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96 great interview questions to ask before you hire

AcknowledgmentsSome OptionsThe SolutionThe Piece de ResistanceBest Practices in Recruitment and SelectionLegal ComplianceBehavioral Interview QuestionsHow Is This Book Structured?High-Performance Questioning Techniques for a Competitive Business EnvironmentPutting Candidates at Ease and Building RapportOffice SettingThe ''First Impression'' OpenerThat Initial QuestionCaveats and Red FlagsA Final TipINTERVIEW QUESTIONS TO IDENTIFY HIGH-PERFORMANCE CANDIDATESFor Openers: Five Traditional Interview Questions and Their InterpretationsTell me about your greatest strength. What's the greatest asset you'll bring to our company?What's your greatest weakness?What was your favorite position, and what role did your boss play in making it so unique?What was your least favorite position? What role did your boss play in your career at that point?Where do you see yourself in five years? Achievement-Anchored Questions: Measuring Individuals' Awareness of Their AccomplishmentsWhat makes you stand out among your peers? What have you done in your present/last position to increase your organization's top-line revenues?What have you done to reduce your department's operational costs or to save time?What has been your most creative achievement at work? What would your current supervisors say makes you most valuable to them?Holistic Interview Queries: Challenging Candidates to Assess ThemselvesWhat are the broad responsibilities of a [job title]? What aspects of your job do you consider most crucial? How many hours a week do you find it necessary to work in order to get your job done?How does your position relate to the overall goals of your department or company?What area of your skills do you need to improve upon in the next year?Questions About Career StabilityHow many employees were laid off simultaneously? How many people survived the cut? How many waves of layoffs did you survive before you were let go yourself?What does growth mean to you?What will you do differently at your present company if you don't get this position?Searching for Patterns of Progression Through the RanksCan you describe how you've progressed through the ranks and landed in your current position at ABC Company?How have you added value to your job over time? How have you had to reinvent or redefine your job to meet your company's changing needs? What proactive steps did you have to take to increase the output of your position?Can you distinguish between your vertical progression through the ranks at your last/present company and your lateral assumption of broader responsibilities?What would be your next logical move in progression at your present company?Likability Equals Compatibility: Matching Candidates' Personalities to Your Organization's Corporate CultureWhat kind of mentoring and training style do you have? Do you naturally delegate responsibilities, or do you expect your direct reports to come to you for added responsibilities?Every company has its own quirks—its ''dysfunctionality quotient,'' so to speak. How dysfunctional was your last company, and how much tolerance do you have for dealing with a company's shortcomings and inconsistencies?How would you describe the amount of structure, direction, and feedback you need in order to excel?In terms of managing your staff, do you "expect" more than you "inspect," or vice versa?How do you approach your work from the standpoint of balancing your career with your personal life?Paint a picture of the corporate culture you'll create if we hire you. Do you operate under a more centralized and paternalistic agenda with power centralized in the hands of a few, or do you constantly push responsibility and accountability down the line?The College Campus RecruitWhy did you choose your [college/major]? How does your degree prepare you (a) for a career in [industry] or (b) to excel as a [job title]?What qualifications do you have beyond academics that qualify you to make a successful transition into business?Do you think your grades are a good indicator of your ability to succeed in business?What other types of positions and companies are you considering right now?Millennials—The Future Generation of Your WorkforceIf you were to accept this position with us today, how would you explain that to a prospective employer five years from now? How would this job provide a link in your future career progression?What was the most difficult ethical decision you've ever had to make in your career or during your education, and what was the outcome?How would you describe ''professional behavior'' in the workplace?I see you've had a tango or two at the Job Hoppers' Ball. Let's discuss how you plan on building your resume from a longevity standpoint.Who is your typical reading audience when you're writing something and what level of language do you use?Bonus Question: Where do you relate best: up one level, down one level, or with peers?Bonus Question: How would you grade yourself in terms of face-to-face communication, especially in terms of negotiation or confrontation? Do you consider that a strength or an area for personal development?The Sales Interview: Differentiating Among Top Producers, Rebel Producers, and Those Who Struggle to the MinimumsHow do you rank competitively among other account executives in terms of your production?What are the two most common objections you face, and how do you deal with them?Role-play with me, if you will, presenting yourself to me over the phone as if you were a headhunter. Can you convince me that this "product" you're selling is worth my time?How do you define your closing style? All salespeople need to find equilibrium between (a) high-volume production numbers and (b) quality. Which philosophy drives your sales style more?Tell me about the last time you failed to meet quota. How many times did that happen over the past year, and what plan of action did you take to get back on track?With no undue flattery, if you will, grade me on how well I'm conducting this interview: What can you tell me about my sales and management style on the basis of the questions I'm asking you?How important is the base salary component to you? Would you prefer a straight commission if it offered you the potential for an additional 35 percent in aggregate earnings over the base salary?Tell me about your quality ratios: How many prospects do you typically see before closing a sale?How much does production vary from desk to desk in your office?Senior Management Evaluations: Leaders, Mentors, and Effective Decision MakersCan you give me an example of your ability to facilitate progressive change within your organization?Tell me about the last time you inherited a problem unit—one suffering from poor productivity or low morale. What was the scope of the problem, and how were your direct reports affected?Did you create a culture of open information sharing and increased accountability by giving responsibility to your subordinates, or did you focus more on establishing their parameters and controlling the decision-making process?How do you typically stay in the information loop and monitor your staff's performance?How do