Choose the Right Interview Questions to Find the Best Employees

by Thom Tracy

2 min read

Hiring the perfect employee for a specific job largely depends on your ability to ask the right questions during the interview process. It is important to learn how to choose the right types of questions, the benefits of each type, and how to adjust the questions as the interviews progress.

Types of Questions to Choose

An interview should contain a mixture of all of the following five types of questions:

  • Behavioural questions — These are considered a good judge strengths and weaknesses, since they show how a candidate acted in real situations. An example is: “Tell me about a time you didn’t meet a deadline and what you did to resolve the situation.” Or, “Tell me about a time you made a choice that went horribly wrong and how you dealt with it.”

  • Informational questions — These are questions where a specific answer is required. Things such as, “Why are you qualified for this role?” and “How many times were you promoted at your last job and how long did those take?” are examples.

  • Critical thinking questions — These types of questions show the inner-workings of a person’s thought processes. Great examples of these questions are: “How many laptops can you stack from here to the Moon?” or “How much maple syrup is consumed in Canada each month?”

  • Technical questions — These questions objectively evaluate the candidate’s ability to do the job. Examples include: “Write a program that multiplies two random numbers together that must result in a number divisible by 125,” or “Here is a portfolio of five investments. Calculate the expected return and standard deviation of the portfolio.”

  • Trap questions — These uncover candidate vulnerabilities. An example is, “What is your biggest fault and why?”

The Importance of Each Question Type

All of the question types are important in identifying the right candidate. Answers to behavioural and trap questions show how a person reacted and dealt with various situations in real life, and how a person views themselves. These answers should provide a clear picture of how that person would fit into your organization, as action speaks louder than words. Technical and critical thinking show the brain power the individual has. Smarts are directly measured here. Depending on the role, these questions may be critical. Lastly, informational answers provide a history to any data point you may have in mind.

The important thing is to ask all types to find a balance between intelligence, social skills, and credentials.

How to Transition The Mixture of Questions From the Initial Interview to Further Interviews

Beyond a basic mixture of questions, whatever the core of the role is, this type of question should be the most heavily weighted. If the role is very technical and requires critical thinking, these questions should dominate. If the role is more emotional intelligence-based, perhaps behavioural and even trap questions should dominate. As interviews progress, the questions should get exponentially more difficult, not just a little bit harder. This will help identify truly quality candidates.

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