What are some of your weaknesses? I’m a perfectionist. What are some of your strengths? — I’m a team player. Great questions. Great answers. No. Not really. What if you took the time to ask your applicants questions that would actually spark their interest, make them think, and show you how they react to unusual questions? After all, this is the stage where you want to spend a little extra time to understand if they are a good fit for your company.
The questions you ask remote work candidates should be multi-faceted because more factors must be considered in the hiring process. It’s not enough to simply find a skilled employee whose values match your own; you also want someone who will grow with your company and be an asset over time. Asking candidates about their previous work experiences — what they liked, what they disliked, and how they grew in those situations — can shed light on how well they would fit into your company and whether or not they would excel there over time. Here we suggest five additional questions to ask your applicants to gauge their interests and skills even further.
1. If you could have any superpower, which one would you want?
This question will help you learn about your candidate’s interests and creativity. Maybe give them a choice to narrow it down. Fly or be invisible, and why? You want to know the why because they are telling you their thought process and the reasoning behind their answer.
“If I could have any superpower, I would want the ability to heal. It would give me the opportunity to visit different countries and do good for the community. After all, giving back is a form of self-care.”
2. If you could start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Your candidate is likely to say, “Not a thing.” Or they mention how they would actually show up on time to one of their previous jobs they really liked but were not in the right mindset then. Either way, again, you get to see an insight they are sharing with you.
“Not a thing. I feel confident about where I am now, and I am excited about what the future is to bring. I have enjoyed my ups and downs, and I would not want to change things that brought me where I am today. All these experiences have shaped me and prepared me to be here today.”
3. Are you a Coke or Pepsi fan?
When an insurance company asked this question for a Project Manager’s position, they answered, “Coke, please. And a bourbon chaser to go with it. Thanks. ;>)” Do you see what we mean? They are trying to be funny. They expose that they like bourbon. No, it is not a reason not to hire them, yet we don’t welcome sharing that information during an interview.
4. What is your communication style?
In this day and age, you want to know the answer to this question beforehand. Maybe you have a hybrid team — you want to ensure the applicant is a good fit for the team. This is a strategic approach to set your applicant up for success if and when you hire them. How happy will they be if you know their style and work with them accordingly?
“I try to be clear and direct with my communication approach. I am very personable, but if someone prefers a more formal communication style, I can easily adjust.”
5. How do you unwind after a stressful day at work?
The position you are hiring them for is remote. Sometimes, it becomes hectic and stressful. In an office setting, this is when you go home to unwind. However, working remotely this option requires much more creativity. Another way to get to know them is by asking this question to see if they have a plan for self-care and their mental well-being.
“I go for a little walk and take some time to reflect on my day.”
When job candidates are asked what their strengths and weaknesses are, many of them give canned, uninspiring responses. This doesn’t allow the interviewers to see how the candidate actually thinks or whether they have any transferable skills that would make them viable for your open position.
With the changes in the business world, the questions we ask our job candidates should also be changed. It is not a one size fits all model anymore, and we, the employers, have to do the research to understand the best questions to ask the candidates. We want to get to know them and understand if their values match ours, if their knowledge, skills, and abilities match what you are looking for, and how they going to contribute to the growth of your company. There needs to be a whole new take on the interview questions to assess for fit.
About HR Lab: In 2020, HR Lab was formed in response to the workforce's needs during the pandemic. We work to improve the HR system to be more relevant and effective for employers, workers, educators, and governments. Our goal is to create a labor market that values workforce credentials and provides opportunities for growth and development.
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