Knowing What to Ask During Interviews
Posted on September 8, 2008 by author in Best Practices, Talent Acquisition
I’d really like to create a series of YouTube videos for my company showing interview questions gone wrong. It could be funny, fast, and viral. But until that momentous day, what should you say while interviewing your next star candidate?
Remember during the entire interview process (before, during, and after) to avoid making any statements that could be construed as promises concerning the job, future pay, advancement opportunities, or benefits. There are a growing number of legal cases that have found that statements made in interviews were oral contracts of employment or even fraudulent inducement.
Some of the question topics below are illegal. Others are simply risky. And it’s not a comprehensive list of questions to avoid–just a few helpful guidelines.
- Questions not related to the job.
- Any question involving race, religion, nationality, national origin, place of birth, or citizenship.
- About age, children, family, or marital status.
- About (or comment on) the applicant’s physical characteristics, attributes, limitations, or
- If the candidate can pass a physical examination or a drug test.
- Questions that make assumptions about the applicant.
- Questions that assume the applicant shares some value, characteristic, or personal trait of your
- Indirect questions in the form of statements that invite the applicant to volunteer personal
- Questions about any arrests or about convictions unrelated to the job you have open.
Many potentially illegal questions can be asked in a way that provide the information you really need without discriminating against the equal employment opportunity rights of all applicants.On the other hand, here are some examples of open-ended questions which might reveal information you need to make an informed hiring decision. It is always a good practice to have these types of questions that solicit further information from candidates.
1. Describe a time when you faced problems or stresses at work that tested your coping skills. What did you do?
2. Give an example of a time when you could not participate in a discussion or could not finish a
task because you did not have enough information.
3. Give an example of a time when you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision.
4. Tell me about a time when you used your communication skills to get a point across that was important to you.
5. Tell me about a job experience in which you had to speak up and tell other people what you
thought or felt.
6. Give me an example of when you motivated your coworkers or subordinates.
7. Tell me about a specific occasion when you conformed to a policy even though you did not agree with it.
8. Describe a situation in which you felt it necessary to be attentive and vigilant to your environment.
9. Give me an example of a time when you used your fact-finding skills to gain information needed to solve a problem. Tell me how you analyzed the information and came to a decision.
10. Give me an example of an important goal you had to set; tell me about your progress in reaching that goal.
11. Describe the most significant written document, report, or presentation you’ve completed.
12. Give me an example of a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
13. Give me an example of a time when you were able to communicate successfully with another
person, even when that individual may not have personally liked you.
14. Describe a situation in which you were able to read another person effectively. What did you do in your last job in order to be effective with your organization and planning? Be specific.
15. Describe the most creative work-related project you have completed.
16. Describe a time when you felt it was necessary to modify or change your actions in order to
respond to the needs of another person.
17. Give me an example of a time when you had to analyze another person carefully or a situation in order to be effective in guiding your action or decision.
18. What did you do in your last job to contribute towards a teamwork environment? Be specific.
19. Give me an example of a problem you faced on the job, and tell me how you solved it.
20. Describe a situation in which you were able to positively influence the actions of others in a
21. Tell me about a situation in the past year in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or coworker.
22. Describe a situation in which others within your organization depended on you.
23. Describe your most recent team effort.
24. Describe the worst customer or coworker you have ever had and tell me how you dealt with him or her.
That should at least get you started…