Q: What questions can I ask in an interview that will help me find a candidate that fits well both in personality and skills?

A: I have been a recruiter for over 25 years, so many years that I sometimes try to convince people that I started when I was four! One of my main responsibilities is to conduct interviews and match candidates with job opportunities and company culture.  In the thousands of interviews I have performed I have utilized a variety of interview questions and learned a few techniques that help me to identify candidates that will meet the skill sets that are required by the position as well as the soft skills that mix best with the company’s team.  Below is a list of 5 questions that you may want to consider when meeting a potential candidate.

Tell me about one of your biggest accomplishments at work. This is a great jumping off point for an interview.  It can help relax the candidate as they discuss a positive career event.  This allows you to get a glimpse of their personality and also to gauge if they are able to keep this answer brief and be direct about their skills and experience. This question can also lead to a myriad of additional find out questions:  Why were you chosen?, What were some of the challenges?, What was the team like?, What would you do differently?, etc…

Where do you want your career to be in 5 years? How is this position helping you to get there?  If you are looking for someone to grow with the company this is a great question to make sure the growth opportunities will take this candidate to where they hope to be.  If the candidate’s main goal is to return to school to pursue a track completely different from your industry, then this may not be the best person for the job.  A lot is invested by both the employee and the employer, especially during the first year of training, so finding someone who wants to be there long term can really make a difference in the upward growth of the company as well! 

Have you ever had a conflict with a boss or co-worker? How was it resolved?  We are all human and as such the odds are high that we will come up against someone in the work place, at school, etc… that we don’t get along with 100%.  This question gives you a glimpse into how the candidate handles conflict when working with others.  This question is sometimes answered when you go over the employment history portion of the resume.  While inquiring why the candidate has left previous positions, if the responses center mostly around clashes with management or drama with co-workers, you may want to focus on another candidate. 

What is the first thing you would do if you were hired for this position? The real question is “Are you qualified/do you understand what this position is?” If they have the correct experience to be in the role they will know what type of responsibilities will be expected and what some of their long term goals should be.

Why should I hire you? Some candidate may feel it is too bold to tell you at the end of the interview that this is the job for them.  This question gives them the opportunity to let you know their interest level before the close of the interview.  If they really ask for the job, and especially if they express to you afterwards in a note or e-mail their desire to join the team and why, you can get a sense of how far they are bought in to the company and the position.