Crafting Talent Interview Questions for Every Stage of the Job Interview Process

Your guide to structuring an interview process and asking the right questions.
Crafting Talent Interview Questions for Every Stage of the Job Interview Process

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When it comes time to hire you want to ask the right questions, at the right time, along with identifying the structure that will allow you to conduct the best interviews. Asking the right questions at the right time however, calls for understanding:

  • What you need from your candidate and the position you’re looking to fill
  • The proper interview structure, and questions
  • The role interviewers will play in this process, while also ensuring that they understand their role as well

All of which calls for a focused effort that increases the likelihood of making an informed decision.

Ask Yourself What You Need From The Position You’re Looking to Fill

First, ask yourself - what is the problem we are trying to solve?  What are the skills needed to solve that problem? Does our existing team have the ability to handle this?  When you’ve answered these questions, take it a step further and ask yourself: “how will you determine success in this position and what qualities will best fit with your existing office culture?”

Properly Structure the Interview Process & Questions

The first step in the hiring process  is the phone interview. The questions during this stage start with technical /job specific questions about the candidate’s previous work experience, which will allow you to determine if the candidate has the baseline knowledge for the role. We recommend taking time to study the candidates’ resume, doing your homework and learning about their work history, so you can dig into their knowledge and overall work experience.  Make sure the interviewer spends some time discussing the company and role, and “sells” the opportunity. The job seeker is going to be interviewing your company nearly as much as you are interviewing the job seeker.

The next stage is the on-site interview. During this stage you want to define roles and questions for each interviewer, and ensure that everyone involved understands what area of the job seeker’s background they should focus on.

The questions identified for these interviewers are driven by the interviewer’s position at your organization and their connection to the position you are interviewing for. This isn’t the time to invite just anyone to step into the process, you are looking for people who understand the role and the concerns you may have as related to that role.

Your goal is to avoid overlooking important information, and the subsequent need to schedule extra, unplanned interviews. You can avoid this, by ensuring that someone covers office culture, someone else is responsible for specific job related functions, another interviewer focuses on job history and so on.

Similarly, you also want to avoid redundancy in the information gathered, and you do so by ensuring that two to three people aren’t basically covering the same things.

While everyone involved needs to understand their role in the interview process, and the questions you want them to ask, you want to make sure that everyone involved understands the role the person is interviewing for as well, so that they can adequately sell the opportunity.

Address Your Concerns About the Candidate

You may have concerns about the candidate or find yourself questioning their potential shortcomings. You want to be clear that the interviewers understand these concerns and are prepared to adequately assess them. 

At times, concerns may remain after the on-site interview. For example, you cannot find the exact match you seek, or you remain unclear whether the best match available fits in with the office culture. When concerns like these remain, consider taking additional steps such as:

  1. Revisiting the interview process and how you’ve defined the need and the questions you’ve crafted. Ask yourself whether the need or questions can be refined, and if they can, address them, and then fix them.
  2. Inviting a candidate to join you for lunch, coffee or an office social event, to assess how they fit in with staff and office culture outside of the interview process.
  3. Recognizing that waiting for the perfect match may not happen for an extended period of time, if at all, If the perfect candidate isn’t out there - identify someone smart, with a background you like and that you know you can train, as opposed to interviewing for six + months.

Additional tips we recommend you consider:

  1. Ensure that the candidates understand the interview process, what to expect, when the stages will happen and who they will be meeting with and hearing from.
  2. Treat the interview as a conversation. There is a temptation to get through your questions, interrogate the candidate and try to catch them in a mistake or expose a gap in their knowledge. But you will learn more from having a conversation with the candidate, pausing between thoughts, and providing them, and you, with a chance to think.   
  3. Ask follow-up questions, taking time to review what the candidates add to their answers, whether they dig further into their decision-making and how they go about solving problems.
  4. Remember -  you must sell your organization, and the position you’re hiring for, to the job seeker. The perfect candidate will most likely have plenty of options - sell why your role is a great next step for their career!
  5. The goal of any interview process is to make an informed decision, and when you start the process with the proper structure and the proper focus, you increase the likelihood that you will find  the best candidate.

Final Thoughts

Hiring the best candidate requires you to ask the right questions at the right time. To accomplish this requires:

Defining the need and problem you’re looking to solve by filling the position you want to interview for.
It also calls for a structured, interview process...

That starts with a phone call focused on the candidates work history and how it fits with your needs, followed by an onsite interview where the interviewers identified understand both the role they’re interviewing for and their role in the process.

Taking the time to address lingering concerns by revisiting the process or scheduling another more informal meeting with the candidates... or both.

And then if something still isn’t working, or you need further support, let us know, we’re here to help.

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