Key questions for choosing the best job candidate

You’ve navigated the hiring process and are down to a few equally qualified candidates for one key position. How do you make an informed choice? Your answer lies in knowing what interview questions to ask and how to assess each job candidate’s answers.

“Well-thought-out, scripted questions, written specifically for each job and asked to each and every candidate, are critical to every interview,” says Lissa Weimelt, principal of The Hiring Experts, an executive search company. “Managers need to predetermine key success factors — not skills or experience — needed in the job or company.”

These questions and interviewing strategies will help you get the information you need to choose the best job candidate.

Identify the candidate’s success factors

According to studies, employee success factors include a job candidate’s character traits, habits, motivators, teamwork skills, reaction to failure or success, and ability to manage stress or change. Weimelt urges managers to listen carefully for clues to the candidate’s approach to each one. At the end of the candidate’s answer, ask yourself: What did I learn about her that translates to success in our company?

It’s also helpful to understand the job candidates’ weaknesses. Can they be coached to improve? Also, determine their motivation for job hunting. Are they running from something or to new opportunities?

Use interview questions that differentiate candidates

Curtis Crawford, corporate consultant and author of Corporate Rise: The X Principles of Extreme Personal Leadership, recommends asking these questions to help reveal key differences among job applicants:

  • What are the significant attributes you believe you offer that should substantially differentiate you from the others? Why should we select you as the next employee?
  • Do you believe there is a significant difference between invention and innovation? If so, please share your perspective.
  • How do you describe your long-term career aspirations, and what do you expect from this company in your pursuit?
  • Do you believe that this company should place a higher value on managers who have consistently produced outstanding financial results or those who consistently demonstrate the ability to develop successful employees?

Use questions that help make tough decisions

Crawford says tough questions are useful when making tough hiring decisions. Questions like these can help sort out the good job candidates from the best:

  • Which is most important to you: money, power or prestige? If none of the above, what motivates you to perform at your highest capability?
  • Since this company is not the current leader in this industry, if you had an opportunity to work for either us or our main competitor, which company would you choose? Why?
  • What motivates you to pursue and ultimately achieve outstanding results, and what do you consider the best reward for great work?
  • Are role models important to you? If so, do you have any professional or personal role models who inspire you to achieve greatness? Are you comfortable sharing them with me, or would you prefer to keep it personal?
  • What is the one word you believe best describes your style?

Use questions that surprise interviewees

Management consultant Regina Barr, owner of Red Ladder, suggests looking for the “flinch factor.” Ask questions that may surprise the interviewee, and take note of not only the answers but also body language and the reaction to a pressure situation. Consider these examples:

  • Tell me about one of your biggest failures. What did you learn from the experience?
  • Tell me about something you did that you regret. Why did you do it, and what did you learn from it?
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to conform to a policy you disagreed with. Describe that experience and your response to it.

Marni Hockenberg, principal of The Hiring Experts, cautions that “some managers dig to find the reason not to hire a qualified prospect. If you look long enough, reasonable doubt exists in any candidate.” Having a structured interview process will help you identify somebody who is a good fit and get your next good employee on board more quickly.

To choose the best, you first need to find the best — and Monster is here to help

Good interview questions help once you have good candidates, but first you have to find them. That’s where we come in. Monster is a time-tested leader in the world of talent recruitment and management, and we have effective and practical insights for your business. Connect with Monster Hiring Solutions today for the latest in expert recruiting tips, hiring trends, and more.