you typically confront subordinates when results are unacceptable?Pressure Cooker Interview Questions: Assessing Grace Under FireTell me about your last performance appraisal. In which area were you most disappointed?In hindsight, how could you have improved your performance at your last position?Where do you disagree with your boss most often? How did you handle the last time she or he was wrong and you were right?How would your supervisor grade your ability to cope with last-minute change without breaking stride?Generic Interview Questions Known to Challenge Candidates in the Final Rounds of HireWhy do you want to work here? What do you know about our company? Can you tell me about your understanding of the job you're applying for?What can you do for us if we hire you, and when should we expect to see concrete results?SELECTING CANDIDATES AND MAKING THE OFFERReference-Checking Scenarios: Administrative Support StaffHow structured an environment would you say this individual needs to reach her maximum potential?Does this individual typically adhere strictly to job duties, or does he assume responsibilities beyond the basic, written job description?Can you comment on this person's ability to accept constructive criticism?How much do outside influences play a role in this individual's job performance?Would you consider this individual more of a task-oriented or a project-oriented worker?How does the candidate handle interruptions, breaks in routine, and last-minute changes?How would you grade the candidate's commitment to project completion?Reference-Checking Scenarios: Professional/ Technical CandidatesHow would you grade this candidate's capacity for analytical thinking and problem solving?Does this individual need close supervision to excel, or does she take more of an autonomous, independent approach to her work?How global a perspective does this candidate have? Do you see him eventually making the transition from a tactical and operational career path to the strategic level necessary for a career in senior management?How would you grade this candidate's listening skills? How effective is the candidate at delivering bad news? Will the person typically assume responsibility for things gone wrong?Please grade the individual's capacity for initiative and taking action. Does this person have a tendency to get bogged down in ''analysis paralysis''?Reference-Checking Scenarios: Senior Management CandidatesIs this candidate's management style more autocratic and paternalistic or is it geared toward a more participative and consensus-building approach?In terms of this individual's energy level, how would you grade his capacity for hustle?How does this individual approach taking action without getting prior approval?Is it this person's natural inclination to report to someone else for sign-off, or does the candidate operate better with independent responsibility and authority?After so many years in the business, is this candidate still on a career track for which she can sustain enthusiasm?How effective is this person at orchestrating a corporate ensemble of functional areas?Can you address the candidate's ability to cope with the significant pressures associated with senior management?Does this person ever delay the inevitable in terms of disciplining or dismissing employees?Is this individual inclined to maintain smooth and amicable relations at all costs, or is she more likely to show her teeth when faced with adversity?Does the candidate stay open to all sides of an argument before reaching a decision, or does he get personally involved in conflicts?Preempting the Counteroffer: Steering Candidates Clear of TemptationTell me again: Why do you feel the position you're applying for meets your career needs or why is working for our company so important for you?On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being you're really excited about accepting our offer, 1 being there's no interest), where do you stand?What would have to change at your present position for you to continue working there?Tell me about the counteroffer they'll make you once you give notice. If you gave notice right now, what would your boss say to keep you?Making the Offer and Closing the Deal: Questions to Ensure That Candidates Accept Your Job OffersWhat's changed since the last time we spoke? If you had to choose among three factors—(1) the company, (2) the position you're applying for, or (3) the people you'd be working with—which would you say plays the most significant role in your decision to accept our offer?If we were to make you an offer, tell me ideally when you'd like to start. How much notice would you need to give your present employer?Can you share with me what final questions I can answer to help you come to an informed career decision?At what dollar level would you accept our job offer, and at what dollar level would you reject it?KEY INTERVIEWING, REFERENCE-CHECKING, AND RECRUITMENT ISSUESStaying Within the Law: Interview Questions to Avoid at All Costs!Inappropriate Question 1: ''What's your maiden name so that I can check your references?''Inappropriate Question 2: ''How old are you? What year were you born? When did you graduate from high school?''Inappropriate Question 3: ''Where were you born? Are you a U.S. citizen? Where did you learn to speak Spanish?''Inappropriate Question 4: ''Are you married? Are you planning on having children in the next few years? Can you make adequate provisions for child care?''Inappropriate Question 5: ''Would your religion prevent you from working weekends?''Inappropriate Question 6: ''Are you disabled? Do you have any previous major medical problems? Have you ever filed for workers' compensation? How many days were you sick last year? Do you have AIDS? What prescription drugs are you currently taking? Have you ever been treated for alcoholism or mental health problems?''Inappropriate Question 7: ''Have you ever been arrested?''Inappropriate Question 8: ''What kind of discharge did you get from the military?''Inappropriate Question 9: ''Have you ever declared bankruptcy or had your wages garnished?''Inappropriate Question 10: ''Who is the nearest relative we should contact in case of an emergency?''Allowable Preemployment Queries Under the ADATelephone Screening Interviews: Formats and Follow-Ups for Swift Information GatheringCompany and Job InformationSuccess ProfileAssessment of Candidate's NeedsGetting Real Information from Reference ChecksHow to Get Employers to Open Up to You During the Reference-Checking ProcessBackground ChecksFCRA Disclosure RulesFCRA Adverse Action RulesCivil Records ChecksSocial Networks as a Form of Background ScreeningReinventing Your Company's Employment ApplicationI: Our History/Who We Are/Why Work at XYZ?II: The Hiring ProcessIII: Starting Salaries and Performance ReviewsIV: BenefitsV: For More InformationMaximizing Your Recruitment ResourcesRecruitment Option 1: Contingency Search FirmsRecruitment Option 2: Retained Search Firms, or "Headhunters"Recruitment Option 3: The Blended "Con-Tainer" ArrangementRecruitment Option 4: Research FirmsRecruitment Option 5: Outplacement Firms' Job Development DepartmentsInterviewer's Checklist: The 96 QuestionsAbout the Author