We read a lot of articles about stupid interview questions, over-the-top interview questions, crazy new interview practices and involving various social scores into the interview process. But what are some of the most common interview questions?
For those of you just starting out or wanting to get back to the basics, here (in no particular order and barring the obvious “What’s your name?”), are some of the most common interview questions:
“Tell us about yourself.”
Here you’re looking to see if the candidate can stay on task. In an interview setting, you want to hear the candidate’s professional accomplishments. If they get off track, perhaps there’s a reason for it, such as lack of career depth or sheer nerves. On the other hand, maybe they just want to tell you about their life. Keep this section short and sweet and listen.
“What do you know about our organization?”
Did they do their homework? A candidate who has done some research on your company is a serious candidate. They should know what direction your company is headed and be familiar with your brand and what your main products and services are. The way in which they can relay information about your organization is a good indicator of how they feel about your company culture and a no-nonsense way to discern who actually cares about getting the gig.
“What makes you different?”
There should be no hesitation. You have given the candidate an invitation to bullet point their strengths. Are they ready to highlight what sets them apapart? If they’re not, there’s really no excuse for it. Self-starter, hard worker, and works well with others are typical answers and are to be expected, but hopefully you’ll hear something a little more with this answer. When you do, take that opportunity to dig even deeper.
“What important trends do you see in our industry?”
While some jobs are tactical in nature, in the startup and small business culture, this question is really important. Are they stumped? Then perhaps they aren’t a significant part of your industry’s community. With the huge tech boom that we’re experiencing, odds are there is a new technology significant to their position. While it’s important for them to know, it’s also important for YOU to know.
“What did you like least/most about the position you are leaving?”
This is another great feeler for how they will adapt to, or add to your company culture. This question allows you to guage their attitude. Are they concentrating on the positive, or are they stuck on the negative? How much accountability are they taking for their job changes?
“What are your long-range goals?”
“Uhhhh”, is exactly what you don’t want to hear here. This is a great way to ga-ge their potential for long term retention. A candidate who sets goals for themselves and has a plan, is a candidate who will be here for the long haul. If they express interest in moving up in the company, how do they plan to make it happen?
“Why are you leaving your current position?”
Again, note their tone. Are they remaining in the positive? Even if they departed on bad terms, are they able to put a positive twist on it? Of course you don’t want a candidate who will lie to you, but you do want a candidate who is smart enough to be able to present a negative in a positive manner.
“What motivates you at work?”
This is another great way to see how they will fit into your company culture. A source of motivation says a lot about a person. Are they driven by money, success or autonomy? It is also a great indicator of where you can make compromises concerning the compensation package. (Hint: most candidates won’t say money.)
“Tell us what led you to this industry.”
Did they stumble into this position, or is it a passion of theirs? You can tell a difference in the work of somone who genuinely enjoys what they do, vs someone who may be in it for a paycheck. Pay attention to their delivery. Do they sound excited about the journey they’ve been on, or is there a passive attitude when speaking about their path? You should also note if they are taking this opportunity to showcase some of their achievements along the way.
“Do you have any questions for us?”
A candidate who is taking this interviewing process seriously should come ready with questions. Career moves are a serious part of life and they should be handled as such. If the candidate doesn’t have any questions about the position, the company or expectations, this might be a red light. It could indicate a lack of interest or commitment.