The 10 best questions to find out everything you need to know about candidates

With open positions needing filling, what sorts of questions should hiring managers be asking applicants?

There are more than 7 million job openings at this point in 2019, according to government data. And the unemployment rate is sub-4 percent, a strong sign that the job market favors candidates. So with open positions needing filling, what sorts of questions should hiring managers be asking applicants?

In no specific order, here are 10 interview questions to consider and why:

1. What do you know about the company/what interests you in the company?

Assess how much upfront work a candidate did when applying for a position at your company. Was this just another application in a batch of 10 they sent out? Did they take the time to form an opinion on your company's website, its trajectory or its differentiators?

2. What are your weaknesses?

This is always a tough one for any candidate. Even though applicants know it's going to be asked, it's still difficult to answer it confidently. Some will stumble in their response, and others may outright pivot to a different question altogether. See how capable a candidate is of answering a seemingly simple question without coming across as conceited or blameless.

3. Why are you leaving your current job?

The answer could range the full spectrum of fired, laid off, mutual separation, career change or new opportunities. Each of these permutations can impact how a candidate fits with your company and whether they're looking for any job or the perfect job.

4. How do you deal with company decisions you don't agree with?

Some staff members chafe at being overruled by supervisors or with having to perform a task they find to be tedious. In either case, the job still has to get done. If an applicant doesn't display a willingness to be managed or coached, they may not be a good fit for a given role.

5. Can we contact your former employer?

Some applicants may be taken aback by this. After all, they may have already provided references. But if a candidate expresses hesitation or discomfort with the possibility of you speaking with those who worked directly with you, it might be a red flag.

6. Do you feel you perform best autonomously or with a team?

In 2019, telecommuting is going mainstream. But not everyone performs well without direct, personal supervision or motivation. Set clear guidelines on what the role entails and whether working in a silo or telecommuting is an option.

7. What would you change about the company or the role?

Going back to the first question, applicants should already have designs to address the company's issues in mind. Sure, they're not employees just yet, but they should still have the ability to point out areas of improvement based on your company's web presence.

8. What are your salary expectations?

Go ahead and get in front of this one. However, be careful not to ask about salary history – asking about prior earnings may be prohibited by your state or local government.

9. Can you tell us about a problem you faced and how you solved it?

This question is expected yet still a tough one to answer with cool grace. Some applicants may ramble or answer unclearly. The goal is to see that they are able to identify problems and perform tasks that require lateral thinking.

10. Is there anything unique about you that makes you the best fit for this role?

If 100 people apply to your open position, you'll probably hear a lot about how much they love to travel in their free time, how they're avid hikers or that they love to read. But do any of these habits make candidates uniquely capable of doing the job? Does it differentiate them in any way? Ask about more than personal goals or characteristics: Evaluate how they connect those responses to actual professional duties.

"I also like to ask candidates to tell me something about themselves that I would not find on their resume," says Kristen Rodriguez, Senior Recruiting Manager for Beacon Hill's Technologies Division in Indianapolis. "I think it is helpful to understand someone's background – more than just their work experience. Their answer can tell me a lot about the candidate's personality and what they prioritize."

Connect with a professional recruiter from Beacon Hill Staffing Group to learn more.

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