How to Use Interview Questions to Find Great Employees

You know that it is fundamentally important that you hire the right candidate for your business. Otherwise, you risk causing tensions and conflict in the office or compromising the productivity of your company. But with every candidate presenting only their most positive attributes in an interview, it can become extremely difficult for those responsible to make a decision. Although the hiring process will always be a complicated undertaking, there are some things to consider when preparing your interview questions that can help to simplify the process.

The questions you ask during an interview help to illuminate your candidate’s skills and experience, as well as their personality, which, in many cases, is equally important. It is vital to remember that everyone has weaknesses and that these weaknesses do not always detract from the candidates’ abilities to succeed in a position. Those candidates with major weaknesses may also possess major strengths, which you might find are more relevant to your business than what they lack. In any case, there are some guidelines to follow when assessing candidates’ abilities.

Define your dream candidate

Well before you begin the interviews, decide who is right for the position. Create a list of the knowledge, experience, and personality that your dream candidate possesses. This helps the hiring process run smoothly because it ensures that you are not distracted by candidates’ irrelevant qualities. If you know what you want in a new hire before beginning the interview process, you will know exactly how to proceed once the interviews are over.

how to interview job candidatesCreate an interview script

Prior to the interview, create a script, and try to stick to it while interviewing potential hires. Have a list of questions ready, and try to minimize spontaneous or follow-up questions during the interview. This ensures that all of your candidates are asked the same questions and, therefore, have the same opportunity to prove their compatibility with your company. If you feel the need to give your candidates a chance to set themselves apart outside of your list of questions, include a question in the script asking, “Do you have any additional questions or final comments?” This gives all candidates an equal opportunity to make themselves distinct, ensuring that you do not make a hiring mistake simply because one candidate was given the chance to talk more than another.

Don’t ask useless questions

When preparing questions for your interview script, try to avoid “bluffable” questions. These types of questions are generic, can be answered in general terms and with little true thought, and do very little to reveal the candidate’s true characteristics. Most bluffable questions share one main commonality: They are all questions for which every candidate will give a similar type of answer. “Can you work well under pressure?” is an example of a bluffable question because every candidate is going to give the same type of answer. It’s a fairly pointless question because who would admit it if they could not?

Require real life illustrations

Instead, make sure your interview questions are specific. Ask candidates for a real-life example of a crisis situation they felt they handled effectively. Then ask them for a real-life example of a crisis situation they felt they handled poorly, and find out what they would do differently now.  Ask the candidate precisely what inspired them to apply for the position.

These are only examples, but make sure that, like these, your questions also require particulars. Pose questions that force your candidates to be honest. Don’t prepare questions that let them get away with giving stale, generic answers.

If you can predict how your interviewees are going to answer, then you’re asking the wrong questions.

About Andrew Jensen

Andrew Jensen, a business growth, efficiency & marketing consultant, provides business advisory services for clients in the Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; York, Hanover, Lancaster & Harrisburg, PA regions. Andrew advises regarding business growth, productivity, efficiency, business startups, customer service, and online/offline marketing. Follow Andrew on Google+


  1. Patrick says:

    Great tips.

Share Your Thoughts