Job interviewing should be a two way time of sharing information and asking the right questions to enable both employers and prospective employees to make good and informed employment decision choices.  Asking the right questions up-front may make all the difference between hiring the right person for the job and accepting the position that is the best fit for the job seeker.

Employers:  Questions should be designed to assess candidates in two primary areas; skills competency and company – culture fit.  Remember, all questions asked must be closely job related.  Questions of a personal nature are unlawful and off-limits.  If you are interviewing more than one candidate for the position, ask the same primary questions of all candidates; follow-up questions may be tailored to individual candidates to clarify specific responses.  Keep a written record of all candidate interviews including answers that were provided by the candidate to your questions.  Maintain this record for at least three months following the hiring decision, you may need it to defend a charge of discrimination.

Employers that administer any type of proficiency testing as a part of the interview process must administer the same test under the same conditions to all candidate finalists. Test results should be recorded and maintained with the interview records.

Asking open-ended, situational or behavioral questions often provide more information in the answer than yes / no questions.  My favorite interview question to be asked by employers is “Tell me about yourself”…then sit back and listen to what the candidate feels is important in their life.

Interviewees:  Come to the interview prepared with eight to ten questions for each person with whom you are interviewing. Tailor your questions to their areas of expertise.  Ask company culture or fit questions to the HR person, technical questions of the hiring manager and both technical and fit questions to potential co-workers.  First interviews should not include questions concerning compensation, benefits, vacation, smoke breaks etc.  Ask your questions as early in the interview meeting as possible.  This gives you a good opportunity to provide information about yourself in later statements that support their answers and show how you can be the solution for them.  Two questions I encourage clients to ask in interviews are “ Tell me how you will know in six months if you have selected the right candidate for this position”; the second question is “ What is the primary responsibility for this position?”  Your questions should also be an indication of your research conducted on the organization or company; therefore your questions should not address areas that can be discovered to research.  One final question to be asked at the conclusion of the interview if you want the position is “ What one thing can I help clarify for you that will allow you to make a decision to offer me this position?”  Most employers get excited to hear a candidate ask for the position.  It is an indication of the candidates desires to be successful.  Candidates, before the interview think about what questions may be asked of you in an interview, formulate appropriate and solid answers with examples of support and practice, practice, practice.

Interview questions by both employer and candidate need to be well thought-out, designed to identify specific areas of concern or consideration, job related and stated in a positive, productive manner.  Ask the right questions in order to make the right decisions.


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