In such a competitive, candidate-driven market, it is imperative to have an effective, well-thought-out interview process in order to set yourself apart from the competition and hire the right person for the right job.

Interviewing is a lot like dating—you want to have a good experience as the hiring manager, and you also want to create a great experience for your candidate. Many hiring managers think they can just wing it during interviews, not investing the time, energy, or resources to ask the right questions that affect your business and allow you to determine if the candidate will be a good fit with the community’s culture. This lack of preparedness can be detrimental to any organization. By hiring the wrong person, you risk having underperforming employees that can lose the community money and productive time, as well as hurt the community’s invaluable reputation.

Read on for some insightful tips on how to create a great experience for your candidate and make sure your hiring managers are prepared by asking the right questions.

Put the candidate first.

Before asking any interview questions, review the job description and, especially, the hiring criteria, as well as everything the candidate provided; e.g., online profile, cover letter, resume, references, letters of recommendation. This will prepare you with knowledge of  the candidate’s background, education, and experience as well as give you a general sense of their attitude, aptitude, and ability, to be able to determine if they would fit your community’s culture.

Ask the right questions.

Prior to interviewing the candidate, write down questions you want to ask based on their background and experience. It’s okay to have a core set of routine questions that you ask each candidate, but it’s important to also ask targeted questions as to who they are and their prior experiences. Make sure to ask a series of questions in different formats (e.g., open- and closed-ended, hypothetical, and fun questions). Asking open-ended questions will require the candidate to think and give you a more concrete analysis of their learning and behavior style. Closed-ended questions will give you quick answers that you can follow up with an additional probing question to learn more details. Hypothetical questions also require the candidate to problem-solve. Fun questions are unrehearsed and allow the candidate to think outside the box on the spot!

Interview questions to consider:

  • Closed-ended Questions:
    • How long were you at your last employer?
    • Are you open to traveling?
    • What are your salary expectations?
    • Oftentimes, we require you to work on call outside of typical working hours—are you okay with that?
    • Do you have a bachelor’s degree in xx field?
    • Is company culture important to you?
  • Open-ended Questions:
    • Tell me about a time you had a disagreement with a coworker.
    • How did you hear about this job opportunity?
    • Why do you want to work for this community?
    • Oftentimes, we have conflicting deadlines—how do you prioritize your time?
    • How do you handle stress?
    • Tell me about your top accomplishments in your last job; what made you successful?
    • Tell me about a mistake you made in a prior job and what you learned from it.
  • Hypothetical Questions:
    • If you were the supervisor of this department and it was not meeting productivity levels, what would you do?
    • Let’s say you were given a large budget for employee recognition programs, how would you spend it?
    • If you could choose anyone in our industry as your mentor, who would it be and why?
    • If you were on a project and had a team member that wasn’t pulling his/her own weight, what would you do?
    • If you were the hiring manager for this position, what qualities would you look for in the right candidate?
  • Fun Questions (one or more of the following):
    • Are you a cat or dog person?
    • If you could be a candy bar, which one would you choose and why?
    • If you were an animal, which one would you choose and why?
    • If your life was a song, which one would you choose and why?
    • If you could possess any super power, which one would you choose and why?

The Wrap-up

Make sure to conclude your interview with the candidate by letting them know when they can expect a decision and how they will hear from you, e.g., by email, mail, or phone. Be realistic and let them know it may take a while or, if you are looking to move quickly, what the next steps will be. After that, ask them if they have questions. Allow time for some small talk to get to know the candidate outside of the interview. Make sure to write down your notes/impressions during the interview and share with other team members who are also interviewing to compare candidates and make a well-informed decision.

We hope you enjoyed reading some of these insightful TIPS to the interview process. Interviewing can be difficult, but it can also be fun, so long as you prepare! Happy interviewing!

sarah-friede-interview-expertAuthored by:
Sarah Friede
Executive Recruiter