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July 17, 2003
6 Interview Questions You Must Ask

In the not too distant past, you hired a candidate if they could fog up a mirror and their resume had buzzwords on it matching your job specs. Interviews had questions in it like, can you do this, and can you do that, and you only want a signing bonus of how much?

In today's economy there are usually more job candidates than there are jobs to fill. This makes your job easier to eliminate non-qualified or otherwise unsuitable candidates. Here are 6 must ask interview questions to help you weed out marginal candidates in your quest for the perfect hire.

  1. Where would you like your career to be in 2-3 years?
    Look for answers that demonstrate goal setting, and career planning. Also does the candidate's goals match those of the department or the company where they would be working? If the candidate's career goals won't fit into the company's future goals, chances are the candidate will realize that quickly and start looking for a new position at another company that matches his or her personal goals.

  2. Describe in detail the type of boss you'd like to work for then detail out the type of boss you'd least like to work for.
    At this point the candidate may be clueless as to what type of supervisor they will be working for. The question in your head is a simple one, do they or don't they match their future boss. If they do keep asking questions, if they don't start the interview closing questions.

  3. What about the activities in your current position do you enjoy most? Least?
    This is an indirect way of determining a candidate's strengths and weaknesses. Candidates typically like to do activities they are good at, and try and avoid activities they are marginal or weak at. If the job entails a lot of phone work, and the candidate loves to file probably not a good fit. Another good way to determine a candidate's weaknesses is to ask "What do you think you can improve on and why?"

  4. All new jobs come with difficulties, if you encounter any in this position what do you think they may be?
    Remembering that you are trying to weed out marginal candidates quickly, this is another question that reveals a candidate's area of weakness and / or a candidate's self-doubt about being able to accomplish the goals of this position or even have the skills to succeed in the position.

  5. Do you agree or disagree and why, with the statement "Everybody cheats on their taxes."
    There's a general consensus in society that everyone cheats on their taxes, even if only a little bit. This can be a really confusing question for a candidate as he or she is unsure if you want an answer like, "well sure, everybody does a little, myself included," or an answer like "absolutely not as I don't." What's interesting about this question is you can determine how much or how little a person "pushes the envelope." Another way of phrasing this question is to replace the word "taxes" with "expense report." Now you'll get some real interesting answers!

  6. If the company gave you $5000 to spend anyway you wanted during your first year of employment, what would you spend it on?
    This is a great question to determine some quick and creative thinking on the candidate's part. The answer you are looking for really is determined by the position the candidate is interviewing for. If it were a techie type, continuing education would be a good answer, a sales manager type, perhaps a contest for the account executives under his or her control.

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