In the hiring process, the art of asking questions is crucial for finding the right candidate for the job. But it’s not just about asking any questions, it’s about asking the right questions.
As a recruiter, it’s important to understand the job requirements and company culture, and to tailor the questions accordingly.
Here are some tips for asking effective questions in the hiring process
- Start with open-ended questions: Open-ended questions allow the candidate to share their experiences and perspectives, and provide the recruiter with a deeper understanding of the candidate. For example, instead of asking “Do you have experience in this field?” ask “Can you tell me about your experience in this field?”
- Ask behavioral questions: Behavioral questions ask the candidate to describe a situation or problem they faced in a previous job, and how they handled it. These questions provide insight into the candidate’s problem-solving skills and work style. For example, “Can you describe a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer, and how did you handle the situation?”
- Use the STAR method: The STAR method is a helpful framework for asking behavioral questions. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Ask the candidate to describe a specific situation or task, what actions they took to address it, and what the result was.
- Use hypothetical scenarios: Hypothetical scenarios can provide insight into how the candidate would handle a situation in the future. For example, “If you were faced with a tight deadline and unexpected obstacles, how would you approach the situation?”
- Follow up with clarifying questions: It’s important to follow up with clarifying questions to ensure that you fully understand the candidate’s response. For example, “Can you give me an example of what you mean by that?” or “Can you elaborate on how you handled that situation?”
- Evaluate soft skills: Soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving are just as important as technical skills. Ask questions that assess these skills, such as “Can you tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult team member, and how did you handle the situation?”
- Provide information about the company: In addition to asking questions, it’s important to provide information about the company, including the company culture, values, and expectations. This helps the candidate understand if they would be a good fit for the company.
Asking the right questions can create a powerful connection and unleash the wisdom of the person being asked. It’s an art that requires empathy, active listening, and the willingness to be vulnerable. In the words of Carl Rogers, “When someone really hears you without passing judgment on you, without taking responsibility for you, without trying to mold you, it feels damn good.” This quote highlights the importance of empathy and active listening in building meaningful connections with others.
In the final part of this article, we will explore the importance of asking questions in our personal and professional lives, and how it can lead to growth and fulfillment.
Here’s a guide on how to implement the art of asking questions in your talent acquisition team
Step 1: Understand the Importance of Asking Effective Questions
Asking the right questions is crucial for finding the right candidate for the job. It’s not just about asking any questions, it’s about asking the right questions that will help you gain insights into the candidate’s experiences and perspectives.
Effective questioning techniques can help you assess a candidate’s problem-solving skills, work style, and soft skills such as communication and teamwork. By asking the right questions, you can create a powerful connection and unleash the wisdom of the person being asked.
💡 Here are two ideas for an team activity:
- Success story competition: Host a competition among teams or departments to share the most compelling success story about how effective questioning techniques have led to better hiring decisions and improved company performance. Each team can submit their success story in writing or through a short video presentation, and a panel of judges can select the best story. The winning team can be recognized and rewarded for their efforts, and all submissions can be shared across internal and external communication channels to inspire others.
- Q&A panel discussion: Organize a Q&A panel discussion with senior leaders or HR professionals who have experienced the benefits of effective questioning techniques in their hiring processes. The panel can share their success stories and answer questions from employees about how they can improve their own questioning skills. This activity can be hosted through a company-wide meeting or through a virtual platform for remote employees to join.
Step 2: Provide Training on Effective Questioning Techniques
Provide training to your team on how to ask open-ended and non-judgmental questions that encourage conversation and reflection. This can help your team ask better questions during interviews and gain deeper insights into candidates’ experiences and perspectives.
Effective questioning techniques include asking behavioral interview questions that ask candidates to describe a situation or problem they faced in a previous job, and how they handled it. The STAR method is a helpful framework for asking behavioral questions. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Ask the candidate to describe a specific situation or task, what actions they took to address it, and what the result was.
You should also ask follow-up questions to clarify understanding and evaluate soft skills. Soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving are just as important as technical skills. Ask questions that assess these skills, such as “Can you tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult team member, and how did you handle the situation?”
Step 3: Encourage Active Listening
Encourage your team to actively listen to candidates and show empathy and understanding. This can help create a more positive candidate experience and foster stronger relationships with potential hires. Encourage employees to ask follow-up questions to clarify their understanding of what the candidate is saying.
Step 4: Provide Information about the Company Culture
In addition to asking questions, it’s important to provide information about the company culture, values, and expectations. This helps candidates understand if they would be a good fit for the company, and can help your team identify candidates who align with your company’s values and goals.
Step 5: Evaluate and Improve
Evaluate your team’s questioning techniques regularly and provide feedback to employees on their questioning techniques. Encourage them to continue to develop their skills and provide opportunities for meaningful conversations, such as regular team-building activities or one-on-one meetings.
Here are some actionable examples on how to evaluate your team’s questioning techniques:
- Observe team interactions: Regularly observe your team’s interactions with each other and with clients or customers. Take note of the types of questions they ask, such as if they are open-ended or closed-ended, if they encourage reflection and conversation, and if they demonstrate empathy and active listening.
- Use role-playing exercises: Role-playing exercises can be a helpful way to evaluate your team’s questioning techniques. Create scenarios that simulate real-life situations and ask your team members to practice asking questions that encourage conversation, reflection, and problem-solving.
- Provide feedback: Provide constructive feedback to employees on their questioning techniques. Be specific about what they did well and what they could improve on, and offer suggestions for how they can develop their skills. Encourage them to continue to practice their questioning techniques and provide support and resources to help them improve.
- Encourage self-evaluation: Encourage your team members to evaluate their own questioning techniques. Ask them to reflect on their interactions with others and consider if they could have asked better questions. Encourage them to seek feedback from others and to continue to develop their skills.
By implementing these strategies, you can help your talent acquisition team ask more effective questions during interviews, create a positive candidate experience, and identify candidates who align with your company’s culture and values.
Here are some resources you can use to continue learning about the art of asking questions:
- “Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People” by Bradford D. Smart
- “Who: The A Method for Hiring” by Geoff Smart and Randy Street
- “Hiring for Attitude: A Revolutionary Approach to Recruiting and Selecting People with Both Tremendous Skills and Superb Attitude” by Mark Murphy