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The job interview…let’s face it, they can be quite nerve wracking! No matter how prepared a candidate might be, they will probably have a few butterflies causing havoc. While you want to see how potential employees act in the interview environment, it benefits you to allow them to relax as much as possible.

One easy step to achieving this is to simply change the way you ask certain questions. You might know what you want to take from the answers to each question, but does the way you ask sometimes mean you don’t get the best answer the candidate has to offer. Here are some things to think about when you’re planning your next interview…

Learning about the candidate

Have you ever opened an interview with ‘So tell me a bit about yourself’? First of all it’s not actually a question yet it’s one of the oldest interview openers in the book. If you ask us, it’s getting a bit stale.

What is the starting point? Should they tell you what they do in their spare time or where they grew up? What exactly do you want them to tell you and what will you gain if you aren’t clear on this? Instead, you should ask them about their career journey so far which allows them to have clear instructions on what you want to hear and this gives you more insight. Ask about their spare time separately, just to glean what motivates them outside of their career.

How can a candidate develop in your company?

In other words, how will their career be positively impacted going forward? This is a fantastic alternative to the ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ question. They probably won’t tell the truth and let’s face it…5 years is a long time so they might not even be 100% sure themselves. You do not want an answer that is not 100%.

Ask what they want to develop next and how they think they can do that working with you. This allows you to understand what they really want to achieve at this company and how you can help with this. It’s always great to know exactly how you will be able to help these potential employees achieve what they want before they start working with you.

Defining career challenges

Asking people their weaknesses needs to stop! Instead, ask candidates what challenges they have taken on in their careers and exactly how they tackled these. Allow them to be open; what was the problem, how was it solved and how did they learn from it?

People will become closed off if they’re asked what they are weak at…no one wants to see anything in their career as a weakness. Therefore, it is vital to invite them to discuss how they learn from specific challenges and how they reflect on them. Not only will they be more detailed, it allows you to understand how their approach to career challenges will fit in your organisation or team.

Encourage discussion about career achievements

More specifically, ask potential employees their one greatest achievement so far. What are they most proud of in their career to date? This demonstrates to you what they value most in their career and what motivates them.

Potential employees will become more animated when asked about what they are proud of, which will give you a better gage of who they are as a person and if their best achievements can help your company and  team thrive even more.  

Free flowing conversation

You will never get to know a candidate and how they would fit in to your organisation unless to allow a conversation that flows naturally. Not only that, your questions need to invite them to be open and relaxed. When this happens, you will get the answers you really need to draw conclusions from. You can find more job interview tips on ‘The Panda Express’ if you’re after some good old fashioned job advice! 

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