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The Power of Open-Ended Questions in a Job Interview

The Power of Open-Ended Questions in a Job Interview

During one-way video interviews, creating the right set of questions is very important for prompt candidates to open up. Open-ended questions play a significant role in this process by getting thoughtful responses that show the candidate’s true personality. For example questions like “Can you describe a challenging project you managed?” or “What motivates you in your work?” help candidates share in-depth insights into their experiences and motivations. This approach allows hiring managers to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the candidate, thereby ensuring a better assessment of their fit for the role and the company culture.

What are Open-Ended Questions?

Open-ended questions are inquiries that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” That is they require more elaborate responses, providing insights into the respondent’s thoughts. Examples include “Can you describe a time when you overcame a significant challenge at work?” or “What motivates you in your professional life?”

Benefits of Open-Ended Questions in On-demand Interviews

Depth of Information.

Open-ended questions allow candidates to provide detailed responses that offer deeper insights into their experiences and qualifications. According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), candidates’ responses to open-ended questions can reveal their problem-solving skills, critical thinking abilities, and emotional intelligence in ways that closed questions cannot .

Understanding Behavioral Patterns.

These questions help interviewers understand how candidates have handled past situations, which can be indicative of future performance. Behavioral interview questions, such as “Tell me about a time you led a team to achieve a difficult goal,” enable interviewers to assess candidates’ competencies in real-life contexts. This approach is rooted in the Behavioral Event Interviewing (BEI) method, which focuses on past behavior as the best predictor of future behavior .

Uncovering Cultural Fit.

Cultural fit is a crucial aspect of hiring. Open-ended questions such as “What kind of work environment do you thrive in?” help employers determine whether a candidate’s values and working style align with the company’s culture. Research by the Harvard Business Review highlights that employees who fit well with their organizational culture are more likely to exhibit higher job satisfaction and lower turnover rates .

Identifying Unique Strengths and Weaknesses.

By allowing candidates to discuss their experiences and viewpoints in their own words, interviewers can identify unique strengths and areas for development that might not emerge from a structured question format. This is useful in roles requiring creativity and innovation, where traditional questioning may not fully capture a candidate’s potential.

Compose your own useful open-ended questions

Turning a closed question into an open-ended one involves rephrasing it to encourage a more detailed response. For instance, instead of asking, “Did you enjoy your previous job?” which can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no,” you may ask, “What aspects of your previous job did you enjoy the most?” This invites the candidate to elaborate on their experiences and preferences. Similarly, changing “Can you use Excel?” to “Can you describe your experience with using Excel in your previous roles?” prompts a richer discussion about their skills and how they have applied them in real-world situations.

Also, to maximize the benefits of open-ended questions, interviewers should be mindful of their phrasing and follow-up techniques:

  • Be Specific and Relevant: tailor questions to the specific competencies and qualities required for the role. For example, “Can you provide an example of a project where you had to manage multiple deadlines?” is more effective than a generic “Tell me about yourself.”
  • Probe Further: follow up on initial responses with probing questions to gain more detail. If a candidate mentions a successful project, asking “What specific strategies did you implement to ensure the project’s success?” can tell more about their skills and thought processes.
  • Balance the Conversation: while open-ended questions are valuable, it’s important to balance them with other types of questions to keep the interview focused and ensure all necessary topics are covered.

In addition to all of the above, you can read the list of open questions in this article.