Ineffective Job Interview Questions Are a Waste of Time: How to Perfect Your Interview Questions

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With 81% of employees lying in their job interviews, you must wonder: Is your organization gathering the right information from its candidates?

Perfecting your questions is the best way to boost the effectiveness of your interviews, create an accurate view of your candidates’ performance potentials, and forge a personal connection with your new employee. Data from McGill University shows structured interviews (those that are preplanned and ask the same questions to every candidate) are much better indicators of job performance than unstructured interviews. 

However, many organizations ask the same uninspired, ineffectual questions as everyone else. This creates unengaged interviewees and elicits scripted responses. To evaluate talent more intelligently, hiring teams must consider new ways of actively engaging interviewees by asking better questions. 

Tailor your questions to the company and job opening

Preparation is imperative when conducting job interviews. But without the right preparation, it won’t get you anywhere. 

Employers must evaluate a candidate’s suitability for the specific job opening as well as for the company overall. When planning interview questions, consider the company’s needs and brainstorm how you will determine the candidate’s ability to fulfill these needs. By exploring the company’s values and questioning what gaps led to hiring in the first place, you can discover what the company needs the most from its new hire. Then you can decipher the best questions to ask. 

Review the job description in this phase to visualize the ideal candidate for the role. With a list of key qualities and competencies, you can write questions evaluating candidates on these specific criteria. 

Further, a job interview is a two-way street. The candidate is evaluating you just as much as you are evaluating them. Try to write questions that give the candidate a feel for the company, its culture, and the type of work environment it offers. This will assist their evaluation process and create a positive first impression of your company. 

Prepare open-ended questions

Open-ended questions are more effective at assessing a candidate’s potential than simple yes/no questions. They require the interviewee to engage on a deeper level, delivering more detailed and thoughtful responses that provide more valuable insight. 

Because open-ended questions require free-form answers, these questions can create a more comprehensive view of a candidate. Asking a closed-ended question is like pumping the brakes on your conversation. While some are necessary, reducing the number of yes/no questions you ask will create a more conversational interview, which is great for building rapport and exploring unexpected topics with your candidates. 

And because open-ended questions require candidates to improvise longer responses, you can evaluate their communication skills alongside other criteria as you interview them. 

Remember to ask follow-up questions

Open-ended questions often uncover new avenues of discussion or evoke more questions. While structured interviews are more effective, asking follow-up questions on the spot enhances your understanding of the candidate’s response, draws more information out of the candidate, and builds rapport. 

Engaging deeper with follow-up questions shows the candidate you value what they have to say and are listening to them. This is a great way to begin the relationship-building process and foster a positive impression of the company. 

Before the interview, prepare yourself to ask follow-up questions or brainstorm some potential follow-up questions. During the interview, think of follow up questions as the interviewee speaks. Ask them about something interesting they said, prompt them to elaborate on a point they mentioned briefly, and ask to clarify any points of confusion. 

Review your questions before the interview 

After creating your lists of questions, double check your work. Make sure you wrote enough questions to fill the allotted time and ensure you kept closed-ended questions to a minimum. 

Revisit the company’s needs and job description to verify you have questions covering all important aspects. You’ll want to have questions exploring candidates’ education, experience, knowledge, and behavior. 

Re-write questions that are confusing or don’t use positive language. Remember, this interview is likely one of the candidate’s first experiences with your company. 

The best job interviews tell employers everything they need to make an informed hiring decision. By arming yourself with good questions, you maximize your chances of collecting the right information from your candidates and better prepare yourself to make the best choice for your company. 


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