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Revealing questions to ask candidates at interview

Revealing questions to ask candidates at interview

How can you decide whether a candidate will fit into your organisation if by law, you’re not allowed to ask any personal questions?

A popular solution is to ask ‘behavioural’ questions instead. With these, candidates are obliged to give a fairly detailed description of a challenging situation they faced in the past and how they handled it. This gives you the opportunity to sit back, listen and learn all about the person sitting in front of you. Here are some examples:


Tell me about a time when you worked in a team…

Your candidate’s ‘story’ should reveal how well they cooperate, motivate and support others. You should also get a clearer idea of their leadership skills, ability to influence others, and empathy.


Tell me about a time when you had a disagreement at work…

This question should reveal your candidate’s problem-solving ability, empathy and patience. Do they listen to, or steamroller anyone who disagrees with them. Are they confrontational? And when dealing with conflict, do they act professionally?


Tell me about your biggest failure…

Everyone makes mistakes but it might be disastrous for your company if the person responsible keeps it under wraps. This is a horrible question to answer but beautifully illuminating for you. Do they accept responsibility or blame others? Can they problem-solve? What have they learned from the experience?


Tell me about your greatest success / something that’s not on your CV…

This question often reveals your candidate’s personality, interests, dedication, enthusiasm and confidence as well as demonstrating how they face difficult challenges.


What do you know about us?

Although this is not a behavioural question it’s well worth asking. Is the candidate interested enough in the position to have researched your company?


While interviewing, also take note of your own gut reaction. Do you like this person? Do their ‘stories’ sound genuine? Finally, if you’re unclear about something they’ve said or you want to know more, ask.

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