5 Interview Questions I ask every candidate


stock-footage-businessman-sitting-at-shiny-office-desk-signing-a-contract-with-noble-penHiring the right person is first step to successful organization. Letting the right one in saves you ample in the long run. Filtering down to the right candidate is a difficult process. If it depends on candidate it depends on the interviewer even more.

Although I have listed down the five questions later but this does not save you homework. You have to go through interviewee applications reading their responses and following questions get you the final verdict affirming your initial assessment.

You can ask the same questions straight or change it up a little. But remember keeping questions simple and unidirectional help you know candidate better. I keep these questions exactly as I have written them i.e. to the point!

1. Why this?

Possible inferences: Candidate’s knowledge/perception about the position | Priorities | Motivating factor for employee

This company comes with many variants like why this job? why this company?

Entrepreneurs love those individuals who do their homework because this saves them time and build confidence that candidate is all up and ready to do the intended task.

This question helps me understand what candidate has understood about the job and confirms that both of us thinking on the same page if not exactly on the same line. The fact of the matter is that employee thinks about the job I am offering not on the basis of what I have to offer rather what he thinks I am going to offer. This helps eliminating the perception Vs reality issues right in the first minute.

This question puts a clear divide between those who work just for money and who work just not for money. Nobody can undermine the importance of money in our lives but given it all the importance makes you impotent in the eyes of recruiters. Don’t think that employer is trying to hire you for less rather he is not willing to pay more than what you can effectively payback.

I have more respect for those who weigh self actualization and self fulfillment above money. The reason is center of gravity of such individuals is right inside them and thus they don’t easily fall out because of external forces pushing and pulling in all directions. Situation of money lovers is like those vehicles having high center of gravity and thus have less road grip and can roll over easily because of external forces.

2. Why you left previous job?

Possible inferences: What motivates/demotivates candidate | Personality check | Conflict management skills

Heads up!: To test blood you have to stick a needle. But push it too quickly and you miss the vein. This is exactly the situation with these questions. If you are charging in on the candidate like a bull majority of them will go silent and you might miss judge a potentially good employee. So keep the waters calm!

If one is settled in one job nobody abandons it and if it has happened then there are reasons and they must be good. I know everyone wants progression and it is a positive thing but at what cost? Its always about cost-benefit. Candidate might be just the one you want but if you can’t hold him in then its not worth trying.

On the other hand responses like “It didn’t workout well”, “I/they had issues”, “It was a bad experience” and similar responses are all warnings. And this surely makes me ask more questions to get to confirm if the problem is with the candidate.

In organizations people work with and through people and when they work together conflicts are natural. Those instead of managing conflicts catalyze them or find others responsible for every problem (self serving bias) are already in the red zone. Yet there is another breed who simply can’t take orders as they always come up with counter argument. These are not the ones I am after. Sorry!

3. How you think you are better than the ones sitting outside?

Possible inferences: Candidate’s self perception | Strength and Weaknesses | Attitude towards others

If one knows what he is good at might probably knows how to use it and he perhaps use it for employer as well. But not knowing weaknesses or giving an impression one don’t have any shows a serious lack of learning. If one don’t find deficiencies in oneself he can never improve anything for you either.

As this is a two-edged question, I observe signs for being judgmental towards others or weighing oneself more than others without knowing them. The ones with such attitude are probably going to destroy a good environment in your entity. Politics, back biting and everything that eats the organization from inside will be planted.

4. How much you think have scored in this interview?

Possible inferences: Candidate’s self evaluation ability, self-confidence

Self evaluation is one big ability and those have it must know it as their most precious asset.

To me the one who knows why his answer is wrong or at least that he is wrong is better than the one who knows all the answers yet unaware of his mistakes.

The ones who are all good or all wrong are equally reluctant of their abilities and I treat both of them equally as earlier is overconfident and the second is not confident at all. Having no confidence means not having power to decide and not knowing where one is wrong means not knowing why decision is wrong. Same is the case with overconfidence.

I know within few minutes one can neither appraise oneself nor I am expecting it. I am simply looking for one’s ability to be honest and conservative at the same with oneself and measuring performance neutrally. To me self confidence is a resultant of self evaluation. Self confidence is not just knowing what you can do but doing it.

Ones lacking self belief, if given the authority, will be eating their bosses’ head with questions all the time. Come on! if I have to think all about it why am I hiring you then?

5. What business you like to start?

Target inference: Ideas, creativity, leadership

My favourite question! This tells so much about candidate but sometime I have to prepare them to answer this question.

The one who don’t want to start a business doesn’t mean they are dull or not good enough and in my experience opposite is true as majority of candidates were able to give good reasons why they don’t feel doing it and they were with very great ideas.

Responses to this question help employer predict where employee is going to be in next few years. And it also gives a time frame when employer might be looking for his replacement in the future as people with ambition will get on every train that leads to their goals faster.

If one is not doing it for no reason lacks ambition and is of course a slave who always need an order to move and act. He will never think of doing things in a better way and will be an addition not a value addition. Same is the case with the one who cannot think of any business. The reason is he is too lazy to even think. Similarly the one who knows what to do but not how to do it is again a lazy not thinking at all.

To me lazy is good only if he compensates it by putting his brain in action. Ideas are no good if they are getting realized. If one cannot spin them into real action then he is a dreamer who never wakes up