The transformative question for hiring insights

As a hiring manager sits face to face with the applicant in perhaps the final round of the interview cycle, a huge responsibility lies on his shoulder to make a critical decision in choosing the best talent for the organisation’s requirement. Will he be a valuable contributor? Will she fit into the company culture?

This is the moment of truth in recruitment. Hours of work have been spent on vetting, validating and analysing candidate information and skills gleaned through the application, preliminary interviews and reference checks. And however critical this face time is, it is still limited in terms of time. What questions can spot both major affirmations and red flags?

If there was one question that would trump all others in learning significantly about the candidate, what would it be? Let us get to the answer by looking at the critical aspects the hiring manager actually wants the answers for.

4 critical candidate aspects to know

1. How important is the job to the candidate?

This directly impacts the level of energy, commitment and engagement that the candidate will display. Is it the company’s reputation, its culture, the job content, the position or compensation?

2. What is the candidate’s strongest and weakest link to the organisation’s culture?

Every candidate has his strengths. Will the obvious strengths and strong potential fit in with and contribute to the role, the team and the organisation?

3. Why does the candidate think he is the right person for the opening?

This will reveal the seriousness with which the candidate has understood the total picture - of the organisation, the role responsibilities, the culture, individual strengths and attitudes.

4. What does the candidate consider her most significant accomplishment to date?

From the candidate’s choice of the accomplishment to the underlying details, this would give the manager insights and reaffirmation into skills, attitudes and behaviors that were evaluated in the previous rounds.

One question that allows the insight to reveal itself

Let us assume that the hiring manager is looking positively to select rather than reject. Even so, he faces the challenge of a candidate who most probably has prepared enough with the right answers not to be rejected. What is needed is a question that will open up the stage for the candidate to reveal remarkable insights - insights that will actually enable the right candidate to showcase their strengths better.

For the hiring manager, they can reveal the alignment of purpose between the applicant and the organisation to connect the dots better. What if the interviewer asked the following question - “How have you prepared yourself for this role and interview?”

It is a simple question that brings alive the true sense of purpose for both the players seated across the interview table. It begins a dialogue process with the best elements of storytelling. A gentle nudge here, a simple encouragement to elaborate a little more, and the candidate can reveal so many complementing performance aspects. Like for instance:

  • A future-oriented vision and an ability to see the next step with clarity
  • The positive ability to challenge the status quo
  • Openness to and keenness for learning
  • What actually enthuses and excites about work
  • Personality nuances that the manager may be looking for the role and the team
  • Ability to take on higher responsibilities or working under stress
  • The extent of accountability
  • Relationship skills and maturity levels in problem and conflict resolution

As the candidate opens up, the manager will also find the right openings to aptly articulate the organisation’s purpose. Most important though, it reveals the seriousness and meticulousness with which the candidate has approached the responsibility of directing his career move. For it is this meticulousness that will translate into commitment and passion for the job that he may be ultimately offered.

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