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Identifying the best applicants to hire for your organization is a high-stakes affair, as bad hires can take a massive toll on your company, including the costs to replace them.

Experienced hiring managers have a short set of top questions they use to rapidly determine what they have to know from a candidate; in regard to their abilities, job fit and potential cultural fit.

The following questions can help to streamline your interview process. These questions are based on the factors that matter most and quickly getting down to brass tacks makes for a very efficient interview process.

4 Interview Questions That Actually Matter

Can You Tell Me About a Time When You Had a Big Impact on Your Job or Company?

At the end of the day, you want to hire people who are going to make a significant positive impact on your company. People who are going to save or make your company more money.

A good way to gauge a candidate’s potential to have a positive impact is to ask about the type of impact they’ve had in the past. Of course, you should follow up on any claims that candidates make when you are conducting reference checks.

What was the Last Thing You Geeked Out About?

You might think that someone really getting into cooking Korean food or Australian football is a trivial detail in the context of a job interview, but really getting into something show interest and passion. Your company. Should want to hire people that pursue things with a passion because these folks are more likely to work harder and more creatively, if they can be properly engaged with their work.

What was a Difficult Goal You Set for Yourself and Did You Achieve It?

Because you’re trying to find an applicant who is driven and goal-oriented, this question will help you see if they’re capable of reaching the goals related to the position. Ask the applicant to take you step-by-step through their goal-setting process and why they set the goals they did.

A solid answer to this question indicates that they know what truly challenging goals are, and that they are used to putting in effort to reach ambitious goals. Pay attention to answers that detail a substantial objective and indicate why they found their goal particularly challenging. Don’t hold it against an applicant if they admit to coming up short, as this shows humility, confidence and self-awareness.

Sell Me on this Company

This is a more challenging way to ask applicants, “What do you know about our company?” because they have to be persuasive and be able to describe your company’s unique value proposition.

Note that someone with sales background will find this question easier than someone without that background. This is fine because the focus of this question should be on each candidate’s research and thought process in developing an answer.

Let Us Simplify Your Interview and Hiring Processes

At Cornerstone, we handle a lot of the heavy lifting on a hiring process for our clients, saving them time and resources. Please contact us today to find out how we can support your company’s talent acquisition processes.


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