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7 Difficult Questions to Ask Candidates at a Job Interview Job interviews are your only chance to meet an applicant and find out if they have the personality, character, and skills to make a great employee. But the job interview is only as useful as the questions you ask. When you conduct interviews, it’s important that you ask tough questions that will bring out a person’s true nature. If your questions are too easy, an intelligent but not necessarily qualified candidate is going to coast through them with platitudes and clichés, making it difficult to find out any meaningful information. Questions for Applicants •

“What are your three greatest weaknesses?”

The greatest weaknessquestion has become cliché, and most candidates are already prepared to answer it with some meaninglessanswer that they researched online. If you want to really challenge them, up the ante. Force them to continue to think about what their weaknessesmight be and see how they conduct themselves while they’re flustered. •

“… That’s great! Do you mind showing me right now?”

Often at the interview you’ll ask if the person is familiar with various software tools or other skills that they need to complete the job adequately. Candidates also lie – or at least they exaggerate the truth. When you conduct interviews, you need to make sure that your applicants are being honest, and there’s an easy way to do this – once you’ve asked if the person has a particular skill, ask them to prove it to you right then and there. You don’t need to actually have them prove it. All you need to do is see their reaction. Candidates that do not truly know how to do what they claimed will give some excuse such as “well, it’s been a while, so I may be rusty.” Candidates that truly have the skill will confidently say yes. •

“Pouvons-nous continuer l'entrevue d'emploi en français?”

When you conduct interviews, it’s not uncommon to look for candidates that are multilingual. Candidates, however, are much more likely to claim they know a language that they have only a cursory knowledge of – such as taking a few classesin college. Do they truly know the language?You can find out by asking them in the language they claim to be familiar with whether or not they are willing to continue the interview in that language. •

“What did you not like about your last job?”

It’s always useful to give applicants a chance to complain about their previous place of employment. Candidates that are not prepared for interviews or are particularly negative will jump at the chance to complain about their supervisors, coworkers or their job, and often within the language they use you can also see something that is indicative of their own flaws. For example “My supervisor didn’t appreciate my work” may also mean “I didn’t do work worth appreciating.” •

“Describe your ideal job.”

This question can be very tricky, especially for management jobs. Candidates need to make sure that the language they use to describe their ideal job doesn’t preclude them from the position they’re interviewing for. However, they also need to make sure it doesn’t sound like they’re tailoring their answer strictly for the open position. •

“If five legged aliens took over the world, how many sake houseswould they build?”

No, you don’t need to ask that specific question. But you should consider asking at least one question that is nothing short of ridiculous. This provides you with several benefits. First, you throw the applicant off their game, becausethere is no way they have prepared an answer for that question. Next, it shows their ability to think on their feet, which is a sign of intellect. Finally, it will show how seriously they’re taking the interview. Their physical and verbal reaction to the question may say a lot about their personality. •

“Do you have any questions?”

It’s amazing how much a question can say about an applicant, which is why every time you conduct interviews (phone interviews, personal interviews, etc.) you should ask this question. Candidates that have nothing to ask are often desperate for a job, and are afraid to ask any questions that sound unintelligent. Questions that are unintelligent may show little understanding of the company. This question is brief but vital towards finding the right applicant. Preparing the Right Questions Before You Conduct Interviews Ideally, companies could employ an individual for a day, judge how well they succeed at their job, and turn down those that fail. But your only opportunity to find out if a potential employee has what it takes to succeed is at the job interview. Ask the right questions, and you improve your chance at finding a great applicant. For more ideas from Saxon on how to conduct successful interviews, pleasecontact him through

7 Difficult Questions to Ask Candidates at a Job Interview  

Job interviews are your only chance to meet an applicant and find out if they have the personality, character, and skills to make a great em...

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