What Else Should I Be Asking You, and Other Job Interview Questions
I was once interviewed for a programmer position by a woman who was clueless about how to conduct an interview. After we exchanged pleasantries and she described the job, she confessed that she didn’t know what to ask.
I suggested several questions and then answered each of them. A week later, I was offered the position. I declined. I didn’t want to work for someone who was so unprepared.
Perhaps I was being too harsh. The woman was a project manager, not a recruiter. And the web didn’t yet exist as a place to locate possible questions or interview techniques. Still, it doesn’t seem like a huge stretch to think of questions that will help gauge whether an applicant is qualified for the position. And just a bit of curiosity about a candidate’s background and experience can surface useful information about the person’s ability to do the job.
Today, of course, it takes no more than a quick search to find the most common interview questions. (If you’re the interviewee, you can just as readily find suggested answers to the most common questions, along with tips and sample responses.)
If you’ll be conducting an interview, you can review lists of potential questions and develop your own list, allowing enough flexibility to pick and choose in the moment and to devise additional questions as the candidate’s responses warrant. Alternatively, you an conduct a structured interview by selecting a specific set of questions and asking each candidate the identical questions so as to facilitate a comparison of candidates.
If you’ll be interviewing as a team, determine who will ask what and under what circumstances you’ll deviate from scripted questions. And certainly allow ample opportunity for each candidate to ask you questions about the organization and position you’re hiring for—and make sure you’re prepared to answer such questions.
It’s usually a good idea near the end of an interview to ask, “What else should I be asking you?” Sometimes, information you’d otherwise have overlooked surfaces in response to this question.
By the way, it’s generally advisable to avoid asking wacky questions. If the job calls for exceptional creativity, a rollicking sense of humor, or an ability to think on one’s feet, it’s probably OK to ask questions like, “If you were a box of cereal, which would you be and why?” Otherwise, stick to questions that focus on the job requirements and the candidate’s qualifications to carry out the job.