Helpful Interview Questions
First, did the idea seem worth selling? Second, notice whether the applicant took extra steps to demonstrate the idea’s practicality, profitability or efficiency. Did he/she wait to be discovered? Or did he/she assertively put forth a solid idea? 2. Give me an example of something you recommended which was not adopted? Why? What could you have done differently? A variation on the question above, this one gives the applicant a chance to tell you what he or she has learned about timing, research, politics or other factors necessary to consider when selling an idea. 3.
If you were a manager, how much leeway would you give your employees to do things their own way? In which areas or situations should an employee simply follow procedures and guidelines and not try it his or her own way? 2 The way the applicant answers this question will describe his/her tendencies and desires to strike out on their own. Listen to the areas in which he/she would likely take risks. Probe the answer carefully; the “employee” described here is, of course, the applicant. 4. What ways have you found to make your job easier or more interesting? Most jobs can be improved somewhat.
Notice whether the answer demonstrates making the job “easier”. Did it make the job easier for management, as well as for the employee? Were the actions taken completely self-directed, or did they require prodding from management? 5. Give me an example of a project you were responsible for starting. What did you do? How did it work out? Probe to uncover how the applicant conceived of the goals and obstacles involved in the project, and whether he/she demonstrated planning and organizing efforts at the project’s inception. Did they plunge right in, or test the waters carefully first?
Does he or she seem to enjoy initiating projects such as the one described? 6. How much information do you need to get started on a new project or assignment? Ask for a specific, recent example to illustrate the answer. The truly self-initiating person enjoys receiving only minimal information; he or she thrills at the challenge of working through the details independently. A person with a high degree of initiative usually gets impatient waiting to begin the next assignment. 7. When have you had to produce results without sufficient guidelines or information? What did you do?
Faced with an ambiguous situation, the person with a high degree of initiative is unafraid to act. He or she boldly collects what information is possible and strides forward purposefully. He or she declares goals and objectives, enlists support from others and begins the first step with a minimum of complaints. Look for a pattern of confident, creative activity which produced results in a difficult situation. Stress 1. In your last job, when did you feel pressured? Why? Notice whether the pressures were from external factors more than internal (psychological or emotional) pressures.
Were the pressures possible to alleviate? To avoid? Probe to uncover how often these pressures surfaced. Match with the pressures likely to be faced in the new position. 2. What have you done on or off the job to alleviate job stress? On the job, listen to determine whether the applicant knows how to use humor, communicate with others to work through conflicts, give and get support, take time outs, or use other stress-reducing 3 methods. Off the job, see if your applicant has counterbalancing factors to cushion job stress. For example, the support of friends, an exercise program, meditation or other methods. ) 3. In a past job, what was most likely to create stress for you? For example, a tough deadline? Juggling priorities? Meeting others’ expectations? Why? The items stated indicate an important aspect of the candidate’s personality. Probe as to what about the situation was stressful. For example, if an applicant says “meeting deadlines”, this may mean he/she is a perfectionist and dislikes letting go of their work. On the other hand, it may mean they are somewhat unorganized.
Finally, it may simply mean they are not receiving the help from others they deserve on the job, making them resentful of management. 4. Give me an example of what an organization/management should do to cushion or prevent the effects of stress from a job. Watch out for the person who expects miracles from management to bail them out. Be suspicious of answers such as “supply enough staff” or “give us more picnics and social time. ” On the other hand, reasonable answers might include suggestions about break times, working conditions, involvement in decisions or better supervision.
Probe to determine whether the applicant has received what is needed in a past position. Could your organization supply these things? 5. Which situations have made you feel pleasantly stressed or excited at work? Give me an example please. Some people never feel this kind of stress at work. An applicant of this nature may be steady, but it is very unlikely that he or she will become an excellent employee. The best employees know this adrenaline surge well and welcome it. Can your position supply the situation they desire? 6. What happens to your work when you begin feeling pressured?
How do you know stress is affecting your work? Most applicants will list results such as more mistakes, more irritations occurring or working faster with less enjoyment. If your applicant claims that the pressure never affects the work, probe to determine what he or she has learned to do to reinterpret work pressures or shield him or herself from them. 7. What do you think would be the most stressful aspects of this job for you? Why? This question is a good way to determine if the applicant truly understands what he or she will face on the job.
The aspect they state is most likely what they fear being able to handle. Try to find out what about that job responsibility they anticipate will be troublesome. 8. How do you handle the need to juggle priorities or projects? What have you done to accomplish this? 4 Many applicants have had to face this sort of stress before, even those right out of college. Has the applicant responded by developing new techniques, a better “to do” list, for example? Better skills (such as increased assertiveness of an ability to manage upward”)? New values (learning to ‘roll with the punches”, for instance)?
