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People strategy

The Three Stages to Perfect Interview Question Design

Nam Nguyen

question-mark-2123967_640.jpgWhen it comes to maximising your hiring outcomes, every interview question matters.

According to recent research conducted by CV-Library, more than 66% of recruiters report having wasted thousands of pounds on bad hiring decisions. By compromising productivity, undermining employee morale, damaging client relations and potentially forcing a new candidate search, a single bad hire can easily cost upwards of £50,000.

Thanks to ongoing global skills shortages — especially in tech and tech-adjacent sectors — many companies are having a hard time locating qualified candidates, and an even harder time convincing them to accept a job offer. More and more companies are turning to video interviewing software in order to provide a highly engaging application experience while simultaneously enhancing their ability to evaluate candidates.

Not only are video assessments six times faster than telephone interviews, they also offer much clearer insights into candidates’ communication skills, composure, emotional intelligence and cultural fit. What’s more, effective video interviewing platforms enable you to standardise all of your interview questions and evaluate every candidate according to uniform criteria, both of which contribute to a fairer, more consistent hiring process.

Since this may still be a new approach for many companies — especially large enterprises with legacy hiring processes, we’ve outlined some of the most important things to consider when crafting interview questions and assessment criteria.

Designing the Perfect Interview Question

An ideal candidate experience is, among other things, a streamlined one. Unsurprisingly, candidates tend to become frustrated when they feel that a company is asking irrelevant questions. As such, each question you pose to your candidates should be designed to measure some specific quality or trait that your team believes to be essential to the position for which you’re hiring. Designing questions with this level of laser-focused specificity requires a three-stage procedure.

Stage 1:

The first step toward an optimised video interview question is clarifying what you are looking for and how you will recognise it. Consider details like, “How am I judging who is most suitable for each role? What skills and behaviours are required?” and “What does ‘good’ look like in terms of a candidate I’d like to shortlist?” Then, with this settled, ask yourself, “How am I gauging experience, skill-sets, attitude and motivation at each step of the interview process?” and “How is my team going to make the final decision about who is right for the role?”

Stage 2:

After you’ve established a set of tentative questions based on the fundamental considerations outlined above, refine your list by assessing your own assessment approach, as it were. Does each question serve a purpose? What precise skill or behaviour does Question X bring to light? Are your questions both clear and open-ended? Remember, you’re trying to prompt your candidates to elaborate on their strengths, weaknesses and experience, and your questions should be directed to that end.

Stage 3:

Finally, look at the sum of your questions and consider them in light of the candidate experience. Have you included too many questions, and are you, therefore, potentially asking too much of your candidates? Are some of your questions only marginally relevant to the position? Approach each question from a potential candidate’s perspective to ensure that he or she will be properly motivated to answer them all.

Creating Accurate and Objective Assessment Criteria

Once you’ve set your questions, you need to create a quantifiable, consistently applicable standard by which to evaluate candidate responses. It’s critical that you establish clear assessment criteria for each key trait a candidate is expected to demonstrate, as doing so facilitates equitable processes by ensuring that each candidate is judged according to the same metrics.

Although you shouldn’t design too many questions for which there is a single “right” answer, it does help to have your team agree on what an “ideal” or “exceptional” answer might look like. Consistency is the goal here, meaning whenever possible, all reviewers should receive identical training so as to guarantee that everyone on your side of the video screen is on the same page.

In terms of the character of your criteria, each question should receive a numeric rating scale with clear explanatory language outlining what each value represents. It’s also helpful to allow reviewers to offer comments alongside their numeric scores, as often a particular mark needs a certain amount of contextualisation to make full sense.

And while the more focussed the question,the better, within a large organisation it can be unrealistic to expect a unique set of questions for every position that needs to be filled. In order to tailor more general questions for specific situations, consider weighting certain criteria more heavily than others depending upon the demands of each job.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, your hiring outcomes are largely dependent on the quality of your assessment design. Each stage of your process, from talent attraction to screening to interviewing, should be aligned with the core values and expectations of your company. This will not only enhance your ability to identify right-fit talent, but also keep them motivated and engaged throughout the entire candidate journey. Put simply, if you want your recruitment strategy to be the answer to longstanding organisational issues, you need to make sure you’re asking the right questions first.

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Nam Nguyen

Nam is Launchpad's Customer Success Manager. With 9 years experience in customer facing roles, Nam is the secret to our happy and satisfied customers.