How to Get Better Interview Answers from Job Candidates

Let’s face it: we’ve heard – and even said – it all before: “team player,” “people person,” “self-starter.” While these are all great adjectives, they have been overused so much in the job search that hiring recruiters and managers don’t take them seriously anymore. As far as they’re concerned, everyone seems to be a self-described team player or people person during a job interview.

So how can hiring recruiters and managers wade through the overused clichés to learn the truth about candidates? TIME suggests asking the right follow-up questions for these overused interview answers.

If a job candidate describes themself as a “people pleaser,” ask them about times they’ve differed with a client or co-worker and how they worked to win them over. Or if they state that they are “flexible,” follow up with a question about having to change focus mid-project or times when they’ve had to adjust to a changing market.

Candidates who use the phrase “problem solver” in the job interview can be asked to articulate a time or situation they encountered that required them to do such. And if you’ve really planned ahead, put together a problem they might experience in your workplace or industry and ask them about steps they would take to find a solution.

TIME explains that “self-starters” should be prompted to talk about a time when they’ve taken action while “team players” need to be asked about their previous experiences with co-workers, both good and bad. When using follow-up questions for “hard workers,” ask for examples of times they’ve met difficult deadlines as well as scenarios in which they performed beyond their job description, states TIME.

And finally, when it comes to the most overused phrase on the resume – “highly qualified” – prompt candidates to elaborate during the job interview. You’ll be looking for interview answers that express unique skill sets, certifications and recognitions.

Getting the interview answers you’re looking for asks you to do a little more preparation before the actual job interview. Too much these days, hiring recruiters and managers are bogged down with other responsibilities and priorities, and they neglect to do the necessary prep before a job interview. Instead, they’re accepting clichéd answers just as they’re asking clichéd questions.

With a little research and a half an hour of prep time, hiring recruiters and managers can avoid circling standard interview conversations and learn more about the candidates they’re interviewing. With that, they’re making better hiring decisions, which yields better results for the business and happier new hires.