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Recruiting & Hiring Employee Experience

5 Best Screening Questions to Ask Candidates

September 28, 2015
5 min read
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Performance Management, Supercharged


Screening candidates will never go out of style, but doing it via the phone or in-person… will. With video interviewing, a series of predetermined questions can be asked of each applicant to help make better decisions of who to invite to the next round. If you’ve already adopted video interviewing into your candidate screening process, congrats! If not, make sure to check out our offer for 2 months free of video interviewing. Either way, here are some of the best questions to ask:

“What kinds of things do you like doing outside of work?"

This might sound like a question you’d use to buy time until you can muster a more substantial one, but trust us; it’s important to know what kind of things your employees like to do outside the office. Their hobbies may sound boring to you, but there’s a good case for why you should know this side of your candidates. Employees with hobbies tend to be happier, which leads to a 31% more productive workplace. Even better, these hobbies can reveal other skills that could be relevant in the workplace. Does one of your marketing candidates like to draw? That could be useful down the road when you need a graphic designer.

CC-Click-ToTweetBird-01 Should you ask candidates what their hobbies are outside of work... yes or no?


“What made you want this job?"

If we’re more productive when we’re happy (see above), it’s all the more important for you to make sure your candidates actually want to work for you when you’re interviewing them. The candidate you’re interviewing may have all the qualifications, but are they actually interested in doing that work, or do they just want to collect a paycheck? Ask them why they’re so interested in a job at your company, and watch how they say their answer. If they don’t look too passionate, it might be best to let the candidate go before their lack of motivation makes them a difficult employee.

Download our Manager's Guide to Giving Effective Performance Feedback! 

“What career accomplishment are you most proud of?"

There are lots of ways to gain further insight into a candidate’s work experience. You can ask their former bosses, have them talk about what it was like working somewhere else, or ask them about the kinds of things they’ve done before. But if you really want to get a sense of how someone measures up, ask them what single task they’re most proud of. If it truly impresses you, then you know you have someone worth keeping (or a really good liar). If the thing they’re most proud of seems underwhelming by your standards, probe a little deeper to find out why they’re so proud of that accomplishment.

CC-Click-ToTweetBird-01 Asking candidates THIS question can really give a sense of how someone measures up.

“How do you like to work?"

Everyone works differently, but finding out how someone likes to work can be a bit difficult. The candidate might acquiesce and say “however you want me to.” The key to figuring out whether your employee fits within your work culture (whether it’s collaborative or more isolated) is to give them options instead making the question open ended. Do they like working with others or alone? Do you prefer juggling multiple things at once or tackling objectives one at a time? These differences are vital in determining cultural fit.

“How open are you to the idea of doing things outside your job description?"

It’s true the job descriptions aren’t always accurate. In fact, 41% of employees say their job description isn’t accurate because of the way their role expands over time. But instead of fearing that your descriptions won’t be accurate (though you should still try!), ask candidates if they’re willing to roll with the changing needs of their workplace. This makes you a more honest employer, acknowledging that duties can change along with titles. And if you confront it head on, employees won’t be so shocked when you suddenly decide the employee you hired with the art skills should do some design work. As long as the pay matches the duties, being more open about these sorts of things will make things easier for you and your candidates.

These 5 questions should ensure you have the most productive and insightful applicant screening session with your candidates. There will always be those common questions you need to ask, but there’s no reason screening candidates has to be boring. And when you ask better questions, you might just learn something about your candidate and your company.

Make your interviews more exciting than ever with video! ClearCompany is offering two months free of video interviewing so you can save valuable screening time and gain more insight into applicants before moving them through the hiring process.

Did you know Talent Success has the power to reshape business, and it all begins with your company mission and goals.The ClearCompany Talent Operating System is the only software that utilizes your organization’s mission, competencies and goals to hire, retain and engage more top talent; creating unparalleled levels of success. 

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