5 critical questions for the interviewer to make your interview more impactful

5 critical questions for the interviewer to make your interview more impactful

How often have you been interviewing someone and received a blank stare after a question, or the interviewee starts to bite their fingers and look at you with a grimace of despair. Alternatively, they have gone off track and started telling you something so unrelated to a specific competency that you wonder, “what did I ask them in the first place?”.

Asking selective and ordered follow up behavioural-based questions can delve into the candidate’s actions, thought processes and reactions. They give you a more fine-grained understanding of how the person has behaved, acted, or thought. They shed light and reflection on the candidate’s strengths, intentions, capabilities, thinking and areas for growth.

These behavioural follow-up questions should follow a format and here are 5 that I have found very useful to tap into to achieve a meaningful interview:

  1. How did you approach this? Actions and tasks (listen to see how the actions were planned and the tasks involved).
  2. Why did you choose that approach? This gives you a great insight into the choices the candidate made and the reasoning behind it. Was it a “fluke” that it turned out well or was it conscious planning decisions.
  3. What was the outcome? This often tells us what the result was. Was it a positive result or a negative result? To quote Julius Caesar “I came, I saw and I conquered” or was it more “I came, I saw and I ran away”. One may probe further here to understand the impact on others or the effect on the business.The next two questions are probably the most important as they indicate whether the candidate will be able to take their learnings and apply them to new experiences and situation
  4. What were your takeaways from this?
  5. Have you used those learnings in a different situation?

The important thing with these last two questions is to ask the person to think through examples where they have applied them and what may have resulted from this.

Using effective behavioural-based questions turns an interview into a thought provoking and challenging opportunity for the candidate, providing revelations of hidden flaws and strengths, giving the interviewer the ability to know what will work and what needs development. It also allows the interviewer to assess the potential employees higher level thinking.

The ability to evaluate a competency (a particular behaviour for a role) or skill by probing and investigating can remove some of the vagueness and uncertainty from the decision-making of an interview. It removes the gut instinct and hence gives you the confidence to make some of the most critical people decisions with clarity and evidence!


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