Five Unique Do-Good Questions Employers Need to Ask in Job Interviews (+ insights from expert recruiters!)
By Anissa Ljanta
With all the effort that goes into recruitment and then induction, you really want the best hire for your investment. Someone who can do the job brilliantly, be a good fit with organisational culture and help your team smash some goals.
One person in a team or leadership position can make or break a project or organisation. Asking the right questions in your interview is vital in digging deeper into your potential hire’s work history and capabilities.
We’ve done the work for you and have been on a quest for tried and tested, effective and insightful interview questions. We also reached out to Do Good recruiters and asked them to share their favourite interview questions too.
Here are our top FIVE interview questions:
1. Who has been a mentor or role model for you and why?
2. What gets you up in the morning?
3. Tell me about a success you were part of, and what your role was in achieving it.
4. What is your superpower and what is your kryptonite? (a more creative way of asking for strengths and weaknesses)
5. Walk me through a difficult decision you made. What was your process and how did you arrive at your decision?
You’re looking for questions that give you insight beyond the facts on the person’s CV, questions that are interesting, reveal how they cope with stress, how they communicate and whether they’d be a good fit for your team. The ‘right’ questions will be different for every organisation and role.
Insights from Experts
We also asked some experts to share their insights.
Kaye Curran, Business Manager at Garden to Table
Kaye is currently deep in a recruitment round for Regional Coordinators for Garden to Table’s food education programme. They’re hiring for a remote high performing team and bringing the right people on board is vital. Kaye shares her two favourite interview questions and why they’re effective.
• Tell us something about you that would surprise us.
Kaye says, ‘I like that question because if ask reasonably early in the interview process it breaks the formality of the interview (most people laugh or smile when you ask the question) also it gives an insight into the personality of the candidate.’
• If you could do anything in the world, what would you do?
‘It’s always interesting to see how a candidate answers this one, as it is deliberately open to interpretation, and indicates what focus they have on the question – do they answer applying the question to work, travel, helping others? Another great way of obtaining more information about the candidate themselves that you might not get with standard interview questions.’
Richard Green, Executive Director of He Waka Eke Noa Trust
Advertisements for the new season of He Waka Eke Noa Trust’s Ugly Shakespeare Company troupe are rolling out on social media. I asked Executive Director Richard Green what interview questions he asks to find the best people. Richard has been recruiting for this organisation for 25 years. He shares the questions that elicit responses that help him discern who will shine in the role AND cope with life on the road:
- What can you bring to the kaupapa that is unique?
- How do you manage conflict?
- If you are being hosted for the night by a stakeholder and their partner makes a racist/sexist/bigoted comment at the dinner table- how do you react?
I really like that this last question communicates strongly about the organisation’s culture as well as requesting insight into the applicant’s potential response.
It’s illegal to ask certain questions.
If that sentence set off alarm bells or got your heart racing, you have some reading up to do! Let this be an alert to those new to recruiting – or as a reminder to those who have been at it awhile – make sure you’re all over what interview questions are legal. In general, questions about age, health, relationships, religion, homelife, political views, ethnic origins, sexual orientation or gender identity are in the illegal basket. Stay clear!
And stay well away from questions about current workplace situations and systems – as tempting as it may be.
Flipping the script – or, the ABC of doing it differently.
A. Don’t be afraid to go off-piste from your planned questions, following your intuition to ask for clarification – more detail is often a good thing.
B. Also, be sure to leave time for the interviewee to ask questions. Get suspicious if they don’t have any, it could mean they haven’t done their research or put much thought into the role.
C. If you’re a board member recruiting a key role, especially a leadership position, consult with your operations people. They’re the ones on the frontlines who will have to work with your hire. Ask them to put forward interview questions, and ideally, have the team nominate one person to be on the recruitment panel with you. This is especially recommended if the board are from corporate or government background (which is often!).
Asking good interview questions can be the difference between a lack lustre interview that doesn’t get beyond the surface versus the buzz of a lively connection between people that gives a sense of the true character and working style of a job applicant. On a selfish note, asking some awesome questions makes it more interesting for the interviewer/s too.
Asking just the standard questions is a missed opportunity. Don’t be that person!
About Anissa Ljanta
Anissa is an online content and comms specialist with a long history in the not-for-profit sector both here in NZ and internationally. She is on the board of her small local community library, is part of a delightful book club, several writers’ groups, and her idea of a fun Saturday night involves writing and wine. Words, social change and deep ecology are at the centre of her life.
Anissa can be found (and hired for word geekery) at www.anissaljanta.co.nz