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Top 15 questions to identify candidate’s character

Friday, October 04, 2013 11:28:25 AM

       1)      If you could do anything today, outside of work, what would you choose to do?

You are trying to identify how energetic the candidate is; not in terms of the physical nature of their activities, but in their enthusiasm and passion for anything. What motivates them? How do they de-stress?

2)      What was the last book, TV programme or film you really enjoyed?

With this question, you are looking to gain an insight into the candidate’s personality; for example, are they looking to improve their continuous development through informative media, are they interested in a particular subject or theme and research around these topics or do they use these mediums to “switch off”?

3)      What is the most common website you search for?

Although similar to the previous question, it is less formal and it looks to understand how the applicant chooses to unwind, their informal interests, whether they are up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies and whether they are frequent users of social media, sports websites etc.

4)      When was the last time you felt proud at work and why?

How do they define or measure success? Are they client-led or task-led? Are they money-driven or require praise from colleagues and clients?

5)      Have you ever had to apologise for a mistake at work? If so, when?

Do they correspond with managers and clients in difficult situations? Are they willing to challenge existing corporate policy to achieve their objectives? Do they consider any situation when it would be suitable to do so? If not, try asking ‘have you ever had to forgive a colleague’?

6)      What would you do if you knew you were going to miss a work-related deadline?

Again, you are looking at how the candidate reacts to making a mistake but also how they approach workloads, pressure and deadlines. Further, you are looking at how they would approach possible conflict with a client or manager. Do they consider white lies to be acceptable? How do they overcome obstacles?

7)      What do you think you owe an employer and what do they owe you?

What is their motivation to work? Are they prone to “clock-watching”? Are they likely to be a long-term employee or easily swayed by other opportunities? What do they require to complete their workload? Are they money-motivated and/or ambitious?

8)      What is the perfect working environment for you?

Do they enjoy working independently or within a team? Would they fit in with the existing corporate culture and enhance the existing team? Do they wish for on-going training in a team, one-to-one or external environment?

9)      What is the biggest limiting factor on your current capabilities?

Do they wish to blame others? Are they self-evaluating? What attributes do they aspire to? Where is support likely to be necessary? What factors do they feel are required by your company for this role?

10)   How do you prefer to receive praise?

How do they feel that feedback should be presented? Do they like regular interaction with their managers or prefer to be left to focus on their workload? Are they likely to approach managers with questions?

11)   What would your academic and employment referees say about you?

This question enables you to see how reflective, accurate and honest the applicant is in the assessment of their own attributes and limitations, with the very real possibility that their comments will be evaluated against their later references.

12)   What three traits would your manager need to possess?

This question will reveal how the candidate prefers to be managed, their own working style, whether they would enhance the existing team and possibly what they see as their own flaws and limitations.

13)   Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?

You are clearly looking to evaluate ambition with this question. However, it also allows you to appraise whether the candidate has suitably researched your company and its corporate structure, whether they see a long-term career path with you and whether they are realistic in their future aspirations.

14)   If you could re-live one action of your academic or professional life to-date, what would you do differently?

Everybody has made mistakes and, with this question, you are looking to reveal whether the candidate is open and direct in revealing them, discover whether they actively work towards improving themselves and whether they can acknowledge their limitations.

15)   Is there anything that you would like me to know about you that we have failed to discuss?

It is important to provide this opportunity to the candidate, which will often offer you the most useful insight into how they like to portray themselves, what they feel are the attributes required in the role and provide perception into how they would present themselves to clients.

Whilst these questions are helpful in providing a structure to the interview and in gaining an insight into the candidate’s character, their makeup will ultimately be revealed in their general correspondence throughout the interview. For example, are they engaging and have they gone beyond the search engine in assessing the job role and your company? The most success interviews typically tend to be two-way interactions, which can only occur if both parties have prepared sufficiently for the interview.

If you have any questions, whether you are preparing to interview or be interviewed, please don’t hesitate to contact me via lewis@getworkexperience.com or on 0208 823 0898.