Tips for asking insightful interview questions

How much do you really learn about a person during an interview? Standard interview answers can sound very rehearsed and often differ very little between candidates.
So, how do you find out exactly how a candidate will react to a particular scenario if they joined your team?

Getting to know your candidate

You already know the candidate’s work history from reviewing their CV, but the interview is your chance to really find out how suitable they are for your role. You stand a much better chance of getting to know your candidate by asking insightful interview questions rather than listing off the standard ones such as “why do you want to work here?”
Asking insightful interview questions encourages candidates to give their answers in the form of real life examples. Candidates might feel safer giving you an answer they think you want to hear, but answering a behavioural question is more difficult. They’ll have to relay a past circumstance to you that shows how they turned a bad situation around or how they dealt with a certain issue etc.

Examples of insightful interview questions

  • “Tell me about a time when you made a wrong decision in the workplace.”
Getting the candidate to talk about a mistake they’ve made often shows more about their character or professional manner than when they discuss their successes. If they shy away from the question it might mean they made a blunder but couldn’t fix it. What you want to find out is how well they coped, whether they took responsibility and made it their business to resolve the situation.
  • “Explain the last piece of constructive criticism you received and how you reacted.”
This question gives insight into what the candidate’s last employer asked them to improve on. Following up with a question like “how did you go about implementing this change?” can reassure you that they take on board criticism in order to improve the way they work.
  • “Describe a time you had to make a difficult choice at work.”
The response you’ll get to this question will show you the candidate’s thought process and how they went about making the decision. Depending on what role you’re hiring for, you might be looking for the candidate to talk you through their logic, or you might be more concerned with how the candidate wanted to get results.
Using follow up questions is straight forward, and will lead to a smoother interview. Avoid closed questions; if the candidate is only given the opportunity to answer ‘yes’ and ‘no’ the interview will be very stop, start and you won’t learn anything.
For help sourcing the best candidates for your roles contact your local Michael Page office.