Instead of asking, “So tell me about yourself?” when interviewing job candidates, ask these five questions instead.
The most-used question when interviewing job candidates is this: “Tell me about yourself?”
As HR experts, we cringe every time we hear this question!
It’s a bad question. For starters, it’s too broad. Do you want the job candidate to tell you about her hobby of making origami or recount her time as a third grader? Technically, those are answers to the “Tell me about yourself?” question, but of course, that’s not what you’re interested in.
Your interview style should be to help the job seeker best present her capabilities, qualifications, and passion for the job. That way, you have the information to make informed decisions about whether or not the person is a good fit.
Instead of asking the “Tell me about yourself” question, ask the following five questions instead. You’ll get a richer and deeper insight into the job seeker and help the person to present herself in a dignified and thoughtful manner.
5 Questions to Ask When Interviewing Job Candidates
- What have you learned about our company and the role that motivated you to apply?
With this question, you’ll learn how much the candidate has studied your company and the role before the interview. That is helpful information to know how engaged the job seeker is in the role or if they are passive in their career opportunities with your company.
This question also probes how curious the job seeker is. Curious people do their homework. You want curious, motivated people to work for you.
- What skills do you have that will most benefit this role and/or our company?
This question gets to the heart of matching the skills you’re looking for and the job seeker’s capabilities. In addition, this question opens the door for you to follow up and learn more about the candidate’s true skills and capabilities. Someone might say he is a “critical thinker and problem solver.” But if you ask for examples of how the candidate used critical thinking, and get vague answers, then the job seeker might not possess the skills you’re looking for.
- What (or who) has inspired and motivated you in your career journey so far?
The people we admire often say much about who we aspire to become. This question can help you get a better sense of what really matters to the job seeker. You’ll also find out if the job seeker is a learner and seeks continuous improvement.
Keep in mind, not every job candidate has benefited from working with and learning from stellar managers and leaders. In fact, many people learn just as much about what not to do or how not to act based on negative role models. If the job candidate finds answering this question challenging, consider inviting the person to reflect on what they may have learned from their experiences with less effective managers or co-workers that have shaped how they wish to work, grow and lead.
- How would you describe your ideal company, team, or job?
This question can help you learn how much thought and care the job seeker puts into her next career role. A thoughtful response to this question should include specific attributes that will give you a deeper feel for what motivates the person. Vague or non-descript answers may indicate that you’re interviewing someone looking for money, and not much else.
- In prior work environments, what stood out as positives versus things you wish could have changed or improved?
Your role in the interview process is not to goad the job seeker into “talking bad” about past employment experiences. (Let’s face it: we’ve all had bad past work experiences.) Instead, this question encourages the job seeker to identify the positive experiences they would like to experience again, or at a heightened level. This gives you an opportunity to compare the job seeker’s desires with what your company can provide. Also, this question helps to suss out if there are negative attitude qualities in your job-seeking candidate. A negative-minded person will always revert to negativity, even when answering a positive-oriented question.
Interested in other current employment trends? Click the link to view the recent blog: Top 20 Great Questions Leaders Ask or check back for more on human resources, payroll, insurance, and benefits.