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Are you Asking the Right Questions?

The key to a good interview is asking the right questions but what is a good question to ask?

Asking the right questionsOne key fact remains true for most recruits: what they were doing in their last job is a very good indicator of what they will do for you.  With this in mind, structure your questions around the key behaviour and competencies that you want in the new candidate – ie, competency based questions.

Competency based questions or competency questions are interview questions that require candidates to provide real life examples as the basis of their answers.  (See also Jeff Grout’s blog “What exactly does making love, driving and recruitment have in common?“)

Firstly, you need to list the desired behaviours/competencies that the role demands and ask questions that will find evidence to prove that the interviewee has (or doesn’t have) the skills you need.

Let’s take a particularly challenging role to fill, the sales person, and let’s say you really want this individual to be a real new business go-getter – not an order taker. So, in this instance the core competency could be ‘the ability to lead and drive new business opportunities’.

The questions you might ask, therefore, could be:

  1. Tell me about a piece of new business that you have won that you are most proud of?
    [Is it the sort of business you would want?]
  2. How did this opportunity come about?
    [Did they hunt out the lead or were they given it?]
  3. How was this business selected as a prospect?
    [Did they think through the new business process or was it random?]
  4. What exactly did you do?
    [Did they do it all or was a team involved?]
  5. Who else was involved in the first meeting?
    [Did they sell it or was it their boss?]
  6. What was the key selling benefit(s) that they brought?
    [Was it the product that sold itself or did they sell the product?]
  7. What happened after the sale?
    [did they sell more product or did they lose the customer]
  8. Why was this piece of new business the one you were most proud of?
    [was this a one-off and they were proud because of this or did it instigate  a string of New business being won]

Planning what you’ll ask to prove that your candidate has the desired behaviours/competencies required by the role, will ensure that you are asking the right questions.  If you don’t ask the right questions, how can you possibly hope to find the right person?

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