When interviewing experienced staff, the key is to understand their behaviors in the context of their experience. Here are three examples of good questions to help you do this.
As you read them, you’ll notice that the questions are actually statements rather than true questions. They are open-ended — making the candidate think and synthesize information to respond effectively.
1. “I’m interested in understanding how your firm makes clients more successful?” This question will give you a quick snapshot of how the candidate relates to business value and client issues. It is also a great barometer of whether the candidate is mainly engaged in compliance or consulting. A reasonable answer to this question is a good sign. If you get a thoughtful, thorough response to this question, you are interviewing an ambitious candidate who is looking for advancement opportunities. Ask, “please tell me more” several times if you get brief answers. And remember, candidates who are introverted often need these prompts.
2. “Please tell me how work gets done in your organization?” This question can prompt many different types of responses. What you are looking for is evidence of collaboration and teamwork. Listen for “we” vs. “I” as the candidate answers. And ask the candidate to “please tell me more” when she or he pauses, but only after letting the pause sink in for a few seconds.
3. “Please tell me when you feel best about your work?” This question will measure whether the candidate is focused on client value or on just personally feeling productive. Just keep asking for different examples and you should get pretty good clarity. Other possible answers are about projects where the candidate learned a lot or projects where the team delivered a big job under time pressure. These are also good things to look for. It’s good to know that the candidate likes to learn or work hard. It’s better to see that the candidate cares about client value.
A well-constructed behavioral interview guide will have these types of questions. The key is that they let you listen for the behaviors that make candidates most successful and don’t lead the candidate to the answer.