What Interviewers Should Uncover During a Job Interview

David Levine| February 12, 2019| Employers

If you’re tasked with conducting a job interview at your company it’s your responsibility to uncover details about the candidate that will help your organization determine if they’re the right fit or not for the job. And while a conversational format is probably more comfortable for you and the candidate than an outright interrogation, it’s still important to have a set of points to uncover the insights that will help you determine which candidate is the best for your business.

Keep these questions in the back of your mind throughout the job interview:

Is this candidate qualified?

Let’s start with the most essential point: can the candidate actually do the job. While chemistry, personality and soft skills are also very important, hard skills are generally a must-have, unless the candidate has transferable skills or it’s acceptable for the candidate to be trained. As long as the candidate can perform the required tasks, functions and responsibilities, you can check this box. If not, be prepared to justify why that person should still be considered.


What soft skills does the candidate offer? 

Knowing how to uncover a person’s soft skills isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely necessary to get a true picture of that candidate. The most common examples of soft skills include: work ethic, reliability, leadership, attitude, confidence, adaptability, communication skills, problem solving, time management, collaboration and a stable work history. Assess how the person thinks, tackles challenges, works well with others and can prioritize responsibilities. You can ask things like how they corrected a situation that didn’t go according to plan, how they overcame challenges or what matters most to them at work.


Is the candidate a cultural fit? 

The goal of this question is to identify people who will thrive in your company’s culture. You want to know if will they succeed in–and even enhance–your company’s environment. It’s important to determine if the candidate shares your company’s vision and mission. For example, if the candidate reveals they like quiet, slow-moving environments but your company has a fast- paced, high energy culture, the candidate may not be a good fit. Discuss things like management style, what makes a positive work environment, a team-focused approach vs. working alone and what the candidate looks for in a company and co-workers.   


Does the candidate understand what you do? 

Having a great combination of hard and soft skills can seem like you’ve struck gold. But what if the candidate doesn’t fully understand what your company does? In some cases that may not be critical, especially if they can learn along the way. But if the position is in marketing, sales, customer service or other areas where the person is responsible for directly impacting the company’s mission and direction, they must have a working knowledge about what you do and how you do it.


What special qualities can the candidate bring to the role?  

Say you have 5 candidates who are all basically even. Think of this question as extra credit. Special qualities really set candidates apart from the pack. Do they have some sort of unique experience, skill set, outstanding accomplishments or a notable endorsement?  Maybe they interpret the position in a really unique way that elevates the purpose of the role. It could be that one candidate has a higher level of professionalism, insight, diplomacy, intelligence or other qualities as compared to the other candidates.


How interested is the candidate in the job and the company?  

It’s one thing for a candidate to have the skills and qualities you’re looking for, but it’s very important to gauge their interest in the job itself. Are they mildly into the role or are they really enthusiastic and full of ideas? Of course, different candidates show their interest for a job in different ways, but you want to come away from an interview knowing if the candidate is genuinely enthusiastic about the opportunity.  If the candidate offers ideas about the role you didn’t even think of or if they ask a lot of questions about the company those are great signs. At the risk of being blunt, if the candidate isn’t interested in you, you may not want to be interested in them. Be as sure as you can before going too far in the process.


Does the candidate have interests or hobbies, especially those that translate to the job?  

If you’re interviewing someone the most important thing you can do is to connect with them on a personal level. Humanize the experience. Get to know your candidate as a person. By asking about hobbies or interests, you might uncover if that person is competitive or team-oriented, creative, passionate or has leadership qualities. You can get a sense of how they think and how they work with others.


So while it’s easy to go off script and you’ll naturally want to go where the conversation takes you, keeping these must-have questions in mind will lead to a more productive and informative job interview.