When you're searching for interview questions that will pack the most punch, the ideal questions are going to vary from business to business. What's considered a "high-impact" question for one company may mean nothing to another. Still, many employers are finding good results from using "behavior-based" interviewing techniques, in which they give you a scenario and ask you how you would handle it. The thinking there is that the way you behaved before will be similar to how you'll behave if put in a similar situation now. One author has even given this method a name: high-impact interviewing.
In her book "High Impact Interview Questions," author Victoria A. Hoevemeyer describes high-impact questions as "behavioral" interview questions -- or questions in which the interviewee talks about how she would act in the work setting. One way to do this is to think of tough scenarios that have come up in the workplace, in which workers have had to make a difficult decision or handle a tricky situation. Outline the situation for the job candidate, and then ask her how she would have handled something similar.
Dislikes in the Old Job
You may get a glimpse into the candidate's real character by asking her another off-the-wall question: why she disliked her old boss, or what she really disliked about her past positions. If you can get a candidate talking honestly about things she didn't like, you may see a clearer picture than if you would have asked her to describe her own strengths and weaknesses; often, employees dislike the things they're not good at doing. Make this question even more high-impact by asking the candidate how she dealt with the "bad" aspects of her job.
During the interview, you want to be able to see as clearly as possible how the candidate would fit into the company and the things she would bring to the table. As such, another question with high impact may involve some brainstorming or putting the candidate on the spot. Think of initiatives your company is hoping to launch -- or ones you've recently gotten off the ground. Explain the basic premise, and then give the candidate five minutes to come up with ideas for the new project -- or reasons why she would or would not support such an initiative. Another idea would be to ask how she's dealt with innovative projects in the past and how she came up with her ideas.
Ideal Work Environment
Another way to find out whether the candidate is going to fit into the culture at your company is to inquire about her ideal work environment. You could ask her this flat-out, or you could ask her to describe the job or work environment she liked best, and why. Then ask her to describe a typical day on the job at that workplace. If she describes a workflow that is similar to your own workplace, she may be a good fit.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.