What questions should you ask to prevent hiring unsuitable employees?


The high turnover of employees has become a significant issue in the employment market, and the problem begins during the job interview. Here are questions you should ask, and the answers that should raise a red flag for you.

Ran Tzur and Gideon Tamar, mentors for managers and organizations, say that managers need to ask important questions such as: What are your values? What do you believe in? What significant events shaped you? What life experience can you bring to the position? Who inspires you?

Tzur and Tamar say that if you want to recruit quality employees who will stay for a long time, these are crucial questions and some answers might concern you. They published “The mental value – what do I really want?” and founded the consulting and training company TMV: The Mental Value.

Let’s take, for example, someone with a perfect resume, who made an amazing impression in their interviews and in the rigorous selection process. For a long time, this company hasn’t had a candidate with such impressive skills and abilities, so every manager approved the hiring.

But after less than a month, worrisome signs began to appear like nervousness, arrogance, lack of cooperation with team members, dismissive and condescending speech, and low motivation that continues to worsen.

Illustrative image of a job interview. (credit: PEXELS)

This is a test case that has been repeated many times in the company in different ways over the years, of recruiting candidates who made a great impression on paper and in interviews, yet after a few weeks or a few months, it turned out that the person recruited was far from what they thought, which ultimately ended in the employee’s firing.

The two explain that many companies and organizations experience high employee turnover and everyone is paying a heavy price for it, especially companies that waste precious time and money in the selection and training processes of a new employee who soon turns out to be unsuitable, and also employees who discover that they joined a company or an organization that doesn’t fit their personality or values.

How can you minimize the chance that the next time an unsuitable employee will be chosen?

Questions asked at the job interview shouldn’t just be about the professional and occupational background of the employee and can shine a different light on the candidate and testify to one’s suitability for the job and the organization.

According to Tzur and Tamar, there are some essential questions you must ask in an interview.

What values did you grow up with, and how do they guide you as a person?

Tzur and Tamar say to ask the candidate to name three-five values which serve as guides. You can learn a lot about someone from their answer. First, if one is at all aware of their values and attaches importance to them. Does the question deter or embarrass them? Are their values appropriate and relevant to the open position?

Ask them to name values of two types. One is related to personal values such as fairness, optimism, caring, tranquility, etc., and the other to operational values such as perseverance, determination, initiative, creativity, etc. Try to understand how their personal values are reflected in practice.

What do you believe in (regardless of religion or God)?

Tzur and Tamar say that beliefs are behind 90% of our decisions, and act as a conduit between the information we receive and our decisions. One employee will tell you that he only believes in himself, and the other one believes in fate. 

This information isn’t just relevant for the candidate, but it shows how one takes responsibility for actions and decisions, and to what extent do they believe in teamwork. Does he believe in hard work or luck? Also, to what extent do their beliefs align with the role they want?

Tzur and Tamar recommend asking the candidate what are the five most significant events in her life. The answer will help the interviewer learn about the candidate in-depth. First, can they talk about themselves and their life openly and honestly, how important is life to them, how much does one trust you or other people, and how much one’s connected to memories and past experiences?

Also, does a candidate focus on positive or negative events, and were they able to learn from them and draw conclusions about the future from them? This shows that a candidate can draw conclusions and learn from mistakes or successes at work.

What professional life experience would you like to apply to the position?

Don’t ask candidates dryly and simplistically about professional experience which is on the CV. Instead, try to understand what of that experience is relevant for the position they want. This will show what they know about expectations in the new position, and what strengths and weaknesses the candidate may bring. 

This contrasts with the banal and technical questions asked at most interviews: “What are your strengths and weaknesses” doesn’t really help you get to know the person sitting in front of you. A candidate who manages to connect past experience with current abilities demonstrates emotional intelligence and high intuition, which enables one to transfer from the previous workplace to the next position.

What are your future plans?

This is one of the most important questions to help an employer know how long-term the candidate is building on you and if her dreams and ambitions are related to the job they’re interviewing for. Do they answer with confidence and know how to clearly present their vision, which indicates imaging and thinking long-term? If the answer doesn’t seem to take the future seriously on a personal or professional level, that’s a red light.

Who inspires you?

Tzur and Tamar suggest asking candidates who their role models are, and what they learn from them. This very important question shows their values through their object of admiration – is it Michael Jordan, Elon Musk, Bibi Netanyahu, or perhaps their brother or wife? Ask candidates how role models inspire them, what do celebrities give them? What do role models have that they don’t and how do candidates want that to change? Answers help you get to know the candidate, and if their role models are relevant to the position they want.

Ask a candidate to talk about a strong identification experience they had with another employee.

Ask candidates to describe a process of identification and closeness they went through with another person within the framework of work. The intention is to test a candidate’s ability to step into another person’s shoes, understand what they need help with, and then offer assistance. Ask candidates to describe a situation where they could tell another employee they had the same problem and could now give advice and help the employee solve the problem.

Candidates’ answers will show you if this is a team player who’s trustworthy, supportive, and can work with others. And above all, to what extent he attributes importance and meaning to other employees, and to people in general.