Improve Candidate Experience and Engagement by Asking Better Questions

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May 9, 2019

We all love to hear ourselves talk, and we appreciate when others listen to us. In interviews, we can use this to our advantage by asking better questions. These questions swiftly help us spot and avoid bad hires while also improving candidate experience and engagement.

Questions are better when they’re easily understood. Too often, our questions are confusing. We use too many words, overwhelming the listener.

There’s a science to asking great questions. Questions posed in the right manner are easily understood, allowing listeners to think carefully about their answers. You can actually see this happen. When people are asked compelling questions, they pause, think, and then respond. Their response is more thorough, accurate, and satisfying for everyone in the conversation.

The most effective manner of querying candidates is using “launching” questions. These provocative, open-ended questions are 12 words or less. Their brevity ensures that they are easily understood, launching people into giving detailed answers. Launching questions create conversational quid pro quo: The questioner wants to understand, and the respondent gets to be understood. Every response by the candidate can be turned into a new launching question, allowing you to develop an even deeper understanding.

Here are three such launching questions often used during a telephone interview.

“Why us?”

Motives are important. Knowing if your candidate is inspired by your company’s mission or just needs a job will help you pick the best people.

“Why now?”

When a candidate is actively searching for a job, know what’s driving that decision. Is the candidate desperate to make a change, ready to leap at the first offer? Or, is she simply open to a new opportunity that could make life even better? Knowing what’s driving someone’s behavior is vital in choosing the right people for your company.

“What job suits you best?”

Too often, interviewers ask candidates about their perfect job. Such a question sets the candidate and the employer up for failure since jobs and companies are rarely perfect. Instead of asking about perfection, ask about personal fit.

The mutually beneficial experience created by these questions has a number of payoffs. In a matter of minutes, you’ll gain insights as to what’s driving the candidate’s interest in the opportunity. You’ll quickly experience her listening skills and hear how effective she is in responding to your query. Her personality will show up, letting you begin to determine whether or not she’ll fit your culture. At the same time, she has a positive and engaging of experience of being thoroughly heard, especially as you take her responses and ask additional launching questions.

Launching questions are particularly important when you speak with passive candidates. Since these individuals aren’t actively looking for work, engaging them in a meaningful conversation can be a challenge. Not so when using launching questions. For example, when someone says they aren’t looking for a job, you could ask, “Under what circumstances would you consider something new?” If someone says they’re happy in their current role, you could pose, “What would make you happier?” Both examples engage talented people in a conversation about possibilities.

Many efforts to improve candidate experience and engagement are time consuming and costly. Some of these efforts work well, creating a positive ROI. Others fall short, wasting time and money. Launching questions are a quick to implement cost-free way to create guaranteed ROI. The investment of time in asking better questions will inform and inspire both interviewers and candidates, creating an engaging and memorable hiring experience.

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