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Best Questions to Ask as a Hiring Manager in an Interview
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Best Questions to Ask as a Hiring Manager in an Interview

February 14, 2019

It’s widely known that companies use interviews as part of their recruiting processes. Interviews are a good compliment to CV screening since it makes the hiring manager better understand what kind of previous work experiences and competencies a candidate has, as well as what the person’s motivations and drives are. However, without preparing for the interviews, there’s a risk for hiring the wrong person. Let’s go through the different steps that shouldn’t be overlooked in the interview process for hiring managers.

Asking the right questions

The purpose of the interview is to figure out if a candidate would work well in a certain role at the workplace, in terms of skill-set and cultural fit. In order to understand if someone would be suitable for your organization, it’s important to form well-thought out interview questions.

First, you need to know why you’re asking a certain question and what kind of answer you’re looking for. Without knowing that, you’ll most likely hire someone based on gut feeling only. This could result in an employee that doesn't have the right skills or experience for the role. A good guideline, when preparing interview questions, is to write down the requirements for the position and create questions that make the candidate explain how he/she acted in a certain work situation. Through these questions, you’ll find out if they live up to your role requirements.

Let’s say that you’re going to hire a customer service representative. What we’re looking for, in this case, is someone who knows how to provide your customers with the best possible service. A good question to ask a customer support candidate could be: “When did you turn an unhappy customer into a happy customer?” This kind of question is behavioral and will give you an understanding of how the candidate solved a work-related problem. A good answer for this question would be an explanation of a specific case when the candidate was in contact with a customer and what steps were taken to solve the customer's issues. A less prefered answer to your question would be if the candidate only gives you a general answer, such as “I always solve a customer's problems.” This doesn’t give you any clue on how the potential employee would help your customers.

In order to get insights into a candidate's knowledge and values, it’s also important to slightly personalize the questions since not all candidates will have the same work background. However, have some basic questions that you can ask all candidates for the same position, in order to compare the answers afterwards.

Structure the interview

Many candidates might feel a bit nervous before an interview and, in most cases, some warm-up questions are needed to make the candidate feel comfortable in your presence. Start the interview by asking questions that are very easy to answer, such as “how has your day been so far?” It’s a friendly question that opens up for a conversation. To create a more relaxed interview situation, it’s also a good idea to inform the interviewee how the interview will be structured and how long time the conversation will take. The candidate will most likely be more relaxed knowing what kind of topics will be discussed during the interview.


Cultural fit

When interviewing a candidate, it’s important to know if the person is a cultural fit for the organization. good cultural fit is someone that works well in the existing workplace environment and has values that match the organization’s. An employee that isn’t a cultural fit might feel misplaced and want to leave the company soon. This is especially important if you are hiring a highly employee-facing job like an office manager.

To know if someone is a cultural fit, it’s necessary that some of the interview questions are about the candidate’s ideal work environment and how much teamwork the candidate prefers. The work environment should not come as a shock for a person during the first working day.

For example, when hiring someone for an international company, it might be a good idea to check the depth of their cultural experiences; this could be beneficial in a role that requires communicating with people from different countries.

Be aware of your gut feeling when checking the cultural fit. It might be very tempting to hire someone that is exactly like you, however in the long run this will result in a lack of diversity and opinions in the organization. Many types of personalities will do a good job, so focus on what motivates the candidate and their drive in order to evaluate if they would be a good cultural fit or not.  

Giving a good first impression

Lastly, an interview should be a conversation with questions and not a strict interrogation. A candidate that gets stressed or scared during an interview will most likely not want to work at your company. Interviews should be fun and informative, so keep them light and be well prepared.

Written by:

Kait Hobson
Workplace Innovation