Do you know what I mean by “gotcha questions?” These are the questions designed to trap, trick or zap a candidate. These types of questions are often used by interviewers who believe they need to “win” the interview. I know it sounds odd and uncommon (I certainly hope it is), but I have sat through interviews where the gotcha questions have been asked.
Interview questions are a tricky sort. Almost everyone enjoys reading interview questions in hope of discovering an effective one. However, we incorporate assessments into our process which provides an x-ray of the candidate’s abilities, motivations, aptitudes, style, etc. The power in this approach is that it identifies the specific areas to pursue with the candidate.
I view the questioning approach as having two important approaches. First, ask questions to probe the candidate’s weaknesses. For 10 year I have been in search of the perfect sales candidate. I haven’t found them yet. Instead, I look for candidates who have the right blend of abilities to succeed in the position’s unique requirements. This includes asking questions specifically designed to expose some of their weaknesses. How intense are they? Are they detrimental to this position? (not all are) How does this weakness show up in their day-to-day selling activities?
I don’t use gotcha questions, but rather simply constructed, open-ended questions or statements. This is the most effective manner to dig into these difficult to identify areas.
Second, I use questions to confirm the candidate’s strength areas. The assessment measures a strength area, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the candidate is using that strength. I like to pursue the topic with them to get a feel for their use of the strength. I have seen salespeople with great strength areas that they choose not to access. Sometimes this questioning approach gets overlooked.
Again, all of these tasks can be accomplished because we incorporate the assessment procedure early in our hiring process.