Reading Between the Lines: 4 Key Questions to Ask Candidates in an Interview

Interviews provide hiring managers with an opportunity to get to know job applicants. If those managers have done their due diligence when screening resumes, all the candidates who make it to the interview phase should be qualified for the job, so choosing the right one is a matter of paying attention to detail and reading between the lines. Contact Leadership Alliance to schedule executive assessments or read on to find out about four key questions to ask candidates during their interviews to learn more.

How Would Lower-Level Employees Describe the Candidates Management Style?

Most interviewers know to ask how the candidates would describe their own management styles, and that basic question can offer insight into whether he or she would be a good match for the company. However, it can be even more telling to ask how others perceive the person’s style and techniques. If the candidate laughs off others’ perceptions or downplays the challenges of management, the chances are his or her leadership skills leave something to be desired.

Look for candidates that offer detailed answers instead of platitudes, and ask follow-up questions. If the candidate says his or her former employees felt supported, for example, ask what the person did to make them feel that way. Make sure to push for specific examples.

What Is the Person’s Top Natural Strength?

It’s a myth that outstanding leaders are born, not made, but every person does have innate strengths and weaknesses. Asking about the candidate’s top natural strength will give the interviewer an idea of his or her unique value proposition. Most people hiring for management positions look for candidates that have strong people skills, organizational skills, and personal motivation.

As with all basic interview questions, this one requires follow-ups. Ask for specific examples of how the person’s top natural strength has helped in the workplace and find out what areas the candidate feels may need improvement.

What Conflicts Came Up Between Prior Employees and How Were They Handled?

Managers don’t just have to manage their own relationships with the employees who work beneath them. They also have to be skilled in facilitating conflict resolution in circumstances that don’t directly involve them. Asking about specific examples of conflicts in the workplace and how they were resolved gives interviewers an idea of how the job candidate will handle future issues as they come up. Make sure the candidate’s responses show that he or she listened to both employees’ sides and came up with a solution that worked for everyone.

What Are the Top Priorities for Managing the Workplace?

It’s important for candidates to be able to prioritize. A good manager will recognize opportunities for positive change and know what situations require immediate attention. Problems will come up even in well-established companies with devoted employees. Knowing that a candidate will be able to keep them in perspective, stay focused and on-track, and inspire employees to do the same can increase a hiring manager’s confidence in the candidate’s abilities.

The Bottom Line

Stay engaged during the interview and ask plenty of follow up questions, and pay attention not just to the candidate’s answers, but also to his or her tone and body language. Hiring managers need to be able to read between the lines and evaluate candidates based not just on how they want to portray themselves but on who they really are.

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Author: Eddy

Eddy is the editorial columnist in Business Fundas, and oversees partner relationships. He posts articles of partners on various topics related to strategy, marketing, supply chain, technology management, social media, e-business, finance, economics and operations management. The articles posted are copyrighted under a Creative Commons unported license 4.0. To contact him, please direct your emails to editor.webposts@gmail.com.