Interviewing is tough. To help our readers ask the right questions, we reached out to Carole Martin, The Interview Coach and author of the book Boost Your Hiring IQ, a fun and interactive quiz that helps objectively determine whether the person you’re interviewing is the right person for the job; and Sherry Jordan of Sherry Jordan Coach. Jordan grew up in family businesses, and for the last 20 years has been coaching high performance executives, small business owners, solo entrepreneurs and professional teams to success.
Here are the five go-to questions:
1. Why do you want to work here at this job and company?
If you receive a “cliché answer” it’s not a good sign, says Martin. Because, it’s most likely your candidate is saying the same “cliché line” to every employer. A good answer would be “specific” to your company, industry, or field. The candidate should show an interest in this position, your company and what industry your company supports.
And remember, the candidate has to be a “fit” for the position, the culture of the company or department.
2. Why do you think you are qualified for this position?
Believe it or not, this is a difficult question for many people to answer in an organized manner, says Martin. “I meet all the requirements for the job,” is what they are thinking, but you want more.
“You want to see if they can summarize, inform, and feel comfortable telling you about what they have accomplished in a confident, yet modest manner,” says Martin.
Another way of asking the same question is, “What can you bring to this position that others cannot?”
3. What are your short and long-term goals?
Employees dread this question. But it’s a good one for a few reasons.
“For some candidates, getting a job is what they are focused on at the present,” says Martin.
But, those with a history of “moving around” may be an indication they are looking at every opportunity available – and may not stick around, or be a job hopper. Most candidates will give some “standard” answer: “I want to work for a company where I can grow and develop and contribute.” The appropriateness of this answer depends on what you are looking for – someone who is willing to learn new things. Or, are you looking for someone to “hit the ground running,” with little or no additional training?
4. What are the top three accomplishments in your career?
History is the best indicator of future performance, says Jordan. And this question also leads to a variety of other questions such as, “What do you think contributed to that accomplishment?” The candidate will not only share an overview of a time when they felt most successful, but wil often share how they contributed to the success. This can show if they are a leader, follower, team player, collaborator and more. If the candidate is just starting their career, you can change this question to, “What are the top three accomplishments in your life?”
5. If you could give your past employer advice, what would it be?
This is a definite wild card, says Jordan. But, by asking this question the interviewer sends a message that they value the suggestions of their candidate. That eases the candidate into very honest feedback and paves the way for them to share feelings on work environment, mission, vision, or performance of a past employer. It can also help employers gauge the general attitude of their candidate: Positive, negative, accepting, forgiving.
“It’s a great opportunity to get feedback at an emotional level,” says Jordan.
Interviewing is tough. These five questions can help.