How to prevent your interviews from scaring off the talent

27 February 2015 -


You need top staff when times are hard. So when you’re interviewing, ask great questions – and above all, don’t alienate your candidates

Caitlin Mackesy Davies

There’s no doubt that recruiting talent is one of the most critical activities for an organisation to reach its SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely goals). It is also clear that conducting the necessary interviews is one of the most difficult – often dreaded – tasks that managers have to undertake. Much of the anxiety stems from confusion about choosing the questions that get the best from a candidate. Here are a few suggestions that should help you get more out of your interview hour.

ASK: What is the most useful criticism you have received? How did you address it?

WHY: It gives you an idea of how aware the candidate is of their weaknesses and also how they respond to criticism or advice from colleagues and managers. How keen are they to improve?

ASK: Tell me of a time you organised a group

WHY: It offers evidence of how well they worked with others in a leadership role and also lets the candidate highlight a specific event that is important to them. What did they learn? How do they get along with others?

ASK: About which activity or interest are you most passionate?

WHY: Whether they choose something work-related or a hobby, you’ll be looking for someone who is able to communicate real enthusiasm and commitment, and who gets you excited about it, too!

ASK: When you have ever had to change someone’s mind? What did you do?

WHY: By exploring a concrete example, you’ll find out how the candidate interacts with others and what strategies they use to influence a colleague, team or other decision maker.

ASK: Is there anything I can tell you about the company/role?

WHY: You’ll find out whether candidates have done their homework about your organisation and what their priorities are for the future (do they ask how fast people get promoted, for instance?). And you’ll show you care about giving them the facts that they need to join your team.

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