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Interview questions? These can get tricky for anybody

Ah, interviews: sweaty palms, racing heartbeats and for me personally, never knowing what to do with my hands. You’d think you were getting ready to meet your mate to an arranged marriage for life. But if you think you’re the only one that’s nervous, think again. Have you ever stopped to consider what the interviewer is feeling? If you think all of the pressure is on you, well think again, because a lot of it is on the person sitting behind the desk as well. Not only do they have to pick and choose from quite a few candidates, but determine if you are their one and only (like mingling, dating and getting married all at a speed faster than light), and that’s quite a feat to take on.

So, let’s give a shout out to all you interviewers and discuss the hardships you face, because it definitely isn’t easy. As an interviewer, your job is to play psychologist to uncover the interviewee’s personality, abilities and capabilities (without the help of a degree in psych), and while you may think you’re on track by asking weird questions like, ‘If you were a fruit, which one would you be?’, there has to be sound reasoning behind what you ask. That is because the job interview is the most critical step in the process of hiring new people for a company. It’s an important opportunity for both the interviewer and the interviewee to evaluate the potential business relationship.

Here are some tips to find that special someone for life (although these days a long-term relationship isn’t quite what it used to be):

Do your homework
This isn’t just up to the interviewee; make sure you do your research as well. This means going over the resume and cover letter for each and every candidate you interview. There’s nothing more annoying to me, than going to an interview and waiting patiently for the interviewer to read over my resume. I did my research, so do yours. This will help you gain a general idea about the candidate’s background and experience, and will give you the chance to ask for clarifications during the interview. Some people don’t check the references but if you have any doubts you can always make follow-up calls to check credibility.

Check to see if the candidate did his homework
I’ll have to admit, I have been embarrassed before for not exactly understanding what the company did. As I went on and on describing their services, I unknowingly added some things that they do not do (oops, that’s another lesson for the interviewee, know when to stop talking). Ask questions like, ‘Can you name three of our clients?’ (although I would say that’s a bit mean and tough) or ‘What do you think about the company’s website?’ It’s not that you expect them to know everything, but it shows that they take the job seriously and will use the same effort in preparing for future projects in the company (if they get the job that is).

Are we the right match?
Get to know their personality, ask questions to assess their skills and ability to actually perform the tasks of the job description. Ask things like, ‘Describe a moment when you had to make a hard decision.’ Find out if they’re willing to travel, go to extensive meetings, or where they see themselves in 10 years. It is alright to ask personal questions that are appropriate, but do not ask things like what is your religion, or about personal relationships; know what to ask and how to ask it.

Do you want me for the right reasons?
Make sure they want to be here, and that they’re not just taking the job to well, just have a job. Ask why they want to work for you, or why they are applying for a position that they seem overqualified for. Even I have applied for jobs that I wouldn’t necessarily take just to get my foot in the door, or to find other possible vacancies within the company that weren’t necessarily being advertised. Ask why they seem to change their jobs so often, and particularly important, why they left their former one.

Can they handle the bumps in the relationship?
Ask questions to find out if the person can function under pressure, because we all know how stressful and chaotic most industries can be. That’s why throwing an odd question out of the blue can help to assess a candidate’s potential reaction. A friend of mine was once told that English wasn’t her first language, even though she was born and raised in the States! Needless to say she was flabbergasted at first, but managed to handle the question, and subsequently secure the job. Make them think and don’t just ask about their previous history. Ask stressful questions like, ‘What separates you from all the other candidates?’ or ‘Why should I hire you?’

Can’t we all just get along?
Ask questions that show the person’s ability to work with a team. ‘Have you ever had any issues with a colleague/client – if yes, how did you resolve them?’ The last thing you want to hear is that they have never faced a problem with a colleague or a client, because first of all, they are lying, and second of all, only I’m that perfect. Make sure they’re honest, and can wow you with how they’ve come out on top, even through the face of adversity.

What you should be looking for is how quick the candidate answers, if they have good communications skills and if they actually answer the addressed questions without talking about something totally irrelevant thinking that they actually nailed it!

Just like any initial meeting, if it feels right then you know you’re getting somewhere. Use your instincts and know what to look for. Be yourself and make sure they are too, because the last thing you want is a square peg that doesn’t fit the circle.

Any interesting questions you have come across in interviews? Help me come up with some great ones for my next post.