Dig Deeper with Four Interview Follow-up Questions

Chances are you’ve interviewed a charismatic job candidate and really enjoyed the conversation. He was easy to interview, listened well and told you what you wanted to hear. Every question was well answered and the candidate often managed to direct the conversation back to his strengths.

Fantastic! But, is this the right candidate for the job?

Confident job candidates are often adept at interviewing. This candidate may truly be the right person to shine in the position and become the perfect addition to your team. On the other hand, he might just be a really good actor.

Utilize these four pairs of interview questions and follow-ups to help you dig deeper and get to the root of what the candidate is saying:

Follow-up: What does your employer owe you?

This question will provide you with some understanding of the candidate’s work ethic and attitude. “Everything” is not an honest answer. Thoughtful candidates will try to avoid appearing insincere by giving a reasonable, middle-of-the-road answer. While a cliché such as “a good day’s pay for a hard day’s work” is okay, the best answers will be well thought out. As a bonus, you can use feedback about what candidates expect from you, the employer, as a future recruiting tool.

Follow-up: How will this job help you meet those goals?

Inquiring about a candidate’s long- and short-term goals is key if you want to avoid being a temporary pit stop on his or her road to something else. How does this opening correlate with those goals? If there is no obvious connection, how long will this person stay with your company before departing for a job better suited to his or her goals?

Follow-up: Mind if I call that person?

Can you say “teamwork”? Does this candidate get along well with coworkers? This will likely give you the answer, despite there being no right or wrong answer. You know you aren’t really going to call their former co-worker, but they don’t. Observe the candidate’s body language when answering the follow up. Squirming and appearing very nervous is a clear sign that the answer is probably at least partially fabricated. Of course, there’s also the chance that the candidate had a really difficult coworker and is trying to avoid coming across as negative. If you are unsure, ask a few more questions. Find out if they dealt with the situation in a constructive manner.

Follow-up: Give me an example of a time when you used (this skill).

The best way to find out if a candidate is prepared for a job is by asking skill-specific questions. Asking for detailed examples of when they used that particular skill set will help you determine if they’re being honest. Speaking at length about descriptive, solid examples will show that the candidate is likely ready for the job.

Remember, it’s easy to answer “yes” or “no”, but giving back up, details and examples to those answers is not so easy. Be sure to get to the center of what the job requires by asking interview questions that go beyond the basics. Don’t be too taken in by a candidate’s charm, and let your questions dig out the truth.