The Most Important Questions You Have Never Asked


Building a great teamin business takes clear thinking, a strong strategy, and an understanding of the big picture. All these factors are necessary and important, but if you can’t assess candidates in the job interview, you’re not going to put that understanding into practical application, day-today, year-to-year. There is no more important business decision – not one – than who to hire.”

–        Doug Hardy,


You have done all the hard work. You have gotten a great deal of information about the position you are trying to fill. You know the requirements, the experience, the education and the personality of the ideal candidate. You have covered the compensation package and know that it is reasonable. If you are a 3rd party recruiter you have cleared the fee. You have sourced, screened, selected and interviewed numerous candidates and presented a slate of qualified, interested and available candidates to the hiring manager. The interviews take place and none of your candidates are made an offer.

Sound familiar? This ever happened to you?

You then begin to question your work, your understanding of the position, your ability to recruit the right candidates for your client. Even the feedback from the hiring manager doesn’t quite mesh with what you knew about each candidate and the position. Something went wrong in the interview, and you had no control of that part of the hiring process.

The truth is that you have no idea how good the hiring managers, the decision makers are at interviewing. Most hiring managers dread the interview. They dread it because they have little or no training in how to effectively perform the task. And study after study has shown that most hiring decisions are made within the first two minutes of the interview.   

And yet there is no more important business decision than who to hire.

In a book entitled “Boost Your Hiring IQ” author Carole Martin, the Interview Coach, offers up a simple 50 question test to rate your interviewing skills and help you see where you need to strengthen your skills and your ability to ask better questions.

Martin’s contention is that most candidates, especially those coming from recruiters, are much better prepared for the job interview than are the people conducting the interview.

Based on the type of information the interviewer is seeking, the test offers up three questions. The interviewer then picks what he/she considers to be the strongest question. The questions are then rated as strongest, mediocre, weakest and depending on which question was chosen the interviewer gets points, 5 points for the strongest, 3 points for the mediocre and 0 points for the weakest. Add up the points at the end of the IQ test and your score range gives your Hiring IQ.

Here is an example.

Learning why the applicant wants to work for your company you could ask. 

  1. What is it that interests you most about the position/company?
  2. What attracted you to this particular job posting?
  3. How would you compare this position to your current or last position?

The strongest question is __________

Everyone in a position to interview candidates should have an Interview IQ score and periodically retake the test and continue improving those interviewing skills.

Martin then offers up five rules to improve your hiring process. After all you could be a good interviewer with a good IQ score but unless you follow these five rules you will be just that, a good interviewer.

The five rules are:

  1. Assess the job before the interview. What is the role of the job?
  2. Identify the job’s “key factors” for success.
  3. Prepare questions to ask during the interview.
  4. Include all interviewers in the plan/process.
  5. Objectively review the results and rate the candidate after the interview.

All of us in the recruiting and talent acquisition business have an opportunity to help our clients, our hiring managers get better at interviewing. The better they become at interviewing, more of our candidates will be hired and contribute to the success of the hiring company.

The questions that are never asked but should be asked at the very beginning of the engagement are,” How good are you at interviewing? What is your Interviewing IQ? Would you mind taking an Interviewing IQ test?” It is much better to get this information early in the engagement than to not get it at all and hope that all your hard work pays off. Yet, I wonder if any of us are confident enough to ask these questions. I for one intend to find out.

Now, what question did you feel was the strongest?  The strongest was C. Were you right? Then give yourself 5 points.


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