Underrated Interview Questions: Why Ask Them, And What the Answers Can Tell You

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So you’ve carefully combed through the resumes, paying special mind to the sometimes subtle clues that identify people with real potential. You’ve done all your interview prep, and you’re finally ready to start the in-person interviews.

This could be your last chance to get to know a candidate better before you make the hire. You need to learn as much of the meaty important stuff about them now while you still can. Do you know what you’re going to ask? Not to discount the classics, but there are more revealing questions out there than “Tell me about yourself” and “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Before the interview begins, make sure you provide a review of the role as well as a high-level look at the company’s culture and your team’s dynamics. The best candidates will make sure their answers speak specifically to how they would contribute to the role and how they would fit in on the team.

It’s good to decide early on which answers are deal breakers, keeping in mind that most new employees will need a little extra training or support to get ramped up. Knowing where that line between “a little help getting started” and “isn’t going to work out here” is will make the process easier for you.

What to ask: a few of the overlooked questions

Below are some examples of more strategic questions that will help gauge somebody’s abilities beyond the standard line of questioning.

These questions can reveal a lot, so make sure you structure the interview in such a way that you’ll learn as much as possible from them.

Be empathetic to how nerve-wracking an interview can be for an applicant, and give them time to remember examples and frame their answers.

What do you know about our company? Has the candidate done their homework? Do they care enough about the job to learn as much as they can prior to speaking to you? This one will help you quickly identify whether the answer is yes or no.

Describe your career progression and the story it tells about you. This question focuses a spotlight on the reasons behind the different roles you might see on a resume and the guiding goals and interests behind them.

Why do you want this job/think you can do this job? This is another question that probes whether the person you are interviewing took the time to learn about your business and genuinely believes they have something to offer. Do they want this job, or do they want any job?

Describe past team dynamics that either inspired your best work or held you back (or both). This question gives you some insight into what kind of work environment the candidate thrives in and whether your company culture can provide it.

Give an example of an unsuccessful project you’ve worked on. Personal growth and self-awareness are important qualities, not only for an employee but in people in general. The gist of this question is to identify whether the person you are interviewing is able to learn when things don’t turn out the way they might hope and if they possess that grit and accountability to better themselves and try again. If a candidate…

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