5 Rules for Interview Questions that Result in Great Hires


Job interviews used to be simple. You’d ask the candidate questions that you thought were appropriate and based on your decision of the answers. Now, however, the waters around the interview are treacherous. You have to be aware of the legality of the questions you ask.

Tread carefully with your questions.

Some questions can elicit information that may cause the employer to discriminate against the candidate. For example, you cannot ask a person applying for a job with your company if he or she has ever filed a workers’ compensation claim. You cannot ask about disabilities unless the question is meant to determine whether the person can meet the requirements of the position.

Review the rules of the Australian Human Rights Commission to determine if your interview will violate any of the regulations.

Having gotten that caveat out of the way, here are the five rules for the best questions to determine whether you will be hiring a successful employee.

1. Look for positivity, enthusiasm.

“In what ways do you want your next job to be different?”
The best answers tell you what the candidates are looking for, not what they are leaving behind. If the applicant spends time complaining about the last boss, work environment, lack of opportunities, or challenges, you can bet that this is more of a negative person. If the answer is forward looking, especially if the applicant has obviously done research on your company, this may be the one you want.

2. Find out indirectly what they value in others and, therefore, in themselves.

“Tell me about one or two of the people you’ve worked with that you really admire.”
When your candidate tells you about the admirable qualities in another person, he or she is telling you about what is important and valuable in life. You can learn a lot about people by having them describe the characteristics that they aspire to.

3. Check their knowledge base of the industry when hiring employees.

“See if you can help me with this problem we’re having now.”
Describe a situation that is either happening now in your company or happened in the recent past. Ask the applicant how to handle it. Watch to see if the person becomes engaged in the problem or offers meaningless platitudes. Before the interview list the steps that were taken to correct the problem. See whether your applicant covers all the salient points or leaves out critical factors.

4. See how much they really know about your company.

“Put yourself in my shoes and sell this job to me.”
Did they care enough to do in-depth research about the position? Being enthusiastic about the job is one of the factors you want in employees. You can also get an idea about their people skills this way.

5. See whether they can communicate articulately.

Ask them about their life outside of work. What are they passionate about? Then ask them to explain why.
People who have varied interests, such as music, art, cars, or even raising ferrets, are generally happier people and make better employees. Explaining their passion reveals their ability to communicate with others, a critical skill in many positions.

Whether you’re looking for a lab tech or a CEO, you want to find someone who is keenly interested and excited about your company. Use questions that will show you those qualities instead of having the candidate tell you about them. This will enable you to find the best people for the job.


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