Somebody said – You can’t get the right answer till you ask the right question. I completely agree with this statement. Also, looking at this from an interviewer’s perspective- in order to find the right question, one needs to differentiate between right and wrong answers. I am just keeping technical/factual question and answers OUT from this discussion, because we know 2+2 is always 4 and there are 12 months in a year.

An interviewer should always look into a compatibility of a candidate within not only the department but within the organization on the whole. So the right answer can be a candidate’s statement which sounds healthy and beneficial for the company and a wrong answer can be any statement which holds the interviewer back with moving forward.

In order to recruit and retain well, below are 3 Tips for any interviewer to follow while interviewing candidates:-

1) Always ask about what you need, but in such a way as if you don’t need them. Let’s look at this question- “Though we have a different team for Client interaction, but still it is an integral part of this software developer profile, have you done this in the past?” let’s say, MR. ABC has not done this and MR. XYZ has done this.

Now, in this question it’s much clear with the requirement, so a MR.ABC may always say ‘yes’ (a common psychology), just to prevent him from rejection on this ground and MR. XYZ will also say ‘yes’. Hence the discussion will be longer in order to judge a candidate on this competency.

Now with the same set of candidate let’s take other version of the same question – “We have a different team for Client interaction, so we might not need you for this, other than Software Development, what do you say on this?”

Here the interviewer is not lying, but using a trick. MR. ABC may sound a bit happy and excited to know this and may say “no problem, I am happy with coding”. Vision is clear - REJECTED. But MR. XYZ will sound a bit conservative and may say, “Though I love it, but still I don’t want to stick with just coding, I would like to continue with client interactions as well, let me know if you don’t want me to do so”. Interviewer can clearly see the confidence and hence forth continue with the further discussion.

2) Don’t ask much about successes; Also ask about his failures at work place. Remember, “Carving a success story is much easier than to list the facts of one’s own failures”. This type of question may certainly help in psychological assessment on the grounds of – Honesty, Self Assessment, and Behavioral Traits etc.

3) Ask open ended questions. Suppose the job requires – (a) to be joining in maximum 30 days, and (b) minimum 2 weeks travel per month. One way of asking can be close ended – “ Can you join within 30 days and also you will be needed travel min for 2 weeks in a month, is that fine?” See, here the candidate would not like to restrict his opportunity on the way, but ultimately can lead to back out after job offer or conflicts after joining. Just for getting a job, a candidate can compromise on other requirements, but ultimately Job dissatisfaction will remain there.

Rather, it is advised that interviewer should ask it openly and diplomatically in order to understand the right picture. Other way of asking the same question can be open ended that the interviewer doesn’t reveal the exact requirement, but asks like, “Tell me what is the minimum time you will take to join and after joining what could be the maximum duration you can travel for in a month”? Here the candidate doesn’t know the exact requirement, so he will be realistic while quoting the figures. This will tell most of the facts.




From India, Delhi
Recruitment/talent Acquisition, Career Counselling

Hello Satish,
Well put--oft spoken but infrequently followed I guess--have seen even senior professionals too missing out this aspect of interviewing.
There's a lot of truth in what you mentioned: If you WANT the Right Answer, you need to ASK the Right Question.

From India, Hyderabad
Dear Mr. Satish, A good compository post. HR professionals in recruitments will definitely get a zist of it.
From India, Visakhapatnam

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