When you interview a job candidate, don’t waste time with openers like “Tell me about yourself” or questions that can be answered by looking at the applicant’s resume. Ask questions that will help you see the person behind the resume and reveal the candidate’s personality, strengths, weaknesses, knowledge, skills and abilities.

Here are seven questions that will work across a variety of industries and job descriptions:

1. Tell me how you feel you’d make a contribution to this company?

These days, you can assume that job candidates have access to the Internet and will have done research on the company, possibly the job and maybe even some of your employees or new projects. If they haven’t, their response will be generic, and you’ll know they didn’t take the time to do their homework. You want the candidate who is well prepared.

2. Why should we hire you?

It may sound harsh—so mind your tone—but this question works well because it asks the candidates to define what sets them apart from the competition. The

interviewee who can explain how her unique experience, education, industry credentials, and personal interests will help your business should go to the top of your applicant pile.

3. If you could start your career over again, what would you do differently?

Hopefully the candidate will not use this as an excuse to complain and lay blame. The purpose of this question is to see if a candidate can explain the major decisions he’s made, highlighting the positive and negative, and share his vision for the future and his ambitions.

4. If I called your last or current boss and asked where your work needs the most improvement, what would I hear?

The candidate has to be as honest as possible, because once the supervisor is brought into the conversation, she knows the truth will come out anyway. This is a more unexpected, and better, way to phrase as “what is your biggest weakness?”

5. Describe the best boss you ever reported to.

The answer to this question will tell you a lot about past professional relationships. It will highlight the personality and work types the applicant works with best, which will give you great insights into the candidate’s communication skills, work style and potential cultural fit.

6. Where do you see yourself in five years?

This question may be clichéd, but what’s important is how the candidate answers, not what she says. You want to see someone show enthusiasm at the thought of the future, someone who knows where they want to go and has the ambition to get there.

7. Do you have any questions for me? – This is the perfect way to end an interview, by turning the tables and seeing how the candidate reacts. If they ask thoughtful questions, great. If they answer “no”—then you probably don’t want to hire them.

Any more questions about how to give a great interview? Call the expert recruiting team at Staffers, and we’d be happy to discuss it with you!

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