July 9, 2014

The Best Interview Questions Asked By an Employer and the Best Candidate Responses

“Trendy” interview questions on the internet drive us crazy. Employers, you’re recruiting talent, not  trying to be cool. “How many cows are there in Canada?” isn’t going to get a skilled and qualified candidate to give you meaningful information. Candidates, you may not shine without a question’s connection to your responsibilities.

Employers - Great questions get past “the forehead” of the candidate. Legal questions eliciting relevant responses will determine the right fit. Seek the candidate’s locus of control (extent to which individuals believe that they can control events that affect them). Locus of control is either internal (the person believes they can control their life) or external (they believe that their decisions and life are controlled by environmental factors that they cannot influence, or by chance or fate). We want the former.

Candidates - Give truthful responses so you never have to “squirm.” Squirming happens when you are lying, have something to hide, or are trying to fit a round peg into a square hole. Be honest and comfortably confident. Answering the way you think an interviewer wants backfires. You can “hold your belly in for so long,” but you’ll let it out sooner or later. Know your strengths/weaknesses, go to the internet and research the company before the interview, and know your resume.

We’ve crafted a few favorite questions and the associated answers we would appreciate hearing:

Q: Tell us about a time when you reached a goal.

A: Have an example – work related not personal – prepared. This is a success/failure question. Include others in your story and be humble. Smart candidates link their own experience with the job description.

Q:  What do you love about work and why?

A: Your response should cause you to light up and have passion. Control your non-verbals. Truthful answers aren’t on the ceiling. Avoid looking up and creating something from thin air. We’re looking for a long-term values match.

Q: What is it that you are working on when you lose all track of time?

A:  Answer with what gives you joy. That thing that makes you wonder, “How did six hours pass so quickly?” Are you building something? Are you volunteering? It could be work related, or if not, then relate it to the position.

Q: How is disagreement valuable in the workplace?

A:  We value disagreement because it results in growth in the organization. There is always more than one right answer. This is supposed to make you uncomfortable. Don’t squirm.

Remember, relevant tops trendy every time in our HR world. We want good results for the company and the candidate.

Jim Annis is president/CEO of The Applied Companies, which provide HR solutions for today’s workplace. Celeste Johnson, Tom Miller, and Suzanne Chennault, Applied’s division directors, contributed to this article.

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