I am frequently asked by small business owners who can’t afford to pay a recruiter’s fee, but need a hand finding talent, what they should be asking during an interview. Obviously, they want to ensure they don’t ask anything that will land them in prison, but I love that they want to ensure they ask interesting enough questions that they can determine whether the candidates will be a good culture fit in their organisation.

I am excited that the days of hosting a ‘templated’ interview in which a hiring manager walks into the room with a checklist on a clipboard are over. Wasn’t that a waste of everyone’s time and energy! What a relief that people who are expanding their teams are keen to get a bit creative so they can find out more about a person than what their strengths and weaknesses are (spoiler alert – that is the worst question ever!!)

On the flipside, I also get asked by every candidate that I coach through the interview process what questions they should prepare to be asked. The list I give them is exactly the same as the one I share with their potential employers.
I believe that any interview should be a conversation. Sure, people (on both sides of the table) will be nervous, but everyone there wants to find out if this working arrangement would be beneficial to both parties.
Employers don’t want to interview a person who is on their best behaviour and just doing a sell job; they want to learn how a candidate is going to perform day to day, how they will add value to their team, and get to know the person they will be spending a good chunk of their life with.

The candidate doesn’t want to be tricked into giving an incorrect answer, or have to spend an hour or so answering difficult behavioural scenarios about a time when they exhibited a random behaviour in the workplace.

Interviews should be mature, flexible conversations that adapt and flow to the topics that come up. Sure, it is great to have a rough plan, but there is no need for perfect questions and answers. Interviews are not pass or fail examinations, nor should they be multiple choice quizzes. The aim of the game is to ensure there is a strong connection, mutual respect, the ability to learn and grow in a role, and a common vision.

When preparing for an interview, it is great to just run through this list and answer the question in your head while you are doing the washing up or casually over a cuppa.

I guarantee that if you just run through these informally a few times a day or two prior to the interview, you will be more prepared than everyone else.

Here is the list of top 10 questions.
– What are some of your greatest achievements? How do they relate to what you will bring to this company?
– What is it about this company / firm that makes you want to work with us?
– If you imagine yourself in 3 years from now, what skills and qualifications do you hope to have learnt?
– Among the people you have worked with, who do you most admire and why?
– What are you really, really good at, but never want to do anymore?
– What do you believe is the difference between someone who is good in your role versus someone who is outstanding?
– What do you believe you can achieve with us that you couldn’t with another firm / company?
– Tell us about a time when you strongly disagreed with your manager? What did you do and what ultimately happened?
– What is one piece of critical or poor feedback you have received and how did you handle it? What did you learn about yourself?
– When is the last time you learnt something new? Think a new sport, a new system, a game or an instrument? How long did you stick with it and how did the experience make you feel?

Right, now go and nail that interview! Let me know how you go [email protected]. Remember, they are lucky to have you. Never forget, the best thing about you in this interview is, you!!!

Meg Salter
Co-Founder & Co-CEO
[email protected]
Linkedin: @meg-salter
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