Eye-Opening Interview Questions to Help You Find Out What You Need to Know

Everyone has had that moment. A new hire is not working out as planned and you start to recall the interview process.

You’re sure you did a good job in assessing them, didn’t you? You’re sure you ticked all the boxes, asked all the right questions?

The harsh truth is, most organisations, and interviewers, don’t go deep enough at interview.

It’s understandable. You’ve got a tough role to fill, you meet a candidate who meets most of the criteria. You feel, at face value, would be a fit.

More than anything, you need to fill the role, so you hire them. And let’s face it, it’s difficult to find people with the right ‘skills’. The temptation is, when you find one, you want to grab them with both hands and ask when they can start.

So, what can you do better?

Develop an interview framework that will really help you find out what you need to know. It’s about digging deeper – way beyond skills, academics and job titles to really establish how, in simple terms, this person will perform in conducting the work you need them to do.

To help, we’ve listed below a number of ‘eye-opener’ questions. Ones that usually catch people off guard. Or at least, if not off guard, will require them to dig deep and give you something less scripted than a lot of the typical interview questions.

What would your boss say about you if I met with them for a coffee?

There are actually two reasons why you want to ask this question. Number one, you’re requiring them to give an authentic response, as by the way the question is asked, there is a possibility you might do exactly this when taking references – so this should remove the rose-tint. If they can’t answer convincingly, or with enough positives, you may have a problem.

Secondly, it’s a good way of testing self awareness. People who falter with this question typically haven’t given much thought to how other people see them – which, if you are interviewing for a leader, or potential leader, should be a red flag.

If they answer with clarity – there’s probably a good chance they have high levels of self awareness, and in turn, high emotional quotient (EQ).

What element of your job do you dislike the most?

A lot of positively phrased questions, like’ why do you like accounting?’ usually elicit scripted responses. Questions that require candidates to talk about frustrations or dislikes usually promote more genuine answers. By exploring areas of the job, they don’t enjoy, you’ll get a better sense of whether they are a fit. The important part is to make sure you’re being honest with yourself here as there’s no point in thinking you can mould the job to suit the individual. If you get a sense they won’t enjoy a core aspect of the role, or even a relatively significant part, they’re not right for the role. No matter how much you like them.

What would you do in [blank] situation?

Obviously, you need to give them a situation, but this is probably the most effective way to actually test someone’s thought process without a more detailed psychometric testing or case study exercise. Walk them through a tricky business issue and ask them to talk you through what they would do to fix or address it, in stages. You’ll be able to see the cogs ticking, in real time, and unless they have encountered this exact situation, a scripted answer won’t help them. Once you’ve given them the opportunity to put their thinking forward, ask them to reflect on why they decided on that course of action.

Don’t be tempted to feel that you are labouring a point – gaining an insight into past behavioural patterns and thought processes will provide you with a deep understanding of an individual’s performance capability.

Above all, keep it focused. Don’t be tempted to use stock standard interview questions that you’ve googled at the last minute. Taking ownership for your interviewing strategy will reap rewards in future years, not to mention time in the short run.

At Barden we invest our resources to bring you the very best insights on all things to do with your professional future. Got a topic you would like us to research? Got an insight you would like us to share with our audience? Drop us a note to hello@barden.ie and we will take it from there!

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At Barden we invest our resources to bring you the very best insights on all things to do with your professional future.
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