Interviewing: How To Ask The Right Questions


Once you have made the decision to expand your workforce, chosen how you are going to manage the process and selected which applicants you would like to see, it is time to begin the most important part of recruitment; interviews. Getting the most out of an interview and subsequently hiring the right applicant, is a difficult process and – in the absence of a HR professional – one which many SME’s struggle with. In this post, we give you practical advice on what to ask.

What to Ask?
At the interview stage, preparation is key. Study each candidate’s CV and decide in advance what you want to ask them. It is essential that you find out what you need to know from each applicant before you make your decision – ultimately, this person will have a massive impact on how your business grows and therefore, it is essential that you establish what they can offer your company and –crucially – what they can’t.

According to Cathy Robinson, of HR consultants Robinson Results, the length of the interview is an integral barometer of its success. Robinson states; “In my experience, interviews should last around 50 minutes, this gives the candidate time to relax and really show the interviewer what they have to offer their business. It also shows the applicant that company they are interviewing for, is serious about finding the perfect person for that role.”

Each interview should be structured to ensure you receive the necessary information to help you make an informed choice. However, while structure is vital, it is important that the candidate feels relaxed.

“I always try and create a relaxed atmosphere,” says Robinson. “The interview process is stressful so to put candidates at ease, I begin by giving them a history of the company and its core values. This allows them time to become more comfortable in their surroundings and ensures that both the interviewee and interviewer get the most out of the process.”

Once the candidate is comfortable, it is time to begin the questions. It is essential that you receive all the information you need. Therefore, ask questions that encourage a detailed answer.
“What do you know about our company and what encouraged you to apply for the position?”
This question allows you to establish a candidates understanding of your business, establish their motivation for applying and if their understanding of the role you are offering is the same as yours.

“What are do you think are your particular strengths and weaknesses?”
This may seem like a generic question, however, it can often lead the candidate on to discussing past experiences where they have showed their strengths or weakness. The way they answer the question will also allow you to establish how they respond to criticism.

“Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?”
The idea of this question is to establish, the ambitions of the candidate and if they fit with the ambitions you have for the future of your company.

If you are to make an informed decision, it is important to also look beyond the questions. Look for features such as communication skills, their enthusiasm for your company and how their personality would fit in with the rest of your team.