You can conduct the best interview in the world with a prospective employee, but if you ask the wrong questions, you’ll not find out what you need to know.
Paul Peterson, national talent resource manager with Grant Thornton LLP in Toronto, Canada, here advises pharmacists on seven essential subjects you need to discuss with job candidates:
- Find out the last places your candidate worked and chronologically go through and find out details about each job.
- Ask them how their former bosses would rate them and what he or she would list as the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. (Following up with former bosses is actually a really good thing to do, adds Peterson.)
- Ask the candidate what they rate as their biggest accomplishments and find out why those accomplishments are a big deal for them. “You can find a lot out about people’s value systems, and whether are they goal-setters with this question,” he explains.
- Have the candidate describe the team at the last three jobs he or she had, and how the company was when they left. Find out what role your candidate played in any changes. “You want to assess if the changes (positive or negative) were a result of your candidates’ performance or something else,” says Peterson. “Primarily, you want to assess if your candidate exhibited behavioral traits that are in line with what you are seeking. For example it could be things like problem solving, conflict resolution, team building etc.”
- Think about problems you have in your pharmacy—such as difficult customers—and ask the candidate how they would deal with that problem.
- Ask: What are your biggest weaknesses professionally and what have you done to overcome them? This question can lead to a canned answer, Peterson says. Job candidates often turn it around and give responses such as “I work too hard.” Peterson prefers a legitimate answer such as how a project didn’t go as planned and what the person learned from it. “Nobody wants to work with someone who can’t admit their mistakes,” he explains.
- Peterson’s “zinger” question is: What’s the biggest misconception that people have about you and how do you overcome it? “This tells me what the perception is that the candidate gives to others, but more importantly, what they’d do to overcome it,” he explains. “And I need to know if people can answer things pretty quickly and if they can think on their feet. You should be able to answer this question in a few seconds—not 15 to 20.”