Know the Right Interview Questions to Ask

As a human resource professional, one of the things you may have to dois find the right person to fill the position your company has open. Conducting an interview is a key part in this process. While an applicant might be able to list all of his or her accomplishments in a resume, during the interview you’ll be able to get a feel for the way the person interacts with others and seek out details around the true knowledge, skills and abilities they possess

Interviews may be valuable, but they can also be dangerous. Ask the wrong questions, and you could end up getting your company into a lot of hot water. It is never appropriate to ask a prospective employee “How old are you?” or “Do you have kids?”. Instead, ask questions that are pertinent to the position/job function. If the position requires 50% travel – ask if they are able to travel 2-3 times a week? You don’t want to turn qualified applicants away by asking discriminatory questions. Many job seekers are quite savvy about what questions can and cannot be asked in an interview. Be sure to know exactly what you can and cannot ask. Your local HR association might be able to provide advice on this topic.

Good questions to ask allow your applicants to expand and speak at length. Closed questions that require a simple “Yes or no” answer don’t tell you very much about a person. Open answers can tell you volumes. I ask people to describe a typical day in their previous job, for example, and then I sit back and listen to them talk. Sometimes I ask them to tell me about a significant project they worked on, and how their work contributed to the success of that project. I may also ask applicants to describe goals they’ve set for themselves, and then tell me how they worked to achieve those goals. Some applicants tell me about their work-related goals, but others tell me about goals they have in their personal life.
Interviewing applicants can is an art; be sure to stay engaged with the applicant and actively listen to what they say. It will keep the conversation flowing and you will learn more if you remain flexible through the process. Plan ahead the questions that you absolutely must ask, but be open to the conversation and where it may go.

Rhemila Smith was the 2011 president of the Human Resource Association of Broward County. For her work in human resources, Rhemila Smith was named one of the 2010 Top 40 Under 40 Leaders of Today and Tomorrow.