These days’ employers are not simply looking for candidates with the right technical skill sets and years of expertise under their belts. They want to hire those who also have something distinctive to offer — such as a great personality, and/or a strong set of soft skills.
“In fact, if they find a candidate who has less experience than their competition, however, have stronger growth potential and appears to be a better cultural fit, the employer might feel encouraged to hire that candidate”, says Edward Fleischman, CEO of The Execu|Search Group, a full-service recruitment, temporary staffing, and workforce management solutions firm.
In an effort to seek out new hires who are terrific cultural fits, employers are putting more emphasis on soft skills, or intangible qualities “that are not always clear on a piece of paper,” he says.
“Though the specific personality traits and temperament that employers are looking for are subjective to the role, as well as the organization, some qualities that are good indicators of success in a role include excellent organizational and communication skills, a team player attitude, strong leadership skills, and an ability to think on your feet, combined with a strong drive, and demonstrated initiative.”
To figure out if a candidate possesses the desired soft skills, or is the right personality fit, employers will often raise the following eleven interview questions in one form or another:
- If your best friend was here, what would he/she say is the best part about being your friend?
The purpose of this question is to bring out a sense of honesty and candor in a candidate. “Learning about what makes an applicant a good friend allows employers to get a better feel for whether they would fit in with the company culture,” Fleischman says.
- If you could change one thing about the way you approach challenges, what would it be?
This question, which automatically puts candidates on the hot seat, permits hiring managers to evaluate a candidate’s self-awareness, and ability to admit there are some aspects of their professional life they would like to improve, Fleischman explains.
“Since humility is considered an important quality to most employers, a response to this question is something they will listen closely to.”
- If you were an animal, what would you be, and why?
This query is a favorite among hiring managers because it allows them to not solely evaluate how quickly someone can think on their feet, but it requires candidates to exercise creative thinking in a relatively short amount of time. These are two skills which would be applicable to solving nearly any business challenge.
- What has been the foremost satisfying moment in your life?
When employers raise this question, they are wanting to see what motivates a candidate and whether their values fit into the company culture, Fleischman says.
- How would your last supervisor describe you in 3 words?
“This inquiry provides the employer with a glimpse into how others view a candidate’s professional value,” he explains. Since this question is specific in the fact that it asks about the applicant’s last role, the response can facilitate the employer’s ability to see if these traits are applicable to their own organization.
- What drives you in your professional life?
Employers raise this question to gain insight into what motivates a candidate, both in their career and as a potential employee.
“As cultural fit becomes increasingly important to employers and their business as a whole, several seek out candidates whose goals align with theirs, and asking this question permits them to assess specifically what a candidate’s goals are,” Fleischman says.