For a recruiter, a job interview is meant to discover the candidate and to find out if he’d be a good fit for the available position. So without the right questions, a job interview is completely useless. It is the duty of the recruiter to ask the good questions that will allow him to pick the best candidate. And in order to do this, all recruiters need a minimum of preparation. Below are some tips inspired by the article “ABCs of Job Interviewing”, by James M. Jenks and Brian L.P. Zevnik (Harvard Business Review)

#1. Who are you looking for?

A candidate to recruit. Yeah and…? It might seem obvious at first but do not underestimate this phase as it is the foundation of the rest of the interviewing process. Know first who you’re looking for specifically, in function of the job description. Read this job description and take the time to establish a job profile based on it. Draw from the pre-requisites the qualities the candidate should have: what kind of responsibilities and duties are involved? And to which profile could you give them? It’s simply a matter of translation.

Once you’ve listed all that you’re looking for in your candidate, prioritized and hierarchized these pre-requisites by order of importance (degree, experience, skills etc.), you’ll have in mind the kind of individual you are looking for. You can then move on to the next step.

#2. What do you need to know?

Now that you have in mind both the job description and the job profile associated to it, prepare questions touching to the qualities and job requirements you are looking for. Don’t ask too many questions. Select the most important ones and you’ll let the candidates speak and develop. You’ll then adjust during the interview if you want them to get more specific. However, your questions must be well thought about. What do you really want to know? You need to check if the candidate is a good fit for the job. Is he willing to put on long hours? Is he good at decision-making? Would he fit well at your firm? Many questions touching diverse requirement areas.

#3. Mind the formulation

The content of your questions is extremely important. But never underestimate the impact of the formulation. Not only is it important to produce a clear, well structured and direct question, but many recruiters don’t realize the extent to which the logic behind the question is essential and can change the answer and therefore the outcome of the interview.

Here are 4 useful tips

  • Prefer open questions to closed ones.
    You need to avoid having straight one word answers “Yes” or “No”. You should rather offer the possibility to develop the answer. Make candidates speak. To ease that, in the formulation of your question, ask them about a past experience, what they would do, or their opinion. You can ask them to explain themselves when answering, using examples. Moreover, all this will allow you to assess the communication, reasoning and synthesis skills of candidates.
  • Check the candidate’s skills and know hows by asking about their past behaviors.
    You need to remember that focusing on past experiences is the best way to predict future performance. Ask the candidates how they reacted in a difficult situation in the past for instance. That way, it is not only their past experience you want to know about but also their behaviour:  you want to analyse it in order to be able to draw conclusions. It is highly likely that his personality being what it is, the candidate will react the same way in the future. It is a game of deduction. This means you’ll need to be able to assess whether he/she would be a good fit or not.
  • Always relate your questions to the firm. This is your starting point. Always.
    Never assume or imply anything about the candidate. Be careful with your biases. It could return against you. To avoid it and have a more constructive answer, always expose the situation of the company and the requirements of the job. And then ask the candidate how he/she feels about that. You can also simulate a situation to assess the candidate’s reactions and qualities.
  • Plan the order of your questions.
    In the case of a face-to-face interview, plan the order of your questions and try to stick to it. But don’t focus on it too much. Adapt yourself to the conversation and make it smooth. In the case of the pre-recorded interview solution InterviewApp offers it is no longer a problem! Just enter the questions you prepared for the candidate and he will have them in the order of your choice, with the chosen settings (time of preparation and response time). That’s a good option to consider…