“If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?”

If you have ever been asked that question in a job interview, you were an unfortunate victim of bad-interview-itis. If you are the hiring manager who uses that question, you are a carrier of the disease. It is time to get appropriate treatment to cure yourself now, for the sake of your talent management strategies.

The Evolution of the Interview Question

Admittedly, talent management went through a rough patch in the 1980s and 1990s, when asking odd questions and trying to divine the hidden meaning behind the answers applicants struggled to string together was the norm.

But what talent management specialists found was that those types of questions were not very good at predicting a potential hire’s worth to the organization. So, today’s hiring managers need to put more thought into the right questions to ask, rather than into trying to figure out what the answers to the wrong questions may actually mean.

Here, then, is a list of good questions to ask an interviewee if you want to get to the bottom of what makes the candidate really tick, as suggested by Hubspot and Eremedia.

May we contact your previous employer?

This one may be old, but it has staying power for a reason. A positive answer here will tell you a lot about how your candidate responds to authority. Even if the answer is negative, it tells you something about the openness of the candidate.

In five minutes, can you explain to me something that is complicated, but that you know well?

The answer to this question tells you much about your candidate’s ability to communicate difficult concepts, his or her level of comfort and enthusiasm for a subject, and the level of passion the candidate has for something of interest to him or her personally. It is also a great way to see how conscious of timing your candidate is.

What workplace culture suits your approach best?

Cultural fit is extremely important in the hiring decision. True talent management is about putting the right people in the right positions at the right time. If your candidate expresses a preference for working independently and your available position is for a strong team member, the answer here may be the difference between hiring someone who works well with others and hiring a maverick for the job.

Template: Creating Ideal Candidate Personas – Our free persona template will help you improve your talent acquisition by identifying who your ideal candidates are and how best to reach them.

What is the one thing you can do better than anybody else?

The answer to this question lets you know how self-aware your candidate is, and how comfortable he or she is with self-analysis. Top candidates will likely take this question as an opportunity to let you know exactly what special skill they can bring to the table. A candidate who can answer this question confidently without sounding boorish is likely a keeper.

Who is the smartest person you know? Why?

The answer to this question gives you a window into the mind and heart of your candidate. A candidate will likely name qualities that he or she values most. For instance, if candidates identify the smartest person they know as being someone who plans ahead, makes wise decisions, deliberates carefully, and so on, it is safe to assume that the candidate aspires to or possesses these same qualities.

The Takeaway

Talent management professionals and hiring managers know that the interview process is ground-zero for both finding the right candidates and eliminating the ones who would be a poor fit. Therefore, it is important to put much thought into the interview questions you will ask. The more insightful your questions are, the better able your candidates will be to give you insightful answers in return.

There is so much more to talent management than simply conducting an effective interview, however. To discuss ways to improve your talent management process from beginning to end, contact us today.