If you need to interview people, what are the key questions to ask when you're interviewing someone? In How to Run Successful Projects III: The Silver Bullet (3rd Edition), Fergus O'Connell suggests using three basic questions during the interview to help you evaluate your candidates.
3 Questions to Ask When You Interview
The three questions that O'Connell suggests are:
- What have you done?
- What do you want to do?
- What are you like?
What Have You Done?
The question tells you about the candidates past experience and qualifications. O'Connell says you can find out more on this by asking:
- What was the greatest moment of your life?
- Tell me the three things you've enjoyed doing most in your life?
- What was your biggest setback?
What Do You Want To Do?
This is the key question. Ideally you find somebody who is passionate about the work. O'Connell suggests asking:
- What do you definitely not want?
- If you could pick any job in the world what would it be?
- How would you like your career to go?
- What drives you?
- Are you a task-oriented or people-oriented person?
- What do you do in your leisure time?
- What would someone else say about you -- a former boss? It almost doesn't matter who it is -- it's just that if the person is hanging tough on this question, you need to get an answer.
- How hungry are you for the job?
What are You Like?
This helps you get a feel for their personality. O'Connell suggests asking:
- Describe your personality.
- Are you the kind of person that if I ask you to do a job I can regard it as done?
- What strengths and weaknesses would you be bringing to the table?
- Say something negative about yourself.
- What do you like to read?
Key Take Aways
I know using three questions seems oversimplified but I've used variations of these questions with a lot of success. Granted you need to know what you're looking for, but these questions definitely help bring out some of the most important aspects of whether somebody is a fit.
Knowing their past experience can be an indicator of capability and skill level. Knowing what they want to do can help you understand motivation. Knowing what they are like can help you anticipate whether they'll be a good fit for the team.
At the end of the day, I don't think an interview can replace first-hand experience so ideally you get to try them on the job before you buy, such as in a contract position.