The best interview questions to ask candidates remains debated, but leading practice has narrowed it to a few standard types. This post will outline these main interview question types with samples for employers – including guidance on assessing candidate answers.
Types of interview questions
A common way to start an interview is with open-ended questions, like “tell me about yourself” and “why are you interested in this job?” This gives the candidate time to settle into the interview with straightforward introductions. It also allows them a chance to show how interested, prepared, and qualified they are for the position.
Hiring managers often want to ask technical questions about specific knowledge and skills, such as quality control procedures. If technical topics are discussed in the interview, include them as confirmation in combination with other sources. For instance, you can check references and certifications, administer skills assessments, and conduct simulations of key job requirements.
Many modern interviews are built around past examples when the candidate demonstrated a competency required for the new position. Examples may be also related to the mission and culture of the organization. If safety is a core company value, you might ask how the candidate showed they value safety in a past situation.
Behavioral interview question examples
“Tell me about a time you worked on a difficult team.”
If you are hiring for a large brewery where many different personalities need to work together efficiently, you will be looking for a candidate who can describe the different perspectives in their past team and how he or she met the diversity of needs to achieve a common goal.
Strong candidates may acknowledge they were frustrated in the moment and explain the steps they took to channel that emotion to relate to team members in a constructive way.
“Describe for me something that made you curious recently.”
If you are hiring for a craft brewery that depends on creativity and passion, this question gives your candidate opportunity to share how they approach learning and self-initiative. Depending on the job and organization, you may be listening for someone who will focus diligently on a challenge until they find a creative solution.
Also pay attention to how they looked for ways to learn – did they reach out to coworkers, teach themselves, scour the internet for an obscure message forum? How does this line up with the way they would be expected to learn in the vacant position?
A part (or the majority) of your interview can be asking the candidate how they would handle situations you describe to them. These kinds of questions are more forward focused on what the candidate could and would do in the position you are hiring them for. An advantage is you are not relying on them having had recent opportunity to demonstrate their approach.
Situational interview question examples
For a Head Brewer, you can get a sense of leadership and communication skills by asking:
“If you became the new leader of a team that operated like a family, how would you challenge them to create new beer styles?”
For a sales rep, you might ask about an important or common situation, such as:
“What steps would you take to encourage a customer to try a new beer syle?”
Assessing interview answers
Best practice for job interviews is to create a guideline for the organization and a process to customize for each position. Beyond the questions you ask, the most important guidance for hiring managers is how to evaluate the responses. You may want to provide a structure of points per question and a weight of how important each question is for the hiring decision.
How to assess behavior-based interview answers
While the context of the example helps to understand it, the important information is in the specific actions the candidate took in that example and the results of those actions. Were they successful and how do they know? You are looking for a more objective measure, like improved productivity or reduced complaints. This also reveals the candidate’s awareness of their impact on the company’s objectives.
Some candidates tend toward using “we” to give the team credit or they may want to rush to the end, past the steps they took as individuals. If the candidate does not provide this detail, it is worth asking. You are not evaluating them on their interviewing skills – you are evaluating their past behavior as a predictor of future behavior.
How to assess situation-based interview answers
Situational questions give candidates the opportunity to demonstrate their thinking process. How would they assess the situation, make a decision, and implement strategy?
It also reveals their ability to deal with uncertainty because they must respond with incomplete information. Do they identify what information they would seek out before acting and how? Would that level of research before decision, or planning before action, suit your work environment?
In advance of the interview, document specific expectations from the response. Still, ensure those expectations are broad enough for diverse perspectives. Be careful not to look for duplicates of current employees, but rather consider what attributes contribute to success in this position at your organization. Identify what the new employee must bring to the job and what you can teach them. Creativity, for instance, is a lot harder to learn than equipment.
Traditionally, hiring managers would have a casual conversation with each candidate and often based their hiring decision on rapport. The candidate’s demonstration of qualities in person, such as professionalism and communication skills, are relevant. Still, most of your interview evaluation should be based on behavior-based and/or situation-based interview questions relevant to the job and the organization. Even better, the evaluation criteria for interview answers should be clarified in advance for the best hiring decision.
Post by: Jessica Collins