JOB interviews can be daunting – for both prospective employees and employers alike.
There's a lot of pressure to perform, and employers have a big responsibility to hire the candidate that is the perfect fit for the role and the company.
But it can be hard to get an idea of what someone is like in such a short amount of time, so if you're looking to employ someone how can you make the most of that very small window of opportunity?
Dulcie Swanston – founder of Top Right Thinking and former head of HR for Mitchells & Butlers – says: "I don’t use interviews to ask about skills, as people have a CV for that.
"Time is short and precious so I focus on simple but interesting questions to give you the relevant information in a short amount of time.
"Sometimes it’s not what you ask, but how you ask it.
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"A genuine conversation and not something that feels like an interrogation will mean people will feel safer to be truthful.
"Human brains simply can’t supply their best or most truthful answers when our fight / fight/ freeze response is triggered.
"We do our best work for people we like, who make us feel safe and who challenge us — all at the same time!
"I see an interview as a great place to start to form that productive working relationship."
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Here, Dulcie shares burning questions she believes you should ask any potential employee…
1. Tell me about a time you were proud of something you achieved?
Dulcie says: "Always ask ‘open’ questions — avoid questions that can be answered with a straight ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
"This is a nice broad question that starts somewhere positive. It can be good to ask about life – not just work.
"Research shows we produce better results when doing work we enjoy, which plays to our strengths.
"Asking about real-life achievements draws out strengths, along with other helpful information like behaviours and values."
Strengths and skills
2. What would you particularly enjoy about working here?
Dulcie says: "As well as giving scope to talk about strengths and skills, this question has the benefit to reveal if someone has done their homework on the workplace.
"Consider the values of your workplace and the needs of the role."
3. Let’s talk about an example of you persevering through something you found difficult at work?
Dulcie says: "Change is hard.
"Persevering through challenges is difficult and life around us is changing faster than ever before.
"This is a great question because you can see how someone tackles tough times, and you also get more insight into their strengths and values.
"Use a simple question as a starting point and then probe further to deep dive into specific areas that are particularly relevant to your job.
Saying “Tell me more about…” and using their language to fill the blanks is a great way to do that."
Pros and cons
4. What’s been your favourite job in your career so far?
5. What’s been your least favourite job?
Dulcie says: "People quite like being asked questions that explore both sides of the coin — and you get deeper insight too!
"You might meet a great person but these questions help you to be realistic about how close your job is to their preferences."
6. What three words would colleagues use to describe you on a good day?
7. What three words might they use to describe you on a bad day?
Dulcie says: "For most jobs, you want someone who has humility, and a sense of humour!
"Review any stock questions you are currently using and try to give them a good day/bad day twist.
Honesty is the best policy
8. What feedback have you received at work that was hard to hear?
Dulcie says: "I’m not a fan of hypothetical or ‘trick’ questions that catch people out.
"Good interviews are about being curious about how people have approached real-life challenges, how self-aware they are and how transferable and relevant their skills are to what you are after.
"But sometimes the best questions are difficult ones.
"Someone can prepare and take a breath if you tell them a question is going to be a toughie.
"The best employees want to get better at whatever they do and feedback is one of the best ways we grow and learn.
"I’m wary if people can’t think of anything.
"In my experience, people who aren’t afraid to listen to feedback and learn something will outperform people who think they are the finished article.
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"The most successful people I work with are always on the lookout for feedback.
"They don’t think they are finished or perfect — that’s a key part of them being the best!"
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