Interviewing and asking the right questions can be one of the most difficult tasks to master for business owners and managers. After all, you specialise in growing your business, products and services, not interviewing job candidates. There is one rule you must understand in order to get through the interview and get the right person into the position. You have to ask the right questions. What does that mean, though?

“Even experienced interviewers struggle from time to time.”

Not All Questions Are Created Equal

Essentially, an interview is little more than a question and answer session during which each side sizes up the other. However, not all questions are the same. You’ll certainly need to ask your share of standard interview questions – where does the candidate see him or herself in five years, why they want to work with your particular firm and the like. However, you must understand that some of your questions should have multiple purposes. You’re interested in their verbal answer, definitely, but there’s much more that can be gleaned from these types of questions.

The Right Questions to Ask

Ideally, the interview process should provide you with access to information on a range of subjects about the candidate. One of the most important areas to probe is their behaviour – questions that ask them to describe how they were able to achieve a specific goal, or how they persuaded other team members to do something their way. You’ll benefit from the obvious verbal answer, but you should also be able to glean nonverbal information, including how quickly the candidate can answer the question, which says a great deal about their ability to think and perform under pressure.

Behavioural questions are only one type. You need to add others to the mix. Leadership related questions are also important, particularly for managerial positions, and to determine if the individual has the capacity to move up within the organization to a position with greater responsibility. Cultural fit interview questions should also be asked in order to ensure that the candidate will be a good fit for your organisation’s particular culture.

These types of questions shouldn’t be the entire interview, but they should be peppered throughout. Ideally, they’ll catch your candidate off guard and force them to think fast, or force them to think long and hard before giving a detailed answer. Pay attention to their verbal responses here as well – nonverbal information is very important, but you can glean related information from a verbal answer. For instance, if a candidate gives a long, rambling answer that doesn’t really touch on the point of your question, you know they’re hedging. Clarify that with follow up questions.

Prepare for the Interview

Every interviewer should have questions prepared beforehand. While it’s a good thing to tailor your questions to the candidate, having the basis for those questions already listed will help you move through the interview more quickly, and ensure that you’re able to gather the information necessary to determine if the candidate is the right person for the position.

To discuss if your company could benefit from assistance with interviewing, please mail us today at or call 01 8058053

SPECIAL GUEST BLOG by David Parkinson Human Resources Mentor,