What questions you should actually ask during a job interview
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What questions you should actually ask during a job interview

May 22, 2018

Do you know what the most searched-for term concerning hiring and selection is? It’s “interview questions”.

Candidates search for these to prepare, but nearly as many searches are done by hiring managers. They don’t do interviews every day and are anxious not to make mistakes. Candidates feel the same. Searching for the right questions to ask and the right answers to give help reduce the anxiety. However, this turns the interview into two people performing a script written by someone else. Not very helpful for making good decisions.

Sure, it is better to ask well-prepared questions rather than randomly chatting or wasting time presenting your company – but wouldn’t you assume that the person making it to your short list has already briefed themselves about your company basics? So, prepare and ask questions that makes sense, but still, what questions are best?

These days, cultural fit is a hot topic in hiring. So, someone might come across professionally while asking questions like: “describe the work culture of the organizations you have felt comfortable with”. But, what can you do with the answers? Should you conclude that if you like the answer you should rate this candidate positively? Or even believe that he or she fits in well with your organization? These types of conclusions are in no way better than a randomly assigned rating.

What about psychometric tests? They are almost the same – used in many recruitment situations worldwide with thousands of people every day. Just to make the hiring manager and HR people involved feel better and more professional, to get some “data-based support” for the decisions they want to make. Yes, that’s how these questions and tests work. You get the “data” and now you can rationalize the decision you wanted to make in the first place – test results are as good as anything to support your choice, which you made based on your gut feeling during the first 10 minutes of the interview.

Did you know that, globally, 20% of new hires leave within the first few months of their new job? But what is the main reason that people quit early on in their new job? The answer is that it comes down to the relationships they have with their closest co-workers and their boss.

You can say that the new employee did not have a good cultural fit with the organization. But what is the culture an employee has to fit with? Is it really the value statements designed by consultants during a weekend retreat with top management? Not really. Think of the atmosphere and relations of your development teams and compare it with the atmosphere in your accounting teams. Is it really the same?

Contemporary organizations consist of teams. Almost everyone works in a team of 5 to 10 close co-workers and if you feel good with these people, you want to stay, if you don’t fit in, you will leave. Personal fit is even more important if everyday communication and interaction is limited or technically mediated in virtual or semi-virtual teams. This is especially crucial in the temporary teams that are so common to modern organizations. A well-fitting temporary team might do a great job, and in the other extreme they might do nothing.

So, it makes sense to evaluate team fit, to find out who fits in with these co-worker groups. It only makes sense if the team members are involved and team culture is mapped and described in some professional way. If you have done this, then you can dig into the differences of the candidates of your team and make yourself aware of what each candidate might bring to your team and what difficulties could arise in on-boarding.

Luckily, there are tools you can use for this, such as Teamscope, a new people analytics app based on the best current science in personality measurement, high performing teams and value theories. The model measures hundreds of data points about each team member and calculates all the interactions between these characteristics with all the persons involved. As soon as each team member has spent about 15 minutes with the application, an automatic interactive visualization appears, and the team leader and members can use it to improve their team performance. It can also be used for selecting candidates who would best fit in with the existing team members.

Teamscope also features an interview guide, generated by the app based on critical differences between a candidate and the team. Asking these personalized behavioral questions makes sense; they help to explore the differences in values and personalities that might derail potentially good teamwork, if not handled properly.

Interviewing in the hiring process is almost a must. It is a widespread hiring ritual and even if it is proven that you would be better off avoiding this ineffective method, no one would really consider hiring anyone without interviewing them first. But you can use your interview time so it would actually make sense. Instead of using random or senseless questions it is reasonable to use the resources available to prepare and ask questions that really help you understand which of the candidates is the best addition to your team and who has the most potential to stay with you for a long time.