Whether you call it talent acquisition, executive search, finding the right people, finding good humans or attracting talent, when push comes to shove, it’s all recruitment.

I’m sure I’m not alone in that I find it challenging to get excited about recruitment. There’s enormous pressure to find the right person for the right role, and often this is compounded by the fact that the people doing the recruitment are managers in the business, not trained recruiters. Or Talent Specialists. Or whatever the label-of-the-month is.

There are many approaches to conduct a strong interview to help you narrow down the candidate pool – skills-based interview questions, behavioural interview questions and STAR methodology, for example. Gut-feel and instinct can be strong influencers in making a hiring decision, but can trick us into ignoring key selection criteria or put us at risk of surrounding ourselves with people ‘just like me’.

However, for someone like me, who’s not a full-time recruiter, these are my favourite questions to ask in an interview – I find they shine a really strong light on a candidate’s values and motivations in a way that I can connect with.

Question 1: Why do you do what you do?

The importance of purpose isn’t new – what is important here is how the candidate unpacks the question. Do they immediately divert to the what? Or do they talk about an authentic connection with what they choose to do for work?

Reciting our company values that they have seen online doesn’t mean anything to me (well done for looking at the website).

I want to know what their purpose is. What drives them and motivates them?

How the candidate talks about their own ‘why’ will provide really great insights into how they approach their own brand, careers and their thought processes.

Question 2: Tell me about something going on in your profession or our industry that you think is interesting, exciting, fun, cool?

As a leader in a consulting firm, the most challenging part of the interview process for me is identifying which candidates have the ability to drive their own careers with an entrepreneurial mindset – and apply this mindset to what we do in the business.

People who just turn up, do what’s asked of them, and go home aren’t a great deal of use to a company that has ambition and wants to grow – let alone to clients who have invited a Consultant into their world.

I want to know who is personally invested in their industry. I want to see curiosity and ideas – I want to see thinking outside of their remit, not by equating success with a willingness to punch in some extra hours.

Question 3: Teach me about something you’ve seen, done, or read lately that you really connected with?

Another key characteristic I look for is the desire to have an impact on the world around you. Everyone can connect with the ‘what’s in it for me?’ – in the interview process, you want to find the diamonds who are also motivated to positively impact their colleagues, their organisation, industry and community. This question encourages some interesting answers and shows how people think.

Question 4: Walk me through one of the happiest moments in your life.

And finally, cutting through the BS of the interview environment to truly understand what is important and what makes our potential new hire… happy. Asking a personal question such as this also removes any professional barriers or facade the interviewee may be putting up. Important here – make sure you give a damn about their answer. The candidate is seeking to connect with us as leaders, just as much as we’re evaluating them. Ultimately, when you invite a person to join your company or team, you’re inviting them into your world. Getting an insight into the ‘person behind the professional’ is invaluable – after all, if things go well, you’ll probably be spending quite a long time together!

the 4 recruitment questions to ask

“I want to know what their purpose is. What drives them and motivates them?”

4 recruitment questions you must ask

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