Ask Better Questions, Hire Better Employees

Tell me about yourself - the classic interview opener. While it’s not a bad question, it doesn’t really set the tone or lead to a fruitful interview either.

If you’ve ever left an interview thinking, I like them, but can they genuinely handle the responsibilities of this position? It's often caused by asking ineffective questions.

As recruitment experts, who have prepped 100s of interviewers throughout our 20 years in business, we’ve heard it all when it comes to interview questions.

So we asked our team what are some of the questions hiring managers often ask and how can they level up their questions to walk away with a better understanding of who the candidate is and what they can deliver.

Here is what our team had to say.

1. Instead of Asking: What do you know about us?

Ask: What have you learned that has piqued your interest in our company?

Reason: This is an easy way to find out if the candidate has done any/enough research about the role and company without getting a boring regurgitation of your about us section from the candidate.

Their answer should cover more than just surface research and opens the door to “I don't have this in my current role” type answers that you can subsequently turn into selling features about the role and company.


2. Instead of Asking: Why are you looking to make a move from your current company?

Ask: What aspects of the role made you the most interested?

Reason: The first question puts candidates in a defensive posture. Most candidates we work with are happy in their current role/company but open to a new opportunity and challenge.

The second question focuses on what the candidate has learned during their research and the interviews thus far. Their responses focus less on what they are potentially running away from (which many won’t share anyway) and more on what challenges they are looking to solve in the future. This question leads to a more open-ended and positive discussion around future goals.

3. Instead of Asking: Where do you want to be in 5 years?

Ask: You've had quite the progression in your career so far. What career direction do you see yourself heading, and what are you doing to position yourself to get there?

Reason: You'll get insight into how much thought the person gives to their career and how strategic they are. It can also provide you with insight into how realistic they are in their aspirations.

4. Instead of Asking: Do you have any experience working in the proptech/fintech/healthtech space? (looking for exact category experiences)

Ask: Tell me how you would approach getting ramped up in our industry and what you would need from us?

Reason: Product Managers are some of the brightest minds a company will hire - they are the center of the Venn diagram - able to move between sales/marketing/tech at a level others in a company struggle to do. That is why most Product Managers are excited by opportunities that enable them to work on new problems and challenge themselves.

Asking questions that suggest the hiring manager is looking for someone with market knowledge means the hiring manager is not open-minded and not looking to pull from the best talent. By asking the question we recommend, the hiring manager will continue to glean how the candidate thinks and their approach to learning and adding value.

5. Instead of Asking: What is your greatest asset / biggest strength?

Ask: Tell me about a time you succeeded at something and what you learned about yourself along the way to success.

Reason: This provides insight into how they approach a challenge and the process they took to get there. It is also vague enough to see what a candidate unconsciously deems as their biggest win, strength or area of expertise.

6. Instead of Asking: What is your greatest weakness?

Ask: If you come across situation X, what process would you take to resolve the issue? What areas of personal development would best assist you in managing the situation?

Reason: While this first question is asked often, it’s probably the most disingenuous one for responses. It triggers a response from the candidate that they must come up with a response that uses a weakness of theirs as a benefit for the company - as opposed to showcasing an accurate self-analysis on what they can work on.

Interviewing effectively is all about asking the right questions to determine whether or not this candidate has the skill set and mindset needed to achieve the outcomes you’re looking for.

If you’re stuck in a never-ending hiring cycle, learn how to change your interview style to get your hiring outcome.

Hiring a Product Manager? Hear from leaders in the product space on how they structure their interviews and what they ask all their future Product manager hires.