Interesting interview questions to uncover what you really want to know about a candidate

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Interviews are by far the most effective way to make an accurate assessment of a candidate’s suitability for a role, but if you feel like you’re not quite getting what you need out of your hiring interviews, it might be time to give your interview questions a bit of a shakeup.
 
Here are a few of our interview question favourites that we’ve found to be very effective in helping dealerships find out what they really want to know about a candidate.

How would your previous colleagues describe working with you?

If you want to test a candidate’s perception of their interpersonal and management skills, this question is a great way to get a gauge on how they view themselves.
 
This question is particularly effective when asked as a series of related questions in the following order:

  1. How would your previous manager describe working with you?
  2. How would your previous subordinates describe working with you?
  3. How would your previous co-workers with the same rank as you describe working with you?
Structuring the question into three related questions is a great way to reveal any inconsistencies in the way they might treat their colleagues.
 
For example, if a candidate believes their previous manager would view them as positive, easy going, and adaptable, but then go on to describe how their subordinates would view them as a hard taskmaster that is very firm but fair, that could suggest that they might not offer the same level of respect to all their colleagues regardless of rank or title.

Are you a hunter or a gatherer?

If you’re hiring for a position that requires a certain type of person, this is a great way to get an idea of whether a candidate is well suited to a role.
 
While there is no right or wrong answer, a candidate’s response will provide an indication of where their natural personality and skillset lies and identify their strengths and weaknesses.
interestinginterviewquestions | Teamrecruit
Imagine you’re trying to fill a sales consultant role. You need someone that’s going to feel comfortable putting themselves out there, hustling to bring in more business and get the job done, so ideally you’d want someone that considers themselves as a ‘hunter’.
 
On the other hand, if you’re hiring for an analytical-based role such as an accountant or financial controller, a ‘gatherer’ might be better suited to the role as they’re more comfortable collecting, synthesising, analysing and interpreting data and information to make informed decisions and hypotheses.
 
On occasion, you may even find a candidate that says they’re a bit of both that can go on to describe how that might apply that to the position they’re being interviewed for.

After seeing the position description and speaking to us about the role, can you explain to us what the role involves?

While this may seem like a bit of an odd question to ask, you would be amazed how many people get this wrong.
 
Asking this question will test a few things:
 
  • how much attention they’ve paid during the interview
  • how interested and involved they were throughout the process
  • their expectations about the role
This is particularly valuable when hiring for service leadership or service management type roles which can vary significantly between dealerships even though they may share the same position title.
 
Imagine you’re interviewing for a service manager position and a candidate says they’re expecting to be in the workshop a lot, checking that technicians are doing the right thing, and ensuring operations run smoothly; when in reality, the role would involve a significant amount of customer contact, time on the road driving to meet clients, and lengthy phone consults.
 
Not only will this question reveal where a candidate’s head is at and what their expectations about the position are, but it provides an opportunity to offer greater clarity and transparency about the role and what their day-to-day will look like. It may also answer some questions the candidate had about the role but didn’t want to ask.

Tell me about something you struggled with early on in your career and how you overcame it

This question is a great way to evaluate a candidate’s self-awareness and emotional intelligence—traits which most employers now consider more valuable than a high intelligence quotient (IQ).
 
Every individual will face certain challenges throughout their career (or even at later stages in their career), so if a candidate is struggling to identify anything they can talk about, it’s likely that they might have difficulty communicating openly, honestly, and genuinely.
 
Self-awareness is also a critical trait to being able to identify and overcome obstacles; so if a candidate can’t pinpoint any challenges they’ve faced in the past, it should raise some red flags.

What single project or task would you consider to be your most significant career accomplishment to date?

This is an excellent way to get a candidate talking about some of the positives and achievements in their career and demonstrate their level of ownership for their success.
 
A great response will show that the candidate is confident in their work, yet still humble enough to acknowledge the contributions and support provided by other team members.
 
It can also highlight if the candidate was more concerned about their own personal success or the interests of the dealership as a whole. A response which focuses purely on their individual contribution but fails to describe how it aligned with the objectives of the dealership could be an indication of an employee that is more concerned with personal accomplishments than organisational accomplishments.

Why are you interested in this role and what are your career aspirations?

This is a simple and often overlooked, but very effective question.
 
It’s a great way to catch out candidates that haven’t done their research. If a candidate responds with something like “I saw the role advertised and I want this sort of job so I applied”, it shows a lack of genuine interest in the role or company.
 
Alternatively, if a candidate responds with something like “I’ve always wanted to work within a construction equipment dealership and when I realised you were only 10 minutes from my home, work with a particular brand I love and were the right sized dealership for where I see myself, I thought it would be a perfect fit”, it shows that the candidate has researched the dealership and has a genuine interest in working there.
 
While it’s basic, it does help tick a lot of boxes if they can answer it correctly.
 
It will also give you an understanding of the roadmap they’re hoping for over the next couple of years and help you gauge if your dealership will be able to accommodate the candidate’s longer term career aspirations. For example, if you’re a small regional agricultural dealer with only a handful of long-term employees and you have a candidate that’s expressing interest in moving into a senior management role in a rapidly growing business, it might not be a great fit.

Preparing for hiring interviews

When structuring your hiring interviews, the most important thing is to remember to be consistent between each interview by asking each candidate the same questions to ensure you’re fairly and correctly appraising every candidate.
 
Ideally you want your questions to not only gain insights into a candidate’s skills and experience, but also their level of emotional intelligence as this is an important indicator of how well an employee will likely handle a range of workplace scenarios.
 
If you’re still using the same set of interview questions you’ve been using for the last decade, it’s also probably time for a refresh to scrap those objective ‘black and white’ questions in preference of questions that will tell you a lot about a candidate’s self-awareness and reasoning skillset.
 
Teamrecruit is Australia’s most established recruitment agency specialising in truck, earthmoving and agricultural machinery dealerships in Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Southeast Asia. Find out more about Teamrecruit and how we support employers and candidates in the dealership industry.

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