Interview Questions to Consider Asking, Part 2

Part 1 of this is More Interview Questions Not to Ask, Part 1.

There are more questions from Interview Questions: Hiring Experts Reveal Their Favorites.

I had mixed feelings about these questions. You need to be a savvy interviewer to pull these off:
•    Describe an environment in which you would not thrive.
•    So you’re a Yankees fan. If you were their owner, how would make the team better?

They are hypothetical questions. Hypothetical questions beg the candidate to tell you what makes the candidate perfect, not what makes the candidate real. I would love to be perfect. I bet you would, too. However, I am real and human.

Don’t start with a hypothetical negative, when you can turn this into a behavior-description question so easily and make it great:

Tell me about a time when you thrived in an environment/project/team.

Now, does that tell you about a candidate? Even better, shorten it:

Give me a recent example about a time when you thrived.

Now, if you have been practicing your interview skills, after you ask that question, so a candidate is grounded in reality, you can ask,

Now, contrast that with a time when things weren’t so hot. Tell me about that. What were the differences?

You, the interviewer are asking the candidate to reflect in real time, about real life events. No hypothetical what-if, la-la land required. See how this is better?

By the way, there were some gems. The ones I liked were:

•    You’re a project manager? Tell me about a time you had a delayed project.
•    Describe a project in which you could not thrive.

These are both behavior-description questions.

I’m an experienced interview. I practice interviewing all the time. I never ask hypothetical questions. Never. Why? Because it’s too easy to fake an answer. But I always ask behavior-description questions. Because they are grounded in reality.

What do you do?

Look for Part 3, which is what do when you are interviewing and you encounter these questions. If you’re hiring, read Hiring Geeks That Fit, to learn how to ask questions.

About Johanna Rothman

I help managers and leaders do reasonable things that work.
This entry was posted in interview and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Interview Questions to Consider Asking, Part 2

  1. Jim Grey says:

    I use behavior-based questions too. I keep a list of them that I’ve used in the past, and for each interview cherry pick ones that I think will bring out what I want to know about the candidate’s ability to succeed in the role I have open. I usually end up writing custom questions for this role, too, and those questions go onto the master list.

  2. johanna says:

    Jim, that makes sense. If you use questions you’ve used in the past, you can refine them.

    I often ask new questions for each role, too. Great minds, and all that!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title="" rel=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>