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  • Alejandro Buriel

The most "important questions" in a job interview, are the ones you ask before it.


Probably one of the topics that has generated more literature in LinkedIn, is the one related with how to find the right candidate for a job. How to do interviews. Most of these articles are looking for the magic formula, the right question, the abracadabra of the job interviewing, the one that is going to clarify if this is the right candidate or not.

Of course the questions are important inside of the process. In my opinion:

First, there is not a question that tells you if that professional is the right candidate (because every candidate may be good for a different role).

Second, the questions come from an entirely different process (an internal one, what do we really need?). Some questions are related with us, our company, the strategy, etc. (like the examples below) some are related with the candidate hard and soft skills. Let us do our homework first.

  • What is our strategy? Where do we want to be in the next six months, in one year time or in two?

  • How is our current organization chart, do we have the right structure to face a challenge or project like this? Where will our candidate be placed? Skills and experience required for this position? Leadership level, size of the teams previously managed, etc.

  • What are the main challenges that the newly appointed professional will have to face right after joining, in the next six, twelve or eighteen months?

Then, we can prepare our questions to find out if our candidate really has a match. Now that we know what the position requires, we can look for these qualities on the candidates.

We look in the market for a candidate that has the relevant competencies and experience. This means a person, that has been successful at doing something similar or even facing the same challenge for other organizations (in many cases, similar to ours, competitors, suppliers, providers, etc...). By finding someone that is an expert or has proven experience with these or analogous challenges, we can increase the chances that, this person will already posses the right competencies, already developed to assume the role and perform well.

What we are looking for in Executive Search are C-Level and Senior Executives. It is extremely important that these people are already top performers. What are top performers?

They are proactive and know how to prioritize what is important and urgent, they have clear goals, full of resources, having a wide network in their sector that allows them learning from the best, they find solutions to problems, they are positive and optimistic, they are passionate about keep learning constantly and are motivated by growing on personal and professional means, they share what they know. They are leaders and know how to develop their team, mentor, coach, support or delegate in them, they create leaders. They do not need to constantly approach colleagues to ask for information or solutions as they are good at finding them.

How do you find if they have those qualities? Ask about previous challenges, issues, conflicts, etc. How did they reacted in front of a conflict or issue? What kind of thought process did they use to analyse the situation? How did they solved them? Who else was involved? What was the outcome? How do they organize their work to achieve their target? How do they set priorities? Ask to their subordinates, colleagues and previous line managers in former employers. Ask your candidate about new skills, hobbies, abilities, areas of expertise developed, if they have invested time on their business education (trainings, MBA, etc.)

As I said before, it is not a question what tells you if you have the right candidate but a systematic and serious approach to what you really need, what will give you the answer of what to look for. Start asking yourself the right questions and the right candidate will follow.

I would like to hear your thoughts. If you want to find out more about this topic, please contact me.

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