Winning the War for Talent: 5 Basic Interview Questions to Ask

June 12, 2017
Man looking at paperwork on his desk

Strategic talent management is the top goal of most businesses today, driven by the need to have the right people in the right jobs and keeping them engaged and productive.

Not just individuals with the best skills, however.

More organizations are finding it important to recruit and hire individuals whose skill sets may be on the soft side but who are inspired and energized by the company’s culture, mission and values. Such people are more likely to be productive and less likely to leave.

What are soft skills? They comprise an ability to communicate and collaborate with others on teams, a strong work ethic, problem-solving aptitude, adaptability to change, and emotionally attuned social and interpersonal skills. If such individuals find value in the organization’s purpose, they have what talent recruiters increasingly call “the right fit.”

Finding the right fit has become crucial. According to Aberdeen Group’s “Human Capital Trends in the Age of Transparency” report, 62% of human resource executives believe there is a scarcity of critical talent available in the external market. Nearly half (47.6%) of the survey respondents also expressed difficulties in effectively managing their organization’s current talent.

Improving these statistics begins at the job interview level. Here are five job fit interview questions to ask a candidate to ensure the recruitment of not just bright people, but the right people:

1. How do you prefer to work?

During the interview, ask questions about how the individual prefers to work – in isolation or with groups of others – without inferring which type of person the company is seeking.

2. What is a challenge you have overcome?

To discern the candidate’s ability to solve problems, ask a question regarding a challenge the person has encountered and overcome in school or at another organization. The goal is to learn how the individual focused on the solution and not the problem, fixing something that needed repair or building something new.

3. What is the best way to delegate a task?

Since open positions won’t all be entry level, ask the applicant what he or she considers to be the optimal way to delegate a task. Follow this up with a question about something the person did not know and for which the applicant had to reach out to others for assistance. Then gauge the person’s ease in asking for help.

4. What about our company’s purpose or values appeals to you?

Distill your organization’s culture into a few words and then present it to the candidate. Ask what it is about this purpose that appeals to the person. Ask for examples of how the individual’s personal values align with this purpose, and then ask what makes them passionate in life and work. Discern where there may be variances in the responses and ask for clarification.

5. How do you adapt to change?

For businesses that are growing fast, change will be a constant. Ask the job candidate how well he or she would adapt to a particular change, such as an overnight change in responsibilities or the sudden replacement of a beloved boss. How would they mentally prepare for such a transition?

It continues to be vitally important to ask probing questions about an employment candidate’s particular skill sets and educational and career achievements. But bear in mind the smartest person isn’t always the most successful employee.

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