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Dig Deeper with Four Interview Follow-up Questions

By: Margaret Hansen

Employer Bright Spots

Dig Deeper with Four Interview Follow-up Questions

Perhaps this sounds familiar... you've interviewed a charismatic person whom you really enjoyed talking with. He made it easy to interview him. He listened and smoothly told you what you wanted to hear. He answered every question quickly and often steered the conversation back to his strengths.

Terrific! But, is he right for the job?

A confident job candidate can be skilled at interviewing. Maybe they truly are the right performer who would excel in the position and make a wonderful addition to your team. Or, maybe they're just really good at acting.

Get to the root of what the candidate is saying and dig deeper by asking these four pairs of interview questions and follow-ups:

Follow-up: What does your employer owe you?

This question pair will give you some insight into the candidate's work ethic and attitude. "Everything" is not an honest answer. A cliché such as "a good day's pay for a hard day's work" is okay, but the best answers will be well thought out. Thoughtful candidates will not want to sound too stingy or too insincere and will aim for a reasonable, middle-of-the-road answer. Bonus: As candidates tell you what they expect from you, the employer, you'll glean some useful feedback that you can tuck into your recruiting toolkit.

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

Because you wouldn't want to be a temporary pit stop on someone's way to something else, hearing long-term and short-term goals are important. Does the job at hand tie into those goals and how? If there is no logical correlation, how long will this person last before they leave for a better job that fits into their plans?

Follow-up: Mind if I call that person?

Can you say "teamwork"? How well does this person get along with other people at work? This will likely tell you. There is no right or wrong answer. You aren't really going to call their former co-worker, but note their body language when they answer the follow up. If they squirm and stumble and get really nervous, their answer is probably - at least partially - fabricated. Or maybe they worked with a really difficult person and don't want to come across as too negative. Dig a little deeper. If the latter is true, find out if they dealt with it constructively.

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

Skill-specific questions let you know if a candidate can perform a job. One quick way to find out if they're being truthful is to ask for specific examples of when they used that particular skill set. Descriptive, solid examples that the candidate can speak at length about will show that they are likely ready for the job.

Remember, answering "yes" or "no" is easy. Providing back up, details and examples to those answers is not so easy. Be sure to probe with interview questions that go beyond the basics and really get to the heart of what the job requires. Look past the charm and let your questions work for you.

Margaret Hansen has been writing professionally since receiving a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Maine. She has worked for multiple organizations as a weekly newspaper reporter, a weekly newspaper editor, and in a variety of internal/external marketing communications roles. Her freelance career has focused on writing and editing for print, email and web publications in the employment industry, as well as manuscript editing and resume writing.