Three essential questions that may save you from hiring the wrong people


Hiring managers are known for asking the wrong interview questions without understanding the kind of questions that will validate culture fit and good leadership skills

Hiring managers are known for asking the wrong interview questions without understanding the kind of questions that will validate culture fit and good leadership skills.

Whether you’re new to the practice of interviewing or not, behavioural interviewing in a cross-functional, panel format with scorecards and measures in place is a must to avoid bringing in the wrong people.

“This approach gives hiring managers a clear edge as job candidates may not get a chance to deliver any prepared stories or scripted answers,” says Leadership from the core founder Marcel Schwantes.

“But first, it starts with asking the right questions. Here are three questions that hiring managers should be asking.”

  1. Tell me what you discovered about our company and the position you’re applying for?

It should be every hiring manager’s expectation to interview well-informed and well-prepared job candidates ready to knock their socks off.

In fact, according to a Glassdoor survey of 750 hiring decision-makers to find out what they thought were the critical skills a job candidate should have to ensure a great interview, 88 percent say “an informed candidate is a quality candidate.”

When informed candidates come into the initial phases of an interview process locked and loaded, hiring managers acknowledge that “they know more and self-select for the positions that are right for them,” which make them quality candidates and the hiring process a lot easier.

What does an informed candidate look like, according to survey respondents?

  • They are prepared for the interview and asks pertinent questions
  • They demonstrate the right experience
  • They are knowledgeable about the job role and the organization’s culture and values
  • They are engaged in their job search
  • They present a more customised resume or cover letter
  1. If we ever got into a bind with a client, would you be willing to tell a little white lie to help us out?

This is a trick question to drill down to a person’s core values. Anyone operating with integrity will raise a red flag and object to the question.  You can explain your motive for asking it later, once you determine the individual has passed the lie test.

Hiring managers must dig hard in the interview process to get the answers they need to feel confident someone has the non-negotiable character of integrity. This is one way of doing it.

If a job candidate answers with a ‘yes,’ or waffles through his answer undetermined, cut the interview short and wish that person a nice day.

The only right answer is a firm and resounding ‘no’ and you’ll want to follow up with “Tell me why?” to further validate his or her integrity because anything else indicates a lesser degree of integrity from the high bar you should be setting for selecting future employees.

  1. Tell me your story — something that I won’t find on your résumé. 

The reason hiring managers should ask the question is to weed out potential jerks and other toxic traits. Hiring smart and talented people for the job is important. More important, however, is hiring smart and talented people without huge egos and domineering personalities.

As the last line of defense to safeguard your culture, spend 30 minutes to get to know the job candidate one last time, in a less structured final interview. Then pop the question and listen intently for clues.

What are you listening for, exactly? 

The real person. After a round of interviews with several people, job candidates will start to let their guard down and show their true self. You can use your intuitive listening skills to search for self-absorption.

For example, if your work culture is founded on strong people principles of teamwork and collaboration, but you hear too many examples of “I did this” and “I did that” and not enough “we” and “team,” this is a good indication that person is not a fit.

Since most of us spend more time and waking hours with our co-workers (even more so than with friends and families) the last thing you want is to spend it with people you don’t like on the job.

You don’t have to love your co-workers, but you should at least like them to work better together.


Marcel Schwantes is founder and chief human officer of Leadership From the Core@marcelschwantes