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9 Rules For Creating Interview Questions That Work

prepare Barton Professional Placement Group advises companies, hiring managers and human resources professionals on a number of topics.

One common topic is interviewing.

Almost always, the discussion with clients around interviewing best practices leads to a deeper discussion around planning and preparation. This usually boils down to these 9 rules for creating interview questions that work.

At the core of effective interviewing is the development of effective questions that uncover the information required of a candidate to evaluate their fit for a particular job.

This takes time, effort, and planning. And, above all, effective interview questions.

We have developed these 9 rules to follow that help recruiters and interviewers create great interview questions.

  1. Start early. Develop your questions ahead of time providing enough time to review and edit prior to your interview.
  2. Questions are a framework. It’s not a test, questions are a framework that spark a dialog between the interviewer and the candidate.
  3. Keep them short. Studies have shown candidates can focus on their answer if the question is shorter than 15 words. You want them to reveal information – not interpret long questions.
  4. Prioritize critical questions. Ask the questions that you must have answers first, and if lower priority questions become unnecessary, skip them.
  5. Use common starting phrases. Get your candidate talking by using common question start points (see list below).
  6. Ask an expert. Have your interview questions reviewed by an expert that understands, or has performed the role before.
  7. Always open-ended. Never ask a question with a “yes” or “no” answer when trying to learn how a candidate thinks, weighs options or makes choices in example situations.
  8. Balance focus. Ask a mix of questions to assess skills and behaviors. Skills can be learned, but behavior conducive to learning is required.
  9. Frame the environment. Assess fit by framing questions around the workplace environment, including the management style of the hiring manager.

In rule 5 above, we mention common starting phrases for open ended questions. These you have heard before. They are:

  • Tell me about a time when…
  • Describe the results achieved from…
  • Help me understand…
  • What do you think…
  • Give me an example of…
  • How did you…
  • What was your role in…

To be clear and unlike some recruiters, we don’t just match up keywords from your job description to key words on a candidate’s resume.

We take the time to engage with prospective candidates in order to screen only the best to move on to the next step. We qualify them by digging deeper and identifying how well the candidate’s skills, behavior and interaction style fit the role and the employer’s company culture.

Barton Professional Placement Group’s recruiters spend significant time developing qualifying questions to evaluate candidates. It’s a key element of the value that makes up the comprehensive search process we provide our clients.

If you are ready to experience Barton Professional Placement Group’s comprehensive search services, we’re ready to talk with you. Call us today.