In posing carefully crafted questions to candidates, all interviewers run the risk of unearthing answers they might not like. However, that is the point. Great questions will tell you what you need to hear, even if it is not what you were hoping for. In Part 2 of this series, we will deal with the hard to ask questions.
- Always ask about gaps in the resume. What happened between XX date and YY date?
The answers may be perfectly acceptable – had a baby, the division was down sized despite me being the top performer. More ominous answers could be “performance,” “Our division always lost money,” or “I didn’t get on with the Manager.” The latter may be legitimate reason, or an early warning red flag. However, the principal remains solid – always delve into the gaps during your interview.
- Ask people about their social media presence.
This is a tricky subject. One must phrase questions carefully not to fall fowl of the discrimination laws or invasion of privacy. For example, “I saw on your Facebook page you like bare knuckle boxing. How has this affected your ability to work in the past?” If the candidate has chosen a public forum to announce a topic that may affect future employment, you can bring the subject up.
- Have you ever been fired from a position?
This is one of the rare questions that is asked in closed format. The answer will be yes, or no. Only yes answers require further investigation. People may have a fair and reasonable reason for being fired. I, for example, was fired for telling the management at a restaurant, that the Chef was selling food past the sell by date. I later found out, it was under the Managements’ supervision. Less than desirable answers might be “theft,” “tardiness,” “didn’t get along with colleagues,” “lack of technical knowledge,” “blamed for the projects failure,” etc. All require further questioning and analysis.
- What was your worst moment in your career and how did you deal with it?
With this question, one is hoping that the candidate will have had a tough experience, but then worked out how to triumph over adversity. It forces the candidate in to some real introspection, as this question is seldom asked. However, the desired result and the actual answer are frequently not aligned. Answers will vary widely and may require substantial further lines of interrogation, especially when recruiting for higher level, management type roles.
- What is your current salary or package?
A very simple question which some newbie Recruiters, Management, or HR occasionally find difficult to ask. People feel that in some way, it is an invasion of privacy. However, if the role is offering $80k, and the candidate is already on $115k, this type of information is vital. A similar and possibly more ominous answer could be that the role is paying $130k and the candidate’s current salary is $78k. That answer would immediately strike up a new line of questioning as to whether the candidate had the appropriate skills, certifications, and/or experience.
- Why are you looking to move to this location or commute to this job?
Only applicable where relocation, or a long, long commute is the likely outcome. Many of the hardest to fill roles are in cities with horrendous commutes, or jobs in less than obvious locations. We provide high quality candidates to the IT departments of hospitals across America. Some of the most difficult to fill are in geographically challenged locations, or in cities where a 10 mile commute takes over an hour. Always dig deep into the answer to this question, as one doesn’t want to commit to a candidate that has no real interest in the job in the long term, or will bail because of the commute as soon as a local position comes available.
Please provide us with your input and advice on this topic. Feel free to add your own comments on LinkedIn, or email us at email@example.com.
As mentioned in the title, this is post 2 of this 3 part series. The next will be released later in the upcoming weeks.
Part one can be found here.