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Smart questions for job candidates

Map out interview in advance to extract best information

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Don’t leave much to chance when you host a job interview. By organizing when and how you ask questions, you ensure fair comparisons and give everyone an equal chance to stand out.

Use these pointers to structure your interviews:

Pick three big themes. Before the interview, meet with staffers to identify the three most important skills or qualities the top candidate should possess. Then devise questions that focus on them.

Seek details first. Start with “small picture” questions—the detail-oriented inquiries that force candidates to veer from their rehearsed answers and give concrete information.

Example: “Walk me through what you did at work the day before yesterday.” Only after a few specific questions should you move to the big picture. Example: “Can you tell me about a time you showed leadership?”

Ask twice. Near the end of the interview, repeat a question you asked earlier. Why? Some candidates will struggle to think of an entirely fresh answer, others will build on what they’ve already said, and the most confident will say, “Let me repeat the answer I gave before.”

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