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Optimise Your Hiring Skills with Five Power Questions

Gareth Greenidge


Kumar Appaiah/Flickr Kumar Appaiah/Flickr

We look at the five most important questions that you should be asking all potential hires when conducting an interview.

Recruiting the right people for your company is crucial for short, medium and long-term success. Businesses appreciate that there is a lot riding on having an effective, efficient recruitment process in place, because employing the wrong people can have serious ramifications.

Asking the right questions at the interview stage is a key component in making sound recruitment choices.


Bad Appointments Are Expensive

A recent study by Harvard Business Review concluded that as much as 80 per cent of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions. Furthermore, the Labour Research Department estimated that the cost of replacing such bad appointments are on average one-third of each person's salary.

Naturally, the higher up within the organisation that the turnover in staff occurs, the greater the cost.

Others argue that the Labour Research Department’s estimate is too conservative. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, for example, states that the cost of replacing poor appointments could be more in the region of two and a half times the person’s annual salary.

A poor appointment may also contribute to a loss of revenues because of bad decisions and poor job performance of the new member of the staff.

Existing Staff Motivation Suffers

Costs aside, the impact of hiring the wrong person has other far-reaching effects. The reputation of the appointee, staff morale and team cohesion can also be adversely affected. You may have witnessed first-hand the damaging results of appointing someone who is incompatible for a particular role in the team.

The reputation of the appointee, staff morale and team cohesion can also be adversely affected.

For any internal candidates who have been overlooked, staff motivation and trust in the recruiter as a co-worker are likely to suffer.

Staff may see a poor appointment as a signal that standards have declined and can become restless. They may begin to look for a fresh challenge elsewhere, consequently resulting in the potential loss of key staff.

In view of the importance of recruiting the right people, it is crucial that the interviewer maximises the job interview with potential recruits and to do that, he or she should ask questions that can expose whether the candidate is the right fit.

Our Top Five Questions

From everything you’ve learned about this role and our company, tell me how you feel you’d make a contribution.

This interview question will help you to determine a number of things about the interviewee. First, you will be able to discern how prepared and diligent the candidate is. In this digital age, there is absolutely no excuse for applicants not to do their homework. If the interviewee has put a lot into preparing for the interview, their effort will shine through in the answer to this question.

As the interviewer you will be looking for signs that the candidate has some cognizance of what the organisation's current aims and objectives are.

Additionally, for more senior recruits, you will likely be looking for them to demonstrate an understanding of the current financial outlook, potential challenges and opportunities ahead and how their skills, experience and knowledge can make a difference to the organisation.

Tell me about a time when things didn't go right, and what you did about it.

We all know that things do not always work out smoothly in the workplace, and this question helps you to get a feel for the candidate’s problem-solving abilities and level of experience in dealing with adversity.

As the interviewer, you should come away with a clear idea of how methodical the interviewee's approach is in dealing with difficulties, and how they cope under pressure.

What would you say are your two greatest weaknesses?

We all have weaknesses. Beware of any candidates who profess that they do not have any areas that they need to improve.

Look out for whether the candidate recognises the need for personal improvement and if they have a plan of action to address their weaknesses.

The answer to this question will also give you the opportunity to identify whether the candidate is being too candid, which might be a major red flag and a sign that they aren’t right for the job.

When asked this question, some candidates are adept at turning their weakness into a positive, which indicates that they have good alternative-thinking or sales skills.

Describe the best boss you’ve ever had.

This is a great interview question because it will provide you with an insight into previous working relations the candidate has had. It will also highlight the work types and personality that the applicant gels with the best.

The answer to this question should help you to understand more about the applicant’s work style, communication skills and potential fit within the company.

You can follow up with supplementary questions by asking the interviewee what made this relationship work so well. The answer should give you a feel for how the candidate likes to be managed. Do they prefer to be given autonomy? What leadership styles they prefer?

Where do you see yourself in five years?

This question will help you gain an understanding of whether the candidate is looking for a career or just a job. It will also reveal whether they have a realistic plan for the future.

What is so good about this question is that it reveals whether the candidate is ambitious, driven and motivated to progress within the company.

It will also reveal whether the candidate plans to stick around for the foreseeable future.

Gareth Greenidge

Kumar Appaiah/Flickr Optimise Your Hiring Skills with Five Power Questions By Gareth Greenidge We look at the five most important questions that you should be asking all potential hires when conducting an interview.