Five Follow-up Interview Questions and What to Listen for in the Responses

Do you have difficulty coming up with effective follow-up interview questions? Especially ones that will produce information that is useful. We have compiled a list of five question and what to listen for in the responses.

Question 1: Tell me about a time when you had to make an important decision without checking with your boss? What did you do and what was the outcome?

What to listen for: Listen for awareness on the person’s part that too much consultation with others can delay taking action. It would be reassuring to hear that he has learned to find a balance between relying on his own experience/knowledge and seeking the advice/knowledge of others.

Question 2: How sensitive to the emotional needs of others do you feel is appropriate to be? How do you react when people ask you if you are in a bad mood?

What to listen for: It would be reassuring if this person acknowledged that emotional problems don’t bother him much at work. That he makes an effort to deal kindly and patiently with others. It is not reassuring if, the more you ask about his emotional reactions, the more detached and unemotional he becomes.

Question 3: Describe the ideal work pace for you. How you like to work?

What to listen for: If he indicates that he likes a slow work pace then listen for an indication that he can adjust his work pace to meet the demands of the job. If the job position requires a strong and steady work pace listen for an indication the he is aware of those demands and is able to make maximal use of his reserves of energy.

If he indicates that he likes a fast work pace, then listen for an indication that he has found constructive ways to use that abundant energy. Also, listen for indicators that he often becomes impatient or irritable with coworkers who cannot keep up with him.

Question 4: When you see a better way to do something on the job, how do you go about making it happen?

What to listen for: Listen for indications that the person is able to see that changes in procedures need to be made in consultation with others so that all useful suggestions can be incorporated. Listen for awareness that he has learned to consider the usefulness of the advice and suggestions from others. You do not want to hear indications that he tries to avoid or resists changes on the job.

Question 5: How would you handle a subordinate who was under-performing?

What to listen for: You would want to hear that the person recognizes, that while he always may want to get along with others, that sometimes it is necessary to make decisions, enforce rules, or provide feedback that may be unwelcome or unpopular. However, you would not want to hear that a person believes that the direct no nonsense approach is best (tell it like it is).

These are just a few follow-up questions you could ask. The point is to ask questions that are open-ended and get the person talking and then listen to the responses that he or she is giving.