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8 Interview Questions to Help You Uncover a Candidate’s True Character

As a Healthcare Recruiter, I look at resumes all day, every day! No two resumes are alike, which makes reading and interpreting resumes an art in its own. The resume is the first step in understanding whether a candidate is qualified for a position. Of course, there is more to hiring the right candidate than simply checking the boxes on education and experience. My clients often ask me how to better understand whether a candidate is a good fit beyond their resume.

How can you tell whether a person will fit in with your company culture as a long-term, quality employee?

To understand a candidate’s fit within your organization, the key is to leverage the job interview while maintaining a natural rhythm. This eases the interviewer and interviewee in and out of the conversation, while hitting 6 important characteristics you want to know before making an offer.

The best way to start a job interview with a candidate is by easing them into the process.

Tell me a little bit about yourself

The ability for the candidate to introduce himself / herself is expected, and will put the candidate’s response will give you insight as to what the candidate views as their strong or desirable characteristics as an employee.

What led you into your career field? (Grit)

Psychologist and author, Angela Duckworth, defines grit as “the tendency to sustain interest in an effort toward very long-term goals.” The amount of determination required for the candidate to make it to the seat in front of you will help you uncover whether they have grit.

Why did you leave (are you leaving) your last company? (Integrity)

Most interview questions don’t have a wrong or a right answer, but this one is an exception. If this is answered with resentment, blame, deflecting responsibility, or any other negative response, it should raise red flags. Even when circumstances are less than desirable, the ability to appreciate the positives and understand limitations without negativity show integrity.

What would your patients / coworkers / supervisors say they like the best about you? The least? (Self-Awareness)

Ask this question to get a clear idea of the candidate’s best and worst traits, as well as their own self-awareness. Can you rely on them under pressure or in an uncomfortable situation? Consider how their answers reflect self-motivation, timeliness, reliability, and egotism.

Tell me about a time when you’ve achieved professional success, but isn’t necessarily an experience you’d care to repeat. (Determination)

Maintaining motivation even during challenging experiences is pivotal to success on an individual and corporate level. Asking the candidate to walk you through a difficult experience that reaped great rewards, will shed light on the type of work environment most suited to their goals. This is beneficial in a few ways.

First, you will uncover a candidate’s likelihood to persevere through the inevitable ups and downs of any business. Secondly, it will give you a chance to better understand the work environment in which the candidate would or would not be a fit.

Describe to me a scenario when you needed to explain something complicated to someone with little or no knowledge of the topic. (Communication Skills)

This question will not only help you understand whether a candidate can break down complex concepts, but will also give you insight as to what the candidate actually considers complicated.

Additionally, listening to the actual scenario in which the candidate needed to perform this task will help you understand how observant the candidate is of others and their communication style when needing to dive deeper into a subject for someone less knowledgeable. Listen for any tones of condescension or exasperation at having to provide the explanation.

Tell me something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on. (Adaptability)

This is PayPal Founder, Peter Thiel’s favorite interview question to ask. Sure, you can go with a more standard question to gauge adaptability, but asking this question allows you to witness their adaptability firsthand. By throwing the interviewee a curveball, you catch a glimpse into their ability to think on their feet and go with the flow. What is their response? Notice if they are rigid, uncomfortable and awkward or if they embrace the change of pace and rise the challenge.

What are some of your hobbies or interests outside of work?

Imagine the interview is going well and in the back of your mind you are already writing their offer letter. Is there anything you can do to seal the deal before the offer is even extended? “The Serial Position Effect” can help. This effect is the tendency of a person to remember the first and last item in a series as the best. Ask the candidate something that will spur on a fun, brief conversation, allowing them to talk more about themselves and build rapport.

Use These Interview Questions to Make Better, More Informed Hiring Decisions

While some of these questions are tried-and-true, they have stood the test of time for a reason. Setting up your interview the right way will help you maintain the rhythm that keeps the job candidate at ease, while providing you deeper insights as to their true character and long-term fit for your company.

Need hiring help? Reach out to your TalentCare Success Manager with any questions, or for more interviewing and hiring tips, follow us on LinkedIn!

Works Cited

Cultivatedculture. “5 Questions To Ask In An Interview (Based On Psychology).” Cultivated Culture. N.p., 14 Jan. 2017. Web. 26 June 2017.

Kolowich, Lindsay. “15 of the Best Job Interview Questions to Ask Candidates (And What to Look for in Their Answers).” HubSpot. N.p., 2014. Web. 26 June 2017.

Tomasulo, Dan. “Grit: What Is It and Do You Have It?” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 08 Jan. 2014. Web. 27 June 2017.

“Serial position effect.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 06 June 2017. Web. 26 June 2017.

Smykal, Emily. “7 Qualities Of A Good Employee and Candidate (According to Research).” Jibe. N.p., 05 Jan. 2016. Web. 26 June 2017.