The purpose of the job interview is to determine whether the candidate is suitable for the role. But a job interview is an artificial situation. It’s difficult to get a sense of how your candidate will function on the job from their answers to a handful of questions. Knowing this, interviewers tend to fall back on a handful of tried-and-true queries about the candidate’s career history and working style. And that’s where the trouble starts.
Most candidates know that having the necessary credentials on paper is only the first step and that the true test lies in nailing the interview. But at the same time, candidates sometimes fall into the trap of placing too much emphasis on rehearsing answers to potential questions. This can cause the candidates to sound robotic or insincere. It can also make it difficult for you to see their actual personality.
Here are three tips to help you navigate rehearsed responses.
Assign the best interviewer
If the person interviewing the candidate lacks an intimate understanding of the role, it can lead to erroneous hiring decisions. Typically, the best person to conduct the interview is the candidate’s prospective supervisor or manager. By having deep knowledge of the role, the supervisor or manager can detect and cut through rehearsed responses.
To obtain an even more thorough view of the candidate’s suitability, you can also have a few well-selected team members speak with the candidate. These team members should be highly acquainted with your company culture and the requirements for the new role.
Skip boilerplate questions, or use them sparingly
Candidates may Google common interview questions, such as “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
These generic, boilerplate questions set you up for rehearsed responses. While they can help you evaluate basic soft skills, they do not provide any real insight into the candidate. For depth, you’ll need to ask more targeted questions.
Challenge the candidate with specific, situational and behavioral questions
Be prepared to push beyond the superficial by posing specific questions. For example, to get to know the candidate, you can ask the following:
- Describe in five minutes one thing that you know a lot about.
- Explain one thing that you’d like to improve on.
- What is your definition of success?
For insight into how the candidate would respond to particular scenarios, you’ll need to ask situational questions. These are hypothetical questions that seek to answer “What would you do if … ?” Situational questions should be tailored to the job, so make sure you have a sound grasp on what’s needed to capably execute the role.
The same principle goes for behavioral questions, which aim to uncover how the candidate responded to a particular situation in the past — for example, “Tell me about the last time you received constructive criticism and how you responded.”
Specific, situational and behavioral questions push the candidate out of their comfort zone and pierces the façade of rehearsed responses.