Management

The must-ask questions for every potential employee interview

It may be blunt, but you need to ask people what they are good at, what they want, and their selfish reason for wanting to work with you

Question 3: What do you want? (Because that’s not always the same thing as what you are good at)

We’re all good at things we hate doing. In a job interview, people are more likely to highlight what they are good at – i.e. their marketable and valuable skills – to get hired, often regardless of if they actually like the task.

This question differentiates between a skill they possess and a skill they want to develop or use.

“In a job interview, people are likely to highlight what they are good at–often regardless of if they actually like the task”

Of course, you’re going to need some overlap here for the fit to work. For example, if you are hiring a coder that is great at coding but hates it, you’ll likely have an engagement and retention problem on your hands. But this question also opens the door for the candidate to talk a bit more about their hopes, dreams, and aspirations. That candidate may love coding now but see themselves moving into marketing later on – something that can help with motivation, additional projects, and performance management if they join your organization.

Ideally, this question uncovers if they actually enjoy doing the thing you would be hiring them for or if there’s something else they may be more suited to. It also shows that you care about their wants and needs, not just their ability to be a resource for the company.

How to ask

Kindly and with curiosity. This is about what this person wants out of life, after all. Treat it with the care and thoughtfulness you want them to show you in their answer.

When to ask

I typically ask this as a direct follow up to “what are you good at?”. I also often add some version of “sometimes those aren’t the same thing, so I wanted to ask the two questions.”

In many cases the person will reiterate what they are good at as the thing they want. There’s no harm in wanting something you are good at. But it opens the door for a more in-depth conversation.