8 Interview Questions to Ask Candidates That Get Authentic Answers

Dec 13, 2016

8 Interview Questions to Ask Candidates That Get Authentic Answers

8 Interview Questions to Ask Candidates That Get Authentic Answers

More interview questions than you imagine are outright ineffectual. The intended purpose of an interview is to predict how a candidate will function in the role, but many questions only reaffirm preconceived assumptions. Thankfully, extensive data has identified which types of interview questions reveal a candidate’s true potential and which are all too shortsighted.



Measuring personnel selection methods over 85 years, a classic study found which types of questions were the best predictors of ultimate performance. Case questions (and the more modern brain teasers) were found to be lacking. Structured interview questions, however, were the highest ranking types of interview questions, predicting 26% of an employee’s future actions. That means the most valuable interview questions to ask candidates (those that help when increasing performance and lowering hiring costs) will be either behavioral or situational questions.

Here are eight examples that we see get the most authentic answers from candidates:

Behavioral Questions

These types of structured interview questions explore a candidate’s past and identify trends in their behavior. They determine benchmarks that predict how a candidate will act in replicable situations. Here are four questions that get to the core of a candidate.

1.) Provide an example of a time that you struggled to work on a team. How did you overcome your obstacles? What would you do differently?

Even in an office atmosphere where most interactions are copacetic, conflict occurs. No one agrees 100% of the time. Relationships can either be strengthened or poisoned depending on how a candidate responds during conflict.

2.) Talk about a time when you dealt with on-the-job pressure. What caused the pressure and how did you overcome it?

Questions like this one measure two different factors: the adaptability of a candidate and his or her ability to handle stress. Candidates who are unable to handle changing variables tend to be routinely stressed. That leads to diminished productivity, lowered health, and faster burnout.

3.) Explain the processes you used to meet a very important deadline for your last job. How did you complete the project on time? What have you learned to do differently? Time management skills.

With all of the distractors of today’s office place, time management seems to exist in a minefield. Take one step in the wrong direction and priorities can get derailed. Learning how a candidate prioritizes projects and has learned from past challenges is a good predictor of their performance going forward.

4.) Tell me about a situation that you could have handled better. What prompted you to act the way you did and how would you handle it better? Motivation questions.

Though we all know not every situation will be handled with flying colors, the lessons learned during hardship are far more important to measure. A candidate who has some level of self-awareness is more likely to avoid making that same mistake on repeat.

Situational Questions

Past action only indicates a portion of future performance. Knowledge, values, problem-solving processes, behaviors, technical skills, and soft skills complete the rest of the picture. Most are determinable by situational interview questions.

5.) What steps would you take to regain a client’s trust after missing a major deliverable? How would you address the situation and provide a solution?

Client-facing situations are difficult to navigate and direct experience is not always the deciding factor. In these situations, the thought process matters more, because different clients will require different treatment. Having methods in place helps to implement the right solution on the fly.

6.) A critical server crashed. What would you do to regain functionality and mitigate damage?

This question tests a candidate ability to use technical knowledge in methodical ways and stay calm. Whether asking developers about spotting glitches days from launch or nurses about handling an emergency code, the best responses show clearly thought out processes and a calm response.

7.) You are leading a team. One of your team members is underperforming on a critical task. How do you handle the situation?

Can the candidate take charge without being abrasive? Can he or she problem-solve with other people in mind? Previous solutions depend on temperament. Once again, solid processes make the difference.

8.) A lead in a different department is cutting corners on a project that does not directly affect you. How would you address the situation?

Questions like this do a great job of addressing integrity and other values. Direct and indirect questions about values ensure that the screening process is thorough.

Why Picking the Right Interview Question to Ask Candidates Isn’t Enough

Even with a strong list of interview questions to ask candidates, you need to be working with substance in the first place. If the right people are not making it into your talent funnel, then even the best interview questions can only do so much.

In competitive markets, the best professionals need to be aggressively sought out. Doing the entire process justice takes extensive time with most other human resources functions suffering in the process. Working with the right consulting and staffing firm increases your odds of finding the right talent.

At w3r, we carefully consider skilled professionals from our candidate pool until we find the right blend of technical requirements and temperament. Only the best candidates available are submitted to our clients. Contact us today to direct exceptional talent your way.

Related Articles:

5 Clear Strategies for Lowering Hiring Costs

The Scale, Speed, and Quality of a Project Based Staffing Partner

The 2017 Detroit IT Salary Guide


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