Assessing A Candidate’s Mindset From Basic Interview Questions

Numerous studies have shown that rapid employee turnover is detrimental to a company’s success. The time, energy and financial resources needed to allocate to the advertising, recruiting, selection and training processes can be underestimated and over budgeted, if employees leave a company frequently. Moreover, the corporate image and culture of the company becomes questionable in the job market, resulting in the best industry staff being disinterested in working at that company. However, the longer a role remains vacant, the more undone needed work accumulates in the office and, the more pressure existing employees face to manage their current work load and any other tasks assigned to them from the missing employee. More than often, this results in existing employees taking less care and pride in the additional work which sparks inefficiencies to a large extent. 

Therefore, it is important that the selection team at a company carefully identifies employees who are aligned with the corporate vision, values and culture of the company, to mutually benefit both parties. But how can this be done? How can a company fill a role effectively for its long-term benefit and as soon as possible, without ‘winging’ the process and ‘hoping’ that the person hired will stay beyond probation? Let’s assume the pay is on par with industry scales and the costs of switching jobs is low for employees. So, let’s look at the candidate in the interview process. How can you, the interviewer decipher the mindset of the candidate to tell whether or not this person is the perfect fit for the job? Read into the answers. 

  1. Tell us about yourself

This is one of the first questions you will ask a candidate and, it gives the first impression of that candidate which often has a lasting effect. Therefore, assess the candidate’s body language, enthusiasm and confidence they demonstrate when answering this question. Candidates who introduce themselves with the willingness and confidence to speak about who they are, where they’ve come from and what they are interested in, are those who are aware of their worth and, they nurture a mindset for growth and opportunities. This is the candidate who is independent and feels empowered by their life’s journey. A candidate like this is ideal to be on board your company.  

2. Tell us about a challenging situation you once faced

Challenges in the office can take the form of dealing with production shortages, power outages, communication mishaps, missing deadlines, disgruntled customers, incorrect work and so on. One challenge you want to listen attentively for is dealing with conflicts with co-workers or management. If this is not talked about, ask about it. A candidate will respond to your questions based on what they feel is best suited as an answer and what will help them to score high. Don’t be swayed by this. Get real. Talk about conflicts with peers and management. What were some people issues the candidate had in the past and how did he or she deal with it? What approach they felt was best to deal with it? The response to this kind of question will indicate how well that candidate will get along with other staff members, their approach to people challenges, how they intend on integrating seamlessly on the job and if their focus is on the bigger picture or competing in-house.

3. Why do you want this  job?

The candidate who wants your job because of the money you’re paying, would leave for more money as soon as an offer comes up, especially if it’s someone who is leaving where they are because they want more money. In other words, money would easily tempt them. The candidate who wants the experience and opportunity to grow on the job as well as contribute to the success of the company, is a keeper. The latter will feel a sense of belonging on the job and be willing to problem-solve as much as possible to ensure companywide success. 

4. Why should we hire you?

This question asks the candidate to market him/her self or convince the interviewing team of the candidate’s value to the company. In this context, a candidate would not be able to compare him/herself with other candidates but they will know the value they bring to the company. Listen carefully to the candidate’s response. Candidates who talk about ‘other candidates’ in ways that disempowers them, especially not knowing anything about them, is likely to talk down to the other staff in your company. In-house competition is not healthy and diverts the focus from the company’s success. Discourage this. 

5. What kind of person do you think you’ll grow into if you worked with us?

Now this is not a popular question on the interviewer’s list but it is an important one. Many candidates come knowing who they are and what they’ve experienced so that they can share this with you to assess their potential. However, not many candidates dream beyond the moment of being hired. A candidate who knows who he wants to grow into at your company, is a keeper. He knows he can contribute something meaningful to your company and he owns the company as his own. This not only gives the candidate a vision to work towards but keep his thinking and behaviour aligned to that vision so destructive behaviour like office gossip and in-house competition among staff are curbed. 

Overall, you want to select candidates who understand your company and what it stands for. You want candidates who would represent the quality you represent. You want candidates who will grow as the company grows and those who intend to stick with you to keep on evolving. You want candidates who believe in you and so, it’s important to know their mindset from the inception. Not the rehearsed version of who they are to get the job, but the mindset they are coming with to help you to keep innovating and expanding. Whether it be a frontline staff or someone in management, decoding the mindset is the same.