The best interview questions describe the person behind the resume. They generate productive dialogue about an individual’s personality, strengths, weaknesses and examples of past success. They enable you to assess not only a prospective hire’s experience, but also their philosophy and approach to problem solving and decision making. Finally, they help you paint an accurate picture of how they interact with people and their work environment.

Why should we hire you?

You want to know what a candidate is most interested in relevant to your position. Their response to this question will tell you what motivates and is important to them. It also indicates whether or not the individual was thoughtful regarding their potential cultural acclimation and if they’ll be able to add value.

  • Ask candidates what sets them apart from the competition. A person who does a great job explaining how their unique experience, education and personal interests will power your business will convert this vision into reality once hired.
  • Did they do their homework? In today’s Internet age, learning about a company has never been easier. They should be able to tell you specifically how they can contribute based on their knowledge of your organization and industry.
  • Talk about past achievements. This not only demonstrates what a candidate considers to be a significant accomplishment, but it also gives them the opportunity to segue into specific achievements that relate to the position.

When I ask your last manager which area of your work needs the most improvement, what will I learn?

No amount of rehearsing or finessing can influence a candidate’s response to this question. Once their current or former supervisor is brought into the conversation, they know the truth will come out anyway. This also helps you to understand how a candidate perceives the opinion of their former employer.

  • Get a clear idea of how the candidate works with others. Their response will provide an assessment of their own interpersonal and communication effectiveness.
  • Lead into a discussion of continuing development and improvement. You want to hire people who firmly believe in and embrace continuous improvement. This means acknowledging one’s weaknesses and doing whatever it takes to convert them into assets.

What motivates – and frustrates – you?

Ask these questions in sequence in order to better understand a candidate’s personal vision, mission, goals and objectives. If whatever drives them matches your company culture, you have a winner.

  • An individual’s comments on their past frustrations can be very telling. It unveils details about their personality, diplomacy skills and ability to work as part of a team. Look for examples of how they successfully resolved serious conflicts involving budgets and business priorities – not just minor inconveniences.
  • Discuss the candidate’s most valuable attributes related to job and cultural fit. This is key in ensuring that your work environment will be to their liking. It provides essential detail regarding how they view your company and the position.

How do you involve others in decision making?

A candidate’s response to this question tells you whether they’re secure enough to trust others when it comes to significant strategic decisions.

  • Find out how they keep team members engaged. Do they use written communication, one-on-one interaction or group meetings? How a person relates to others and how effective their tactics are tells you a great deal about their management style.
  • Ask about their interaction at all organizational levels. How self-directed are they in communicating with and relating to direct reports? Peers? Bosses? Executive leadership? If your company emphasizes empowerment, an individual who needs constant direction will not be a good match. If you know that their would-be boss is a micromanager, then a self-directed candidate may not succeed.

Are you asking the right interview questions? Does your executive interview strategy need help? Could you benefit from additional guidance to build an industry-leading hiring process? To learn more, read our related posts or contact the executive search consultants at BrainWorks today.

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