Welcome to the second installment of our three-part intro to interviewing! Interviews are the heart of your hiring process. By deciding on the right types (last time, part one), deciding on the right questions (this time, part two), and honing your skills for interviewing candidates (next time, part three), you can start interviewing like a Hiring Expert.
In this article, we’ll dive into the different types of job interview questions and how to decide on the right questions to ask.
Creating Interview Questions
These are the four most common interview question types and how you can apply them.
Verification Interview Questions
What: These questions are used to verify a candidate’s credentials and experience. They can be thought of as “fact-based” questions.
Why: Ask a few verification questions to make sure you understand a candidate’s resume and skillset.
Why Not: Ask too many of these questions and a candidate may simply repeat their entire resume. You can lose the opportunity to dig deeper and learn something that’s not on their resume.
- What were your dates of employment?
- What were your job responsibilities?
- Have you ever worked with X software?
Opinion Interview Questions
What: These questions ask about a candidate’s perspective (or opinion). These also include situational questions.
Why: Opinion questions can provide valuable insight into how a candidate thinks, what motivates them, what values they hold, and how they solve problems.
Why Not: A candidate’s answer to an opinion question may not match up with their actual behaviors.
- What would you do in X situation?
- Where do you see your biggest opportunities for improvement?
Behavioral Interview Questions
What: Behavioral questions ask for examples of how a candidate has behaved in the past.
Why: Assuming that past behavior is most indicative of future behavior, you can use behavioral questions to predict a candidate’s success in a new role.
Why Not: I recommend always using behavioral questions, but beware of asking ten or twenty in a row. This can be exhausting for candidates, so make sure you’re asking the most important ones.
- Tell me about the last time you received feedback and how you responded to it.
- Tell me about a time it was particularly important to make a good first impression with a client.
Random Interview Questions
What: Want to go totally bananas? Random questions are the catch-all deviations from traditional questions.
Why: Random and problem-solving questions fade into and out of popularity, but there can be some merit in throwing one into your interview scorecard to gauge skills like creativity, the ability to maintain composure under pressure, and comfort with vulnerability.
Why Not: One or two of these are fine, but don’t take up too much of your interview space with these questions. You’ll typically learn much more about a candidate from the first three types of questions.
- Problem Solving Question: How many cows are in Canada?
- Bizarre: What do you think of hula hoops?
- At CareerPlug: What would you title your life story?
Deciding What To Ask
Most interviews will have a mix of verification, opinion, and behavioral questions. When deciding which questions are right for you, first return to your Ideal Candidate Profile. Review the desired skills, talents, and behaviors for the role — what questions will help you evaluate those criteria?
You can also match interview questions with your company’s core values to ensure you’re hiring people who align with your company culture. For example, one of CareerPlug’s core values is “Go Above & Beyond.” To us, that means going above the call of duty, having proven grit and perseverance, and holding oneself to a high standard.
Here are some questions we might ask to evaluate if a candidate also holds this value:
- Tell me about a time you went above and beyond what was expected of you? (behavioral)
- What motivates you to achieve excellence in your work? (opinion)
- Give me an example of when you tried to accomplish something and failed? (behavioral)
CareerPlug Inside Look: We rely heavily on behavioral questions in our interview process and have seen the payoff. For example, we often ask candidates to tell us about a time that they failed. We like this question because it reveals how someone deals with adversity, how they process and learn from setbacks, and how self-aware they are about past mistakes.
One candidate, when asked, thought about it for a minute, and then replied that they had never failed. For us, this was the wrong answer. It was easy for us to tell that they didn’t have the growth mindset we were looking for. We moved forward with other candidates.
- Evaluate your interview questions. What list of questions do you use today? How can you implement more behavioral questions into your process? Are your questions drawing out the information you need to fully evaluate a candidate?
- Create interview questions that match your company’s core values. Go through your company’s core values and draft questions that will help you evaluate whether candidates also hold those values.
- Decide on the type of interview that best matches the questions you want to ask. Read part one of this guide to interviews.
For the next installment in this series, check out The Hiring Manager’s Guide to Interviews, Part 3.