I’ve interviewed countless candidates over the phone during my career.
When I first started, I would ask direct questions relating to the job I had the candidate in mind for.
I would say………
I have a job Programming using Catia CADCAM can you do that? Yes!
It’s working in the Aerospace Industry is that an industry you’ve worked in? Yes!
It’s paying such and such are you happy with that? Yes!
The problem with this scenario is that the candidate obviously isn’t qualifying their answers, and I still have no idea what they actually want out of their next job.
Experience taught me the hard way!
As a company we interview candidates on a daily basis.
We ask up to 40 questions of each candidate before we asses them for the job in hand we’re recruiting for.
The reason we do this is to first find out what they’re looking for and then if relevant match them to the position.
I can’t share all of the questions we ask our candidates with you but I can share 10 that I think would be helpful to you.
1-Why are you available for a new position
Why did you leave your last job or why do you want to leave your current job is always a key question.
If the candidate’s in a position currently, I want to know why they want to move. In my experience assuming it’s career development or better money is the wrong approach.
Think about what would cause you to leave your job.
It may be something about the job you don’t like or the people you work with or the company that would be causing you to move.
Money alone is never normally the sole reason.
Whatever the reason then the opposite must exist in your position, by that I mean that if they left due to lack of career opportunity you’re going to find yourself in a similar position if you can’t offer a career opportunity the candidate is interested in. The same would apply to most other reasons poor parking, bad manager, commute too far, being underpaid in their opinion for the job they’re doing, I’ve heard all sorts of reasons.
2-How will you get here?
It’s important to know how your potential employee is going to get to work.
If the answer is public transport ask them what time train or bus and establish how easy the journey is, if it’s by car find out what route for a similar reason.
Plenty of people have left a job because the journey became too difficult after a period of time.
3-What notice period are you under?
I find it best to ask this question early in the interview rather than at the end.
If you ask early on in the interview rather than at the end you have the information as part of the interview, if you ask at the end then it’s can be seen as an expression of interest.
4-What is your current or previous salary level and benefits package?
Now I know generally people take a cut in salary when they start a new position but I always like to know how much of a drop, if any, they’re taking or an increase they’re receiving.
I’m curious to know the motivation behind someone accepting a lower salary and look for a reason in line with point 1
5-Do you need a work permit to work in the UK?
This is generally covered as part of your HR procedures but if it isn’t then you need to ask the question and ask to take a copy of the appropriate documentation.
Once you have it, if you need to, you can contact the home office advice line to be sure of what you’re looking at.
Employing someone that doesn’t have the right to work in the UK can carry a hefty fine and tie you up in months of legal proceedings. Don’t risk it.
It’s also important to remember that only asking candidates that you believe may need a permit to work in the UK is discrimination. You have to ask everyone regardless.
6-Do you have a passport or a full birth certificate to confirm your identity?
In line with the point above it’s also important to confirm the person is who they say they are.
7-Why did you leave your previous company, and if appropriate the one before that.
Digging a bit deeper on why a candidate has left a position helps you to build a picture of what it is they’re looking for and the kind of environment that they’re likely to do well in.
Leaving a job is a big step for most people and in my experience they don’t do it lightly. If they left a position of their own accord they must feel strongly about the reason.
8-What is it that interests you about the role that you’ve applied for?
I’m always interested in the speed of the response to this question and the length of the answer.
The best candidates often have a good reason of why they’re interested in your position and it should ideally satisfy something on an emotional level. They like the challenge of the new role, the career opportunity, always wanted to work in this industry. I’m ideally looking for something they’re attracted to rather than a reason to get away from something.
9-What skills make you suitable for this role?
This is where I need to know where the candidate has done the same or similar role before. The more information the better if the answers are short and “well I’ve done it at most places I’ve worked at” I’ll ask for the most recent example and find out more about it.
If they’re being interviewed for a Manufacturing Engineers role what Products did they oversee the manufacturing of, how did they improve CNC programmes, what major problems did they face.
I’m cautious of people that dismiss my questions with short answers.
10-What personality traits make you suitable for this role?
Personality and culture fit are sometimes one of the most important components of the placement.
In order to know if your prospective candidate has the right personality and attitudes in line with your department or company, you first need to know what your departmental company culture is so take some time to think about that.
Asking the candidate the environment that they work best in, the management style that suits them, and the company culture that they’re looking to become a part of would hopefully help you hire the right person. It may take a little digging but everyone has hopes that their next company will be a place they feel at home at, and they’re working with people like themselves (just like you do).
After the interview
- Do give feedback as soon as possible – a simple yes or no is often adequate, people just want to know where they stand. I’m sure you would also, if you applied for a job.
- Ideally contact the candidate by phone to let them know – I bet you hated the dear john letters – I normally say something along the lines of – I wanted to call to let you know you were unsuccessful for the job of …………….. If we get any other positions in that you may be suitable for would you like us to contact you?
- If you had candidates that weren’t successful but were almost a match during the feedback phone call explain that they were just pipped by someone with a bit more experience, but as in all these cases there’s a probationary period in case either party finds they made a mistake, and in that event should it happen would the candidate be happy to be considered again for the role?
- Keep CVs of candidates for future vacancies