3 Killer Questions for a Job Interview – and the Science behind them

Bauldville reported on the first day of a role 67% of millennials are already thinking about applying for a new job. To improve your chances of finding a great hire that is more likely to stay, use these questions and the science behind them.

Tell me about a time you made a mistake at work?

A question like this aims to understand two areas: a candidate’s resilience – whether they can overcome challenges quickly, as well as their emotional intelligence – which is how honest they are with themselves or others about their actions and feelings.

Resilience sits under the personality type ‘emotional stability’, one of the ‘Big Five’ personality factors, proposed by Costa and McCrae (1992). Emotional intelligence is measured by the ‘Emotion test’, which is taken from research by Paul Ekman. Both attributes can be measured through Cognisess’ platform using two assessments heavily substantiated by their research.

It is not about the size of the mistake they describe, but how the candidate dealt with the aftermath of it. ‘‘You won’t hear people low in emotional intelligence take much accountability for their mistakes.’ claimed Mark Murphy in Forbes.

Does the candidate accept responsibility for making a mistake? A research article ‘Who Accepts Responsibility for Their Transgressions?’ by Schumann and Dweck (2014) found that people are more likely to apologise and take responsibility for their actions if they believe they can change their behaviour. This acceptance demonstrates a ‘growth’ mindset and a willingness to change in the future. A key feature of personality traits are that they remain stable across time and context. With this in mind, the findings of this study remain generalisable to the work environment, even though the original context was romantic relationships. As such, this study demonstrates a key behavioural factor in how successful an employee will be in the workplace.

Tell me an interesting fact about yourself.

Not only will the answer demonstrate an example of their personality type, it will also give the interviewer an insight into how the individual views themself. The candidate must select what they deem to be ‘interesting’ it offers a view of how the individual will fit within the company or team culture. For example, a candidate who chooses to relay information about a recently gained skydiving qualification may be more extraverted than a candidate who has expressed their passion for classical literature. Depending on the position available and the culture of the company, one candidate may be better suited than the other. Extraversion is also one of the more commonly discussed traits from ‘The Big Five’ (Costa and McCrae, 1992).

This also may not be a question the applicant has prepared for. You will be able to observe first hand how an applicant thinks under pressure. However good a person is at hiding how they feel about a question, their true expression will display on their face for one-fifth of a second. Cognisess Video Intelligence is able to capture this to enable you to explore how the candidate is actually feeling.

Do you have any questions?

This will be able to tell you how attentive an applicant was throughout the interview, if done right it should feel like they are interviewing you.

Top candidates may display ‘reflective listening’ – a communication strategy where a candidate listens to what you have said about the role and then paraphrases parts back to you in a form of a question. Good listening skills exhibit emotional intelligence, as the applicant values what you are saying instead of thinking about what they want to say. This will be more important when recruiting for a leadership role as in one study, 44% of employees reported poor communication skills as a main obstacle when successfully leading a team.

Additionally, Cognisess’ software is able to reveal insights into candidates prior to the interview stage. It assesses them on all levels – their cognitive capacity, emotional intelligence and personality. Our algorithms then custom builds an interview guide from a database comprised of 500 questions tailored to the role you are hiring for; saving you time before the interview and allowing you to really listen to what each candidate has to offer.

To understand how to use People Analytics for more successful hiring contact us today.