What is the best way to interview job candidates? That might sound like an unnecessary question if you’re a human resources executive. If you’re a hiring manager, it could be the question you don’t want to ask. After all, you should know that already, even if you don’t frequently engage with candidates.

We’ve all been through painful, aimless interviews. We executive recruiters and HR professionals think we do better than that. At Parker Blake, we vet our candidates thoroughly before we present them to the client, whether HR exec or hiring manager. But how can we help our clients conduct their in-house interviews more effectively? What are the “best questions” for a job interview?

Imagine that you are buying a new car. You compare your vehicle “candidates” on a head-to-head basis. You compare engine vs. engine, mileage vs. mileage, warranty vs. warranty. You might even compare one shade of blue against another shade of blue. That’s how you make a reasoned, equitable decision on the best car for you.

But when we’re faced with comparing a human candidate against others, are we as methodical? For people who are only occasionally involved in hiring, it’s easy to be subjective. We like the accomplishments of Candidate A, we like the start-up leadership background of Candidate B, and we really seemed to click with Candidate C. People aren’t cars, but by creating a rubric of questions that we ask each candidate, we can get closer to evaluating candidates on an apples-to-apples basis. The key is to ask each candidate each of the standard questions that are relevant to the open position. The conversation will digress, of course, but working from a standard list will assure that you cover the basics.

What are some of the questions you should be asking each candidate? That list is specific to each position and each company, but before you begin interviewing, it’s a good idea to compile a list of standard interview questions. Here are some ideas to get you started:

About their current/previous positions:

• What were your responsibilities in this role?
• What was the biggest challenge and how did you address it?
• How many people did you manage?
• How many people did you hire/fire?
• What were your accomplishments in this role?
• What were you not able to accomplish and why?
• Why did you choose to accept this position?
• Why did you choose to leave this position?
• How was your compensation structured?
• What were your average annual earnings in this job?
• What did you like best about this position?
• What did you like the least about this position?

About their personal work style:

• What is your preferred work style?
• Who was your best manager/boss and why?
• What was your most satisfying position to date, and why?
• How would you describe your management style?
• How do you prefer to collaborate?
• If you have worked with a board of directors, how would you describe your interaction with them?

Each HR professional or hiring manager should create a list of standard questions before beginning to interview candidates, even those vetted by an executive staffing firm. Of course, you will want to adapt the questions to each position you’re hiring for.

Looking for help with staffing? Parker Blake is an Atlanta-based executive staffing firm, working nationwide to provide boutique staffing services to a limited number of clients, enabling us to give extraordinary attention to each client. While we successfully place many clients each week, each placement is the result of a deep, thorough search, and an extensive examination of skills, experience, and cultural fit, along with complete reference check and interviews. In addition to executive and professional search, Parker Blake also offers interim staffing, recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), and consulting services. To learn more about Parker Blake or to contact an executive recruiter, visit us at www.parkerblake.com or call 770.331.8547.