The resourcefulness of the applicant is a test case for his/her ability to deal effectively with other stresses likely to be encountered on the job. 9. Have you ever had a key person you depended on who quit during an important job? What did you do? How did you feel about it? Ask this question especially if you are anticipating turnover in your organization. Those candidates who seem not to care may be unfeeling — on the other hand, they may have built up an internal mechanism which allows them to “block out” organizational stresses and still be productive.
Beware of those candidates who seem to care too deeply; turnover is a fact of organizational life. 10. What have you found to be the most effective way to avoid burn out’? How did you discover it? The important issue is whether the applicant has discovered it, not how and when. Watch closely whether the candidate seems truly to have faced and won the “burn out” baffle. Look for a person who understands stress, and has developed a healthy coping strategy through research and selfdiscovery. 11. Work pressures can often place pressure on life at home, too. How have you handled this?
Your best strategy here is to listen, be empathic and ask simple follow-up questions such as “why”, and ‘please tell me about that. ” Be careful of discriminatory questions, but keep your ears open for possible patterns of sickness, lateness, disability, substance abuse, emotional upheaval, etc. Motivation 1. What has made you feel excited about coming to work? When have you felt down or unfulfilled by a job? Probe for clear examples. Find out whether factors were involved which were unique to past jobs. Make sure the “excitement” can be generated again by factors within your current control. . In all of your jobs, which gave you the most meaningful experiences? Why? Ask follow-up questions to determine why they were meaningful. Look for experiences that are available through the position you are filling. 3. What do you need from an organization to feel motivated? Get specific answers which might include: working conditions, benefits, supervision, training, salary, raises and organizational culture. (Some organizations inhibit real motivation in all but the most internally-motivated. ) 5 4. Why did you choose this profession? What rewards does it give you?
Why do you stay in it? Look for a feeling of pride in work, of “that’s what I’m best at! ” Watch out for a feeling of resignation, of being at a dead end. 5. What should a manager do to motivate others? Why does it sometimes fail? This question can be used to interview supervisors and managers, as well as others. For the nonmanagement employee, it will often reveal the extent to which the applicant is self-directed as opposed to those who wait for others to motivate them. When the applicant tells you what the manager should do, he or she is, of course, telling you what he or she wants.
The manager’s efforts sometimes fail because ultimately, each employee must motivate himself or herself, and many factors are beyond the manager’s control. Does your applicant understand this? Does he or she take some responsibility for motivation? 6. When has your morale been the highest at work? Why? The answer should reveal what will motivate the candidate. If he/she discusses wages, benefits and a “steady” job situation, security is the candidate’s biggest concern. If he/she discusses situations when others recognized their work and he/she received status or position, your applicant may need a good bit of help with his or her self esteem.
If he/she recalls times when they worked among talented, friendly people, you will be able to motivate him/her best through peer pressure and the “team” concept. Finally, if the candidate speaks about work that was challenging and that provided growth, learning and increased responsibility, he or she must receive them through an interesting job well-suited to his or her talents. Obviously, you must determine if the job available matches the motivational need revealed. 7. Have you ever worked for or with someone who was highly motivated? In what ways are you like that person? Different?
You should receive a surprisingly honest answer to this question. Most applicants open up when describing someone else. Importantly, this question will help you determine what you cannot expect from the candidate if he/she is hired. 8. What is your definition of success? Follow-up: How are you measuring up? How will you go about achieving that goal? The definition stated must be matched to the position available. For example, if the answer puts success in terms of power, money, prestige or influence, the applicant will not be happy for long in most low-paying, non-exempt positions.
Try to discover how the job applied for will lead the applicant to his or her success goals. If he or she is unclear about this, the candidate will be unlikely to become a long-term, happy employee of your organization. Goal Orientation 6 1. Please describe how you set and measure your work goals. Is the applicant results-oriented? Determine how detailed the goals are and whether they seem realistic, measurable and specific. The extremely goal-oriented candidates set their own goals without waiting for others to instruct them.
In fact, they usually set goals for non-work activities as well. Does the candidate fit this profile? 2. Have you ever been held accountable for reaching a goal that you knew wasn’t possible to attain? What did you do? For the goal-oriented person, this situation will be almost intolerable. He or she will relate how hard they fought to overcome the situation, and will speak about what he or she was able to accomplish anyway. For others, they may speak about being unfairly treated, but their primary regret will not be that they were unable to achieve a goal. 3. Do you think M. B.