Talent At Work: Recruitment and Career Blog

What standard questions should employers ask prospective employees?

Posted on August 20th, by Karen Epp in Human Resources, In The Media, Interviewing Advice, Karen Epp. 1 Comment

Don’t forget to assess drive and motivation when hiring an employee

Business Meeting

CC:the tax haven

Camila Louzada: Global recruitment manager, Vision Critical

Interviewing can be an overwhelming experience; trying to assess a candidate’s entire history, skills and fit in an hour is quite the task. As a consequence, important questions not directly related to skills often fall through the cracks. But some of these questions can save you a lot of time – and money – by helping you assess whether a candidate will be successful in the long run.

1. OK, you can do the job, but do you really want it?

Many interviewers are focused on assessing technical skills and forget that if candidates are not really “into” the role, they won’t give 100%. Motivation is essential to get a job well done and will quickly make or break a new employee. Finding out what makes them tick and what environment makes them happy is crucial to success.

2. How does this role fit into your career plans?

Is this a long-term career plan or just a stepping stone to the candidate? Or even just a way to get income until the candidate finds the dream job elsewhere? Most importantly, is the candidate’s intention in line with what you are looking for? This will give you a much better idea if the candidate is there to stay.

3. What parts of this role are you strongest at and where do you see learning opportunities?

This will give you a good idea if the candidate is interested enough to take the time to study the job description while also getting you a good understanding of what skills the candidate already has and where the gaps are. If the candidate can make your assessment easier by providing these answers right away, why not go for it?

4. What is missing in your current role that you’d like to do in your next? And what do you not want to do?

A candidate might prefer to work individually while the role you’re looking to fill requires a lot of teamwork. Or a candidate might hate a noisy environment and your company’s is quite hectic. These questions will help you explore whether a candidate will be happy in the role and environment you have to offer.


Karen Epp: Senior accounting and finance recruiter, Goldbeck Recruiting

To find the right candidates, it is essential that you have a solid interview process in place. Come up with questions that will reveal their qualifications as well as their drive and motivations. To focus just on skill set alone is not the right approach, you need to discover if the candidate is a fit as a person first.

Employees that conflict with your company culture and values would be very detrimental to your team. Here are three questions that will reveal not only their qualifications but also their character.

1. Why do you want to work here?

A simple yet revealing question that never fails to indicate a person’s motivation. Cultural fit is as important as technical qualifications. Recruiters usually include this in the write-up, but it’s always good to ask this question in person. Candidates need to have the right reason for considering a job as much as the right qualifications.

2. What is the toughest decision you had to make?

Good candidates make a decision based on information and the people likely to be affected. Every decision, no matter how it looks on paper, will have an effect on people.

3. How did you add value? How did you create efficiency? How did you reduce costs? These three questions can be summed up in the question – Can you describe your accomplishments?

It is amazing to see the results I get from these questions. Many people have nothing to share. Good candidates always have examples of accomplishments.

We want to hire individuals who are motivated to make improvements, are creative in how they participate in their workplace, care about how they contribute and think about what they are doing, whether they are a clerk or a CFO.

These questions will draw this information out and you will find the “star.”


Cori Maedel: CEO, Jouta Performance Group

Employers not only miss asking some of the right questions, they often don’t take the time to put a process in place that supports a successful hire.

The process

•Ensure solid workforce planning from the start.

•Establish who oversees the recruitment process and who does the interviewing.

•Conduct a minimum of two to three interviews.

•Consider phone-screening candidates first.

•Where appropriate, include other team members in the final interview.

The interviews

•Have a plan.

•Set out questions and know what responses you seek.

•Allow candidates the time to also interview you.

The questioning

The power is not in having unique questions but in posing real-world scenarios, understanding and aligning philosophies, knowing how they operate and putting it all together to form an opinion.

•Ask about the role and your company – do they get it? Have they done their research?

•Ask questions that confirm they are aligned with your values, mission and goals – critical to ensuring fit.

•Have them walk through their story. Why have they made the decisions they have?

•Ask behavior-based questions and “what-if” scenarios; think about tough situations the role might face.

•Test their ability to do the job in real time; candidates who “act” through interviews can rarely fake this.

The Friday rule

Never let a candidate you interviewed go over a weekend without hearing from you, no matter the response.


Source: Reprinted from Business in Vancouver, Jul 23 2013

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Karen Epp

Finance & Accounting Recruiter at Goldbeck Recruiting Inc.
Karen Epp, CPC is the Senior Finance and Accounting Recruiter at Goldbeck Recruiting Inc and brings over twenty years of experience recruiting professionals in Accounting, Finance, Insurance, Banking, and Human Resources. One of the advantages of working with Karen in your search for Accounting Professionals is the extensive long standing relationships with candidates and reputable clients.

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