9 Hiring Questions to Avoid Canned Responses5 min read

October 15, 2018 Candidate Experience

There’s an open position, the best candidates have been narrowed down and now they’re ready to come in for an interview. Are you? Get the most out of your candidate interviews with questions that determine their cultural fit, personality and work style without receiving canned responses.

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Throughout the interview process, candidates and recruiters work to sell themselves and their organization to determine whether they are a good match for each other. Successful interviews  can determine whether a candidate is qualified for the position, would make a good fit for the work culture and possess the right skills to meet your company’s needs.

Candidates know this. They may practice their answers to common questions ahead of time, coming up with ideal answers that can make them seem like the perfect fit. But just because a candidate is good at interviewing doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll make a good employee. So, how can you tell?

Asking questions that make candidates think on-the-fly without advanced preparation can elicit honest and truthful answers. Rather than hearing the answer to a generic “what makes you a good fit for this role” question that can carry a canned response, you’ll be able to challenge the candidate, take them out of their comfort zone and gain insights into their thought process.

While every role is different and there’s no one-size-fits-all question that can meet every recruiter’s hiring needs, these questions can help determine universal qualities like honesty, self-reflection and thoughtfulness. Here are our nine interview questions to keep your candidates thinking on their feet:

1. “Why shouldn’t I hire you?”

Flip this common question on its head and have your candidates expound on the reasons they might not be a great fit for your company. Maybe what they consider a weakness of theirs is actually a strength — or perhaps their honesty about not always being on time can allow them to raise the red flag themselves.  

2. “What would you do differently if you were starting your career over again?”

Rather than rehashing a candidate’s chronological work history, this question helps a candidate step back and take a big picture view of their career trajectory. This provides great insights into what the candidate believes to be their own strengths and weaknesses by offering their own honest assessment. Whether they believe better networking skills or a different education path may have set them up for more success, you’ll know your candidate possesses a certain amount of self-awareness that could come in handy when navigating a new office environment.

3. How do you like to be managed?”

Managers and employees may have vastly different working styles and sets of communication skills. By asking to elaborate on their preferred management style, you can see how your candidate might work with their manager or team and if they would make a cohesive fit.

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4. “When have you had a disagreement at work, and how did you handle it?”

Not everyone sees eye-to-eye all of the time. Understanding how your candidate reacts to and resolves situations where they might not get their way is crucial to seeing how they’ll acclimate to your team.

5. “What are some trends currently happening in the industry?”

This simple question can check how tuned in your candidate is into your given field. Whether you’re looking for a thought leader or someone with a basic understanding of how your industry functions, the answer will be a dead giveaway to how up-to-speed your candidate is.

6. “What are your hobbies or interests outside of work?”

Your candidates aren’t just cogs in a machine helping carry out a task — they’re human beings. Spend a few moments to explore what motivates your candidate outside of the workplace to get a greater sense of their personality, interests and how their outside pursuits might fit in with your work culture. Today’s candidates — especially millennials and Generation Z – place a premium on work-life balance and might be more tempted to accept an offer from an organization that gives them a better chance to embrace that balance.

7. “What could your current employer offer you in order to stay with them?”

Employees don’t always leave positions because they’re unhappy in their role; maybe they want a higher salary or upward mobility. This question can not only suss out your candidate’s needs—it will give you a window into how they truly feel about their current employer.

8. “Where else are you interviewing?”

There’s nothing worse than when a great candidate slips through your fingers and accepts a more enticing offer. This question lets you in on the other workplaces your candidate might be applying — including the competition. By placing the question in the present — where are they interviewing, rather where else have they applied —  you’ll be able to get a glimpse of how in-demand your candidate really is.

9. “Do you have any questions for me?”

Giving your candidate a chance to ask you questions doesn’t just help them understand aspects of the role they may have had before the interview — it can help shed light on anything that may have come up over the course of your conversation. Perhaps it was a throwaway comment about an oft-underutilized benefit or some additional responsibilities of the position that weren’t mentioned in the job description. Ensuring the candidate truly understands the role and company they’re considering working with will help avoid potential issues down the line.

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