Five difficult interview questions to reveal a candidate's character

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When it comes to an interview, there’s a pretty good chance a candidate knows what to expect; a series of questions that will attempt to reveal their experience, skills, and ability to do the job at hand.
However, interviews are not always about determining whether or not the interviewee can do the job, but, rather, an entirely different set of skills. This set tends to be emotional and psychological.  
The interview questions selected to measure a candidate against can go as far as “Does it make sense to hire this person, and does it make sense for them to work for us?” Hiring Managers should be looking for more than just a tactical skill set, and sometimes it takes a different set of questions to find the answers.
These questions, that should also be posed to job candidates in conjunction with the typical hard skills-type, are used to reveal the true character of the job-seeker. They’re not easy, and can have more twists and turns than a primetime television series.
The following 5 examples of twisty, difficult questions that can be used to draw out some of the most important, hidden aspects of the candidate sitting in front of you in an interview for a successful hiring are listed with some insight on this effective hiring strategy:  
  1. What do you want your job title to be in five years?
Hiring Managers ask this question to ensure that the candidate’s long term goals are in line with the current position. Oftentimes we are interviewing for sales and the candidate answers that they hope to be in marketing. Well, if we hire this candidate and spend money to train them, we will eventually lose this candidate much sooner than expected. We want their career path to fit with, well, this career!
  1. How much support, direction, and feedback do you need from your manager in order to succeed?
Depending on your organizational culture, this question is very important to assess how the candidate will fit in. In a modern workplace, such as a startup or tech firm, where freedom of creativity is heavily supported, the employees who constantly need reassurance and feedback may find it overwhelming and stressful. Also, those who prefer to work independently may find a micro-managed team equally stressful. Assess the answer to this one, and determine if this is not only the right fit for your company, but also for the candidate themselves.
  1. What would you do in your first three months on the job to ensure your success?
This is a favourite. Since everyone trains and develops using different learning techniques, no answer is the same, nor is one answer the correct one. Those responsible for hiring are looking to learn what the candidate believes will help them succeed long-term so that it can be determined if the company can support this individual properly.
Some people need a lot of practice - seeing and then doing - in order to feel confident in their work. Others need time to process information, taking tools and resources home to better familiarize themselves with the tasks. It’s important to be able to support all learning styles, and to be prepared to do so.
  1. If we were to offer you this position, what can we do to keep you motivated day-to-day?
As mentioned above, hiring for a sales team is common - they tend to be large groups with lots of different variables and motivations at play, and turnover tends to be on the higher end of the spectrum. You are going to want to ensure the company’s motivation techniques will work for the candidates being considered.
For example, employees who work in sales often have similar personalities; they’re competitive, metrics-driven, and are dissatisfied until their name reaches the top 5 on the leaderboard. Plan to implement various techniques and incentives to keep this motivation up.  
This question will help you identify the sales personality characteristics that will result in employee success and overall satisfaction in their role, another key variable to consider that often gets overlooked in traditional interview question formats.
  1. If you could create your ideal corporate culture, what would it look like?
This is a softer question. In our company, since we pride ourselves on cultural atmosphere, we want our future employees to have the same pride. It’s essential for a future employee’s happiness that they, too, prefer to incorporate this into their day-to-day activities. Don’t hesitate to ask about what a potential employee’s ideal is. Their answer will help you to not only determine fit and whether or not they’re forward-thinking and thoughtful about their career choice, but also what you could potentially be doing better to attract other great candidates in the future.
The questions can vary as an interviewer attempts to reveal the many, hidden aspects of a person’s character. The questions should never appear to be odd, or “offside.” However, they can be surprising and insightful, and make the candidate pause as they ponder their answer, drawn off the path of the somewhat robotic, “perfect” response. Remember to probe into questions further if you feel the answer has not appeared as easily as you hoped it would. Have candidates elaborate or explain further so you can see the big picture; you never want to be making your own assumptions.
  • HR Team on 2015-12-15 8:52:31 AM

    Some great interview questions to consider!

  • Isabella on 2015-12-15 11:13:13 AM

    Really that question # 1 is as old as the hills and maybe , maybe ok for seasoned potentials but is really unfair especially when interviewing young people who have limited or no experience in the work place and have An idealistic of what the world is. Don't judge people in what the "think" they might like in 5 years time...
    Once people get into the work place and experience the job and the possibilities their views can, and usually do, chAnge. I have seen so many new grads bounced out of consideration on this question when it's obvious they have no idea of what the work environs is actually like.
    Drop this one ASAP ... along with those old nuggets like bouncing someone for lack of eye contact without considering shyness or cultural differences.
    Some of these old "tru-isms" are based on God ok' American 1950s values that don't hold any more and just are not that true . They weed out a lot of good potentials on voodoo truth.

  • Ian Ratchford on 2015-12-15 5:08:26 PM

    I principal, I have to agree with Isabella.

    I admit that I got a good laugh out of most of the good ole boys question and answer period.

    People who are self absorbed worry about what their title will be in five years. Receptionists are called Directors of First Impressions. Really? Seriously? This is what you are offering people?

  • Jamie on 2016-07-26 1:02:38 PM

    As a working senior professional I disagree with this persons idea of interview questions to see "if it makes sense for them to work for us"

    If the candidate has the qualifications, the references and has a good attitude then they deserve to work.

    I often feel HR people are endlessly creating an HR theory out of boredom. An HR generalist should not have this type of power to filter out candidates on any other basis other then qualifications, experience and references. Let the hiring manager or department manager continue the hiring process.

    A lot of companies ask question 5, however if you go to glassdoor you can see too often those same companies have less then a 20% approval rating.

  • Suzanne on 2016-07-28 8:03:27 AM

    The average tenure for a role in Canada is 4 years. So the answer to question #1 is: Not working for your firm!....the question is outdated and not relevant.

  • Semon on 2016-08-18 6:20:03 AM

    Fair enough

  • Sabrina on 2016-08-30 3:19:09 PM

    Got a good chuckle! Can's believe these questions are being recommended. HR has come a long way from these 'good old boys' questions to creating standardized interview techniques that assess an individual's qualifications in relation to the job and not to determine his character. Let's not promote these questions and loose all the success that we have made in HR.

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