What Three Questions Must You Ask Every Candidate?

Interviews remain essential to the hiring process because their power to sort top candidates from average candidates remains unparalleled – but only if hiring managers know how to interview effectively. Planning questions before the interview can help hiring managers focus on topics and inquiries that reveal much about candidates.

When time is short and competition among candidates is fierce, what three questions must you ask every candidate? Consider these:

When have you failed?

Candidates come into interview eager to talk about their successes. Certainly hiring managers should spend some time listening to these stories. But asking a candidate about a time he or she has failed offers the opportunity for key insights in several areas:

  • How does the candidate react to an unexpected or un-prepared-for question?
  • How does the candidate talk about his or her failures? Does the candidate deny they exist (and if so, why has the candidate never failed)? Does the candidate blame them on someone else?
  • Does the candidate volunteer what he or she learned from failure, or does the hiring manager have to ask in a follow-up question?

This question gives you insight into how the candidate handles failure. The answer may demonstrate self-awareness, humbleness, and introspection – all important qualities in a top employee.

If you had five years to live, what would you do?

This twist on the classic “where do you see yourself in five years?” question broadens the field to include not only where the candidate sees him- or herself professionally, but personally as well. It invites the candidate to put his or her career within a larger context. By doing so, it can clarify exactly what matters most to the candidate – not only about this particular job or this particular company, but about the candidate’s ethics and work style.

Certainly, candidates who say “working right here” may not be entirely honest (unless they can give a convincing explanation). But candidates whose final five years are filled with things other than their career may be revealing that their hearts are elsewhere – and that they may follow them.

How will you contribute to this company?

The answer will immediately separate candidates who have done their homework from candidates who haven’t. Those who have will be eager to describe how they feel they’ll fit into the company; those who haven’t will put together a generic answer.   You’ll be able to judge the candidate’s enthusiasm for this job and company as well as learn from the content of the answer itself.

At THE RIGHT STAFF, LLC, our experienced staffing partners can help your hiring managers hone their interview skills as they communicate with outstanding candidates. Contact us today to learn more about our staffing services in Minneapolis and beyond.

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