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6 must-ask interview questions to find the best candidates

Posted: 8 Jun 2017

6 must-ask interview questions to find the best candidates

If you were only allowed six questions to quiz a candidate in an interview, what would they be?

Hiring managers sometimes feel the need to ask ‘creative’ questions, which only serve to discourage good candidates and could even result in a bad hire. You know the sort of questions we mean: ‘How many petrol stations are there in the UK?’ or ‘How would you fit an elephant in a fridge?’

However, with the cost of a poor hire ranging from anywhere between £8,000 and £50,000, it’s time to focus on the questions that will yield the best candidate for the job.

Those annoying brainteaser questions might not be as useless as some research would have you believe; if nothing else, they give you an insight into how a candidate’s brain works.

But we think there are better ways to go about finding a person who thinks in a way which will aid them in their work.
Here are six interview questions that will help you identify the great from the good (and not-so good) candidates:


1. “Why should we hire you?”

Short, simple and direct. This is the question that all interviewees expect to be asked so they ought to come armed with an answer explaining how their unique experience, education, industry credentials and personal interests position them as the ideal candidate for the job on offer.

If they can’t put together an answer which sets out their skills against what is required for the role, you can straight away mark their card as someone who isn’t quite up for the task.


2. “Tell me how you go about achieving difficult goals.”

Chances are you’re going to want somebody who is goal-oriented and results-driven. This question will allow you to see how candidates will approach the difficult goals you have lined up for them. You’ll want to hear evidence of how they went about achieving their goals in the past and the work ethic required to get there.


3. “Tell me about the people you’ve worked with – who you got on best with and who you clashed with.”

It’s just as important that the candidate will prove as good a fit with the business in reality as they do on paper. It’s as much about having the right personality for the team as it is the requisite skills. In their answer to this question, you’ll be able to get a feel for how they interact with others and the types of people that they work well – and not so well – with.


4. “Briefly explain something to me that is complicated but you know well.”

A much better question than simply asking: “What are you passionate about?” As well as acting as a window into the type of person they are, it’s a chance for them to showcase their intelligence and charisma. The answer doesn’t have to be work-related, but at the same time, if they find themselves getting passionate about issues relating to work, all the better.


5. "Is it better to be perfect and late, or good and on time?"

Can anything ever be considered perfect in business? Everything can be improved upon to some extent. That can be a troubling notion for perfectionists, who won’t let anything go out the door until they are 100% happy with it. This mindset can lead to deadlines being missed, which could mean costly consequences down the line.

So, the correct answer is “good and on time”, but if a candidate can make a case for the former, that considers the importance of deadlines, then they shouldn’t be dismissed.


6. “What is your notice period?”

This question can’t help but make candidates a little optimistic. However, the reason you should ask it is not to feel out candidates’ keenness for the role, but for practical reasons – their notice period will need to fit with how quickly you need to fill the role.

If they say they are free to start straight away with no notice needed, why is that? Are they currently out of work, contrary to what their CV says? At the same time, there could be good reason for it.

It’s all part of getting a good feel for the candidate – and letting candidates give a good account of themselves. Interview questions should be challenging, but not cripplingly so. Otherwise all you’ll be left with is the candidates who are best at winging it.

Why not speed up the process of finding the perfect fit by letting Stopgap help? We can search through hundreds of CVs and reach out to our vast network of candidates so you see the best candidates on offer.

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