Successful Interviewing: 7 Questions You Must Always Ask

Many businesses suffer from high levels of staff turnover simply because they have hired the wrong people in the first place. Similarly, many business owners go through the whole recruitment process and make an offer to someone they like only to find that they have chosen to take another role. Very often this “mis – hiring” of people or “missing out” on people is down to the way in which these people have been interviewed – in particular the questions that were are asked (or rather NOT asked!). You see, if you ask the right questions you drastically increase the chances obtaining enough information to then ensure you recruit the right people. The questions you ask at interview will depend on the type of role you are looking to fill, the type of business you are in and your own personal style. But there are 7 questions that you must ask every candidate regardless of the type of role you are hiring for:

1. “What are your reasons for leaving your current (or last) role?” You are looking to see if there is a logical and rational reason here for leaving as well as looking out for any unusual circumstances. You also need to understand why they are leaving to ensure they are not then looking to leave your business within a few months of joining for the very same reason. The answers to this question will also provides valuable information for you to then sell your opportunity later in the interview.

2. “What are you ideally looking for in your next job?” By getting them to paint a picture of their ideal job, you get all the ‘hooks’ to then sell your opportunity at the end of the interview and so maximise the chances of securing a hire if they are right for you. Conversely their answers will also tell you if your role is not right for them and so enable you to adapt the interview as appropriate.

3. “What attracts you to our role / business? What made you apply?” This gives you the opportunity to see how much they have thought about your role or business and how likely they are to be committed to you. Once again gives you plenty of hooks to sell the role if you end up competing against another employer.

4. “Where do you see yourself in 3 years time?” (…or “12 months”, “5 years” etc – whatever time frame you deem appropriate give the role you are looking to fill) Their answer gives an idea of the direction they are going in and whether you will be able to meet their expectations if you hired them. Similarly, if someone has future plans to manage teams, go travelling, start their own business or just stay in the same field – this is key information you require in order to make a decision to hire them or not.

5. “What is your current/last salary and package?” Make sure you do not leave discussions around money until the negotiation stage when you are about to offer the job as this reduces your negotiation power significantly once a candidate knows you are keen on them.

6 “What salary are you ideally looking for? What is the lowest you would consider for your ideal job?” You want to gain as much flexibility as possible so asking about their ideal and lowest levels gives you a range to play with. This range gives you the leverage to manage expectations and ultimately ensure you achieve a successful offer.

7 “What other roles are you interviewing for at the moment? What stage are you at with these? (e.g. have you any interviews pending or offers on the table?)” If you are interested in a candidate, asking this question gives you much better control of the situation as you know who you are competing against, how you compare and the speed at which you may need decisions in order to secure their service. The answers to these 7 questions should tell you plenty about the person and give an indication of how suitable they are. The answers will also gives you valuable information about how quickly you need to make decisions and what you need to pay to secure someone’s services before another employer does.

The 7 questions are not the only questions to ask – but they should ideally form the ‘spine’ of your interview. This spine should of course be combined with a series of questions about the candidates work experience, skills and knowledge so that you get a complete picture and so ensure you hire the right person.

Copyright (c) 2006 Mr Sital Ruparelia