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Transcript of Interview Questions
Where there is a real requirement to work long hours or travel, you can broach this subject by linking the requirement to the job. So, for example, "There is a requirement to spend one night a week away from home. Will this cause you any problems?"
Practise giving a positive description of the vacancy and the company in five minutes.
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How would you phrase a question that would explore the candidate's willingness to work flexible hours?
The Result relates to what was the outcome in relation to the example. It is likely that the outcome was successful. However, it is useful to quantify the success by asking: "how do you know it was successful?" or "how did you measure the outcome?"
How else could you ensure that the candidate quantifies their success?
The Action is what the candidate actually did to achieve the desired outcome. It is useful at this stage of the answer to clarify with the candidate what it is that they actually did, rather than the actions of other people involved.
Think about how you would clarify with a candidate what they were responsible for - rather than talking about the actions of other people.
Closed questions are those that may result in an answer of either "yes" or "no". They can be useful when verifying information so, for example, "do you use PowerPoint?"
These types of questions do not allow the candidate to expand in any way. So use them only if you are looking for a "yes" or "no" answer or where clarification is required.
Re-phrase the question above so that it is more open and allows the candidate to expand on the PowerPoint skills.
The Situation gives you the context for the example - the setting in which the example took place. It could contain some history leading up to the situation and indicate who else was involved.
The aim is to understand the context in which the example/incident took place.
This is about how you would structure your question to explore the Situation.
The Task relates to what the candidate perceives has to be done. It can also include what tasks other people were responsible for, but the main aim is also to identify what has to be done.
This is about how you would structure your question to explore the Task.
Using the STAR model to structure your questions ensures that you get a complete and full answer. The acronym stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result.
So for example, to explore team working you could structure your questions as follows:
"Tell me about a situation where you worked well in a team?" (Situation)
"What was the objective?" (Task)
"What role did you play?" (Action)
"What was the outcome?" (Result)
Think about how you would structure a question to explore decision making.
"What would you do if a colleague lied to your manager?" tests how good a candidate is at thinking on their feet. If a candidate comes up with a reasonable answer to a hypothetical question - it is still hypothetical whether they would do as they suggest, or even have the skills to do it.
Past performance is the best predictor of future behaviour and so we recommend that you always ask questions based on their past performance.
The hypothetical question above is exploring integrity. Re-phrase it so it is based on past behaviour.
Personal questions about family set-ups, marital status, friendship groups, etc., are a reflection of how nosy the interviewer is - rather than producing relevant information on which to base a recruitment decision. If a candidate is subsequently rejected, they may think that the reason was related to the personal question asked, rather that their suitability for the role. Your questions should only relate to the vacancy and the requirements of the role.
Our tip: Don't do it!
Open questions normally start with "How, what, which, when..." They open up a topic and allow the candidate to tell you about experiences.
Typical examples are "How did you get that result?", "What was important in that situation?"
Re-phrase the question "Can you use Excel?" so that it is open and allows the candidate to expand on Excel experience.
"You don't like detail, do you?" or, "teamwork is important - do you enjoy working with others?" These are leading questions: they lead the candidate to the answer that you are looking for. They give the candidate no option to disagree or to say what is really thought.
Practise re-phrasing the leading questions above to ensure the candidate can answer openly.
An interviewer who asks a number of questions all at the same time, ends up confusing the candidate. In response, it is likely that the candidate will answer either the question they liked the most, or the last question they heard - as it is the only one they remember. Multiple questions do not allow a coherent flow of information.
Re-phrase the following so that it is a number of distinct questions rather than one multiple question:
"Tell me about your last boss, what type of manager you like to work for, and the type of management style that you are comfortable with?"
Some candidates will answer a question with too little information. In order to encourage them to fill out the details, it is a useful technique just to say, "tell me a little bit more about that?". This shows that you are interested and that the candidate needs to expand further.
Other techniques are to ask "because...?" or "and...?" Keep your interjection brief avoiding interruption of the candidate's thought process.
Think of other ways you could use to encourage a candidate to expand an answer to a question.