The Most Revealing Questions to Ask Candidates

For Employers


Wouldn’t it be great if, as an employer or hiring manager, you had a “sixth sense” and could know right away if you were hiring the perfect employee? Unfortunately, most of us don’t have that kind of vision and depend on a resume and interview to make our decisions. Those hiring want to be assured that the candidate not only possesses adequate experience and the position’s requisite skills, but also that the candidate will be a good fit for the company culture, ready to tackle new challenges and hopefully, be a long-term positive addition to the team.

Bristol asked Senior Vice President Kelly Nelson, who’s been with Bristol for over 22 years, for his advice on the best interview questions. Probing questions and edifying answers should help employers make the best hire.

Here are Kelly’s questions – and what the answers may reveal:

Q: What is your reason or motivation for leaving your current or most recent position?
A: People change jobs for a variety of reasons…some more positive than others. As an employer, you’re looking for honesty and a realistic explanation of why the job was not a good fit. The response should be weighed along with the amount of time spent in preceding jobs. The hiring manager may also want to address the same issue with previous jobs.

Q: Please describe your usual workweek.
A: The answer can tell you if your candidate is a self-starter or prefers teamwork. You may be able to assess a candidate’s priorities by determining how much time is allotted to certain tasks. By inference, the response can also indicate what the candidate does not like to do.

Q: How would you describe your management style?
A: Management style – or the candidate’s ability to express him or herself regarding management skills, allows the recruiter to attempt to determine a cultural fit.

Q: How do your qualifications fit the job description?
A: It is important to hear from the candidate why he or she feels their background would be a fit. Sometimes, resumes do not highlight prior relevant experience. The answer should also let the recruiter know if a candidate has done his or her homework about the company.

Q: Please describe direct experience relevant to assuring excellent customer service.
A: The candidate’s response could indicate their appreciation of excellent customer service and perhaps how they personally undertook an action to improve customer interaction and service.

Q: Please provide details of your current or most recent compensation plan including base salary and bonus percentage.
A: Some candidates may choose to reveal exactly what their compensation has been; others may focus more on what they’d like compensation to be. Either response can reveal how they value themselves and, of course, if their financial expectations fit with your company’s compensation budget.

Additional questions can be incorporated into the interview. These may include particular concerns of the employer as they relate to specific expertise, certifications, credentials, educational degrees, etc.

No interview is perfect but crafting questions that, when answered, give the employer a realistic idea of the candidate’s positive – and perhaps negative – attributes may enhance the long-term success of that hire.

Bristol Associates, Inc. is an executive search firm with over 50 years of excellence in recruiting nationwide. Bristol specializes in recruiting for the Casino Gaming; Hotels and Resorts; Travel, Tourism, and Attractions; Facilities and Concessions; Food and Beverage Manufacturing; Restaurant; Hospital and Healthcare; and Nonprofit industries.

If you’re interested in working with Bristol Associates, click here if you’re an employer or here if you’re a candidate.

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