A Guide to Asking Better Interview Questions

It’s time to hire a new employee. Whether you’re replacing someone who departed or creating a new job due to business growth, finding the perfect person for the position is a crucial task for any business owner. Asking the right questions during the interview is even more crucial, and behavior-based questions can answer much more than the standard interview questions.

Potential employees prepare for interviews and expect typical questions during the process. Employers who go a step beyond the first layer of questions – i.e. the typical “tell me about your successes and failures” – can better determine who will best serve their company.

By using behavior-based interviewing, employers can best predict the future. Humans are, by nature, creatures of habit. Asking specific questions about real-life situations allows interviewers to use past behaviors to predict how any employee will react in a particular environment. After identifying specific experiences and responses, you can better understand the innate behaviors, knowledge, abilities and skills of potential applicants.

“All candidates will demonstrate particular behaviors, and this type of interview allows employers to get beyond the prepared answers and learn about what the candidate truly brings to the table,” says Melissa Trocko, Insperity director of recruiting.

Determine what traits of the job are most important to assess. Make a list of three to five characteristics that an ideal candidate will bring to the table and focus the questions on these behaviors. If current employees are successful in similar positions, analyze their personality strengths.

For example, if trustworthiness is paramount in the position, ask about a time when a situation challenged their ethics, how they responded and their thoughts about the results of their choices. If the person will be a key team member as the company grows and/or changes, ask if they have ever met resistance when implementing a new idea or policy to a work group, if so how they dealt with it and about the end result.

If the interviewee can’t offer an example of when they encountered resistance, they likely aren’t too well-versed on managing during times of change, a red flag for an employer if such experience is paramount to the job requirement.

Each interview is unique and each position will require a different type of behavior-based kind of question, and employers should use the following prompts to develop interview questions:

  • Ask for a specific situation
  • Determine what tasks were accomplished and actions the interviewee took
  • Define the results

Resumes are written to put the applicant in a position to get the job. The interview is a time for employers to truly assess the person behind the paper. Behavior based interviews can be an effective tool for employers, allowing them to better identify which candidate will best serve their business.