Need Better Answers? Here’s Why You Need to Ask Better Questions

If you want answers, you need questions.

And if you want to recruit the best agile, flexible, and emotionally intelligent employees in 2021, then it pays to think carefully about the questions asked at the interview.

Better competency-based interview questions produce better results when it comes to recruitment. In the face of the 2021 economic impact of Brexit and Covid-19 upon UK business, smart questions at interview allow you to recruit with confidence and avoid wasting valuable resources on candidates that are not an ideal fit for your business needs.

Einstein famously said:


“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask… for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”


Determining competency-based interview questions that solve the problem

When it comes to interview questions, the proper question is the one that allows you to find out exactly what it is you want to know about the candidate’s experiences, task-focused skills and attitude.

You also want to know if the candidate processes the right blend of soft skills that make for emotional intelligence.

Are they resilient? Creative? A team player?  Curious and able to connect?

Or, are they someone who demonstrates some of the many derailers identified by Dr Alan Bourne and his team at SOVA Assessments?

A candidate who demonstrates personality traits and behaviours of unconventionality, boldness and meticulousness may seem a confident candidate.

However, these personality traits can ultimately cause an employee and a team to lose focus, motivation, and efficiency. Other common derailers include being over-sensitive, dramatic, hesitant, or casual.

You need questions that get to the heart of whether a potential candidate will derail your business, or add value?


Avoiding wacky questions

There’s been a trend over recent years to ask fun, light-hearted and zany interview questions: “What Superhero would you be and why?”

Or “imagine you’ve travelled back in time to the 1950s. Can you explain Social Media?”

Often the intended purpose of such questions is to observe how the candidate handles something out of the ordinary, something wacky.  Are they creative in their thinking and can they communicate well? Are they thrown by the incongruence of the question or do they hold their nerve?

Such questions may also say something about the organisation asking the question: many employers want to convey an aura of being a fun, modern and cutting-edge workplace.

However, the contrast of the formality of an interview setting with weird and wacky questions is unlikely to bring out the best in the candidate before you, and may leave potential employees with the wrong impression.

What may have been intended as fun, modern, and cutting-edge can also come across as crass, ludicrous and amateurish.


Don’t leave the right questions to chance.

It pays dividends to do your homework when it comes to interview questions. If you are serious about hiring the right candidate who will not be derailed under pressure by their behavioural preferences, which could undermine team cohesion and personal efficiency, then zany and wacky questions that convey a laid-back approach are to be avoided.

You want research informed diagnostic tools and approaches that give you the information you need. Such tools can reduce turnover by identifying the best fit candidate.

They also limit any unconscious bias on the part of hiring managers. In a competitive marketplace post-Covid you need people who do exactly what you need them to do without drama.

In the UK, many companies – large and small, use psychometric and ability testing in the hiring process. That figure is increasing year on year.

But tests need to be used with precision and ideally, tests based on the ‘Big 5’ (‘OCEAN’) or ‘Big 5 + 1’ (HEXACO – our preference at Talentpraxis Group when profiling mid to senior level, short-listed candidates).

Simply downloading a standard assessment tool and using the same measure with every candidate for every role is unlikely to give you the finely tuned responses you are looking for.


As Einstein says, it is all about asking the proper question.

Such questions will vary from role to role and from team to team. Talentpraxis Group offers a flexible personality and ability profiling service with bespoke reports written by highly experienced Chartered Psychologists based on the ‘Big 5 + 1’ personality profile from SOVA Assessment, tailored to the specific and unique job description and person specification.

Each report contains specific questions aimed at each candidate’s least preferred behaviours.

In other words, a service that allows you to ask the proper question during 2021 interviews. Ask the right questions and you’ll get a deeper understanding of each candidate, allowing you to make a far more accurate recruitment decision.