Thankfully, there are a few simple questions you can use in just about every interview to gauge if a potential recruit is a good fit for your organization:
“Tell me about your favorite manager.” This question goes to the heart of which personality traits the candidate admires in a manager. It’ll tell you what traits they value, and therefore what traits they want to emulate. You definitely want to ask this question if you expect this person to take on managerial responsibility. You want to know that the person guiding and mentoring your more junior employees is up to snuff.
“Tell me about your least favorite manager.” The opposite of the “favorite manager” question, it tells you what traits this person doesn’t like to see in the workplace. If the traits that make her list are the traits you never want to see, then you know you’ve found a personality alignment.
“Tell me about your ideal work environment.” Are you an established business that values a set process? Or, are you a young start-up that needs to pivot at will? Understanding your candidate’s ideal work environment will cue you in to whether he or she will adapt quickly and easily to your unique environment.
“Describe your ideal work day.” Do you need someone that can juggle lots of projects, or wants to look at the same spreadsheet all day long? Do you need someone that can regularly work 60 hours a week, or are you hiring a 9 to 5er? How your candidate describes her ideal day will let you know if what she’s looking for matches what you want to foster in your environment.
“Tell me what you like to do for fun.” If the answer is something akin to “Oh, I don’t have hobbies, I just like to work,” you’ll know you have a crazy workaholic on your hands. If that’s what you desperately need, then you have your match. But if you’re looking for a more well rounded individual, it might be time to keep looking.
“If I called up your last boss, how would she describe you?” Candidates are remarkably honest when this question is asked. They’ll tell you all the good things about themselves, but they’ll likely also mention the one negative thing written on their last performance review. That one thing might be insignificant, or it might be a deal breaker.
Tailor your questions based on candidate seniority; some are better or worse for junior vs. senior candidates. Regardless, you’ll find that asking some, if not all, of these questions will help you assess if this is the kind of person you want in your workplace. And, if this is the kind of person that can help create the organizational culture you want to foster.