Hiring The Best People: Best Questions That Determine Ability

As a business owner or manager, the three dimensions of a potential employee you need to explore in the hiring interview are the job applicants ability, motivation and attitude. Ability is usually the easiest and most straight forward to determine that include the candidates education, work history and job performance.

The following interview questions can help you move through this part of the interview quickly before getting to the more difficult questions that reveal motivation and attitude in the workplace.

Remember to always go from generalities to specifics in your line of questioning in the job interview. If you get a different impression from the first general question than you get from the more specific follow up questions that may be a red flag you want to follow up with more questions.

Education Training

Depending on the educational requirements of your opening, you can explore the applicants general academic background and attitudes about learning with:

* What were the main factors that influenced your decision to select your course of study?

* What were your best subjects?

* What classes did you have to work at the hardest?

* Did you receive any scholarships or grants?

* What do you feel is the most valuable contribution your educations made to your worklife?

When interviewing younger applicants without much work experience ask:

* What have you excelled at?

This helps determine their framework for excellence. It may be sports, debating or tinkering with electronic gadgets, but what youre trying to determine is if they have a personal history of excellence and a mature attitude about delayed rewards gratification that striving for excellence requires.

Work History

The applicant comes prepared to talk about their work accomplishments, so this is a relatively easy part of the interview for them to discuss in a mater-of-fact way. It sets the tone for the interview by making clear that you expect very specific answers to your questions, and establishes the framework to evaluate the more intangible aspects of attitude and motivation later in the interview.

Review their work history in chronological order, concentrating most of your attention on the last three jobs.

* When did you join the company?

* What was your title when you were hired?

* What circumstances led to you being offered the job?

This question will sometimes tell you if they were hired on the basis of merit, or perhaps because they were someones brother-in-law.

* Who did you report to?

Their relationship with this boss is an important subject youll return to later in the interview and explore in depth. For now, you just want to get the name for the record.

* What was your bosss title and job functions?

Asking this question discourages the applicant from exaggerating their role and the importance of their own contribution.

* What were your primary responsibilities?

* What do you consider were your most important accomplishments at this job?

Remember to give sincere praise where its deserved. Then clarify their answer with:

* What was your specific role in these accomplishments?

* What role did others play?

If you get a different impression after these clarifying questions than you had from their initial description, thats a red flag youll want to take note of.

* What other functional, day to day activities were you involved with that I should know about?

* What impact did you have on the company?

* What did you learn most from this job?

After describing the scope of their duties, determine what they were paid for these responsibilities.

* What was your starting salary?

* Was this an increase from your former salary?

* What was your salary when you left?

This establishes the level of salary increases the applicant has accepted in the past and upon making job changes.

* What were your reasons for leaving?

This is a commonly asked question and youll often get a rehearsed answer. The more meaningful information usually comes from the follow-up question:

* How did your boss contribute to your decision to leave?

Watch the non-verbals here closely for a sense of whats not being said.

If they were fired, of course, youll want to determine the facts that led up to the firing. Remember to look for any gaps in their employment history that may indicate youre not getting the full story. These can be probed with;

* Why were you out of work for so long?

* Why have you changed jobs so often?

Job Performance

Past performance predicts future achievement. Probe for very specific information on what problems the applicant solves on the job and how well they do it.

* Describe your typical workday. What are the biggest problems you face on a regular basis?

* What special skills and knowledge do you have to solve these problems?

* What would you say are your three most outstanding skills?

See how closely their answer matches what youre looking for. Attitudes about job experiences usually tell more about the person than a description of job functions. You can get at performance strengths and weaknesses in a non-threatening manner by exploring likes and dislikes. People tend to prefer doing things they do best, and dislike what they feel weak in.

* What types of things do you feel most confident doing?

* What job functions in your daily worklife do you like to do least?

Determine how performance is evaluated on their current job.

* Does your present company have a formal performance evaluation system?

* How is performance evaluated?

Strive for specific information about performance with:

* In what areas has your supervisor been most complimentary?

* What adjectives have been used to describe your workstyle?

* What aspects of your performance have been criticized?

* How do you feel about this criticism?

Remember to down play negative information the applicant acknowledges. Most people wont openly discuss a negative if they think the interviewer feels its significant. To see how theyve integrated the criticism:

* How have you improved your performance in these areas?

* What has been the result of your efforts?

Another non-threatening way to get at shortcomings is to ask about growth, which invariably will be in areas theyve felt weak:

* How do you feel youve grown most over the last three years?

* We all improve our decision making ability as we gain experience. How have you improved your decision making ability most?

Always remember job applicants come to the hiring interview with the goal of giving you the answers they think you want to hear. Questions about ability, education, work history and job performance are the type of questions that is easiest for applicants to prepare for so expect rehearsed answers. Questions about motivation and attitude in the hiring interview are equally important to explore to get past surface appearance for the information you really want.

Steve Penny author of Hiring The Best People has been asked to speak on a href=http://hiringthebestpeople.comBest Job Interview Questions/a at the largest human resource conferences in the world. Video clips of this presentations and 7 Ways To Motivate People That Dont Cost A Penny may be viewed at a href=http://hiringthebestpeople.com/7waysmotivate.htmlhttp://hiringthebestpeople.com/a