The Most Important Job Interview Questions to Ask a Candidate

Woman Sitting At Panel Interview

I’m a big fan of Lou Adler and his performance based interviewing techniques. Taking a page out of his book I’d have to say the most important job interview question to ask a candidate is this one —

What is your most significant achievement in your career?

During the job interview you should be spending at least 20-30 minutes on this area alone. Ask the candidate to give you an overview of the project or accomplishment and the results that were delivered. Then drill down to find out what they enjoyed most about the project, what some of the major challenges were, and how they overcame them.
What did they learn in the process? Who else was involved? What was their particular role? Now you’ve got them talking and the key is to listen for clues, and openings to ask more questions. For example if team orientation is of primary concern listen for:

  • How they talk about other peoples’ contributions to the achievement?
  • How they translate their significant achievement to the success of their employer?
  • Whether they talk in “I” or “We” mode?

Another important job interview question – for serious candidates only!

Describe a critical aspect of the job you’re interviewing them for, then ask the candidate what they would need to know or do to deliver on your expectations. Let’s say you’re filling a sales manager role. The challenge is that you have been seeing a drop in performance by your otherwise star sales reps and you feel that they aren’t being upfront with you about why. Ask them how they would go about solving this problem.

You want to listen and learn about their ability to look at the big picture, consider options, ask the right questions, focus on essentials, and put a cost-effective and time sensitive strategy together. And the most important consideration in evaluating their overall fit is whether or not they can build and execute a workable action plan that might actually fit your corporate culture and values.

Asking the right interview questions will enable you to probe deeper into a candidate’s qualifications. With practice you’ll soon have every serious candidate offering up essential information during the interview. This is critical hiring information that will inform you about their past and current workplace motives, values and tactical and behavioural competencies.

More insightful information for recruiting professionals, businesses and individuals looking to improve a career can be found on our Recruiters Blog. Subscribe with us to stay in touch.



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This post has been approved for public release by Barbara Ashton. All certified posts carry this Google Authorship link to Google