is the toughest decision you have had to make at work?
  • Tell me how you’ve had to rectify a mistake when you’ve annoyed a customer or work colleague.
  • Tell us about a situation where attention to detail was key to accomplishing a job.
  • Questions such as these will prove a challenge for even an experienced interviewee, but they will, when asked in the right manner, open an invaluable dialogue, providing you with a greater insight into a candidate’s previous experiences than traditional interview questions would.
For more interview tips and information on hiring, visit Michael Page’s Employer Centre.