The Big Reveal: Interview follow-up questions and probing techniques to break through a candidate’s facade

April 14, 2014 in HR Best Practices



How do you break through a food & beverage professional’s interviewing persona?

The best candidates have prepared answers to common questions. They’re often experts at interviewing and know how to say exactly what you want to hear. In other words, they’re pretty tough nuts to crack.

To help move beyond “canned” responses, we shared this list of interview questions that engage food & beverage job seekers and prompt discussion. These questions allow you to assess how well a candidate thinks on his feet, while convincing him that your opportunity is his best career move.

Asking questions like these is a great start to breaking through a candidate’s facade; but to determine if he’s really a perfect fit, you need to dig a little deeper. So today, we’re sharing these interview follow-up questions and probing techniques. These tips will help you clarify responses and get more complete answers to your questions:

  • Be an active listener. As you listen to a candidate’s initial response, take notes on phrases that require clarification or information that’s missing.
  • Restate the question. Occasionally an interviewee may go off on a tangent and fail to adequately answer your primary question. Don’t hesitate to repeat it! If you don’t get the information you need, restate the question (using slightly different language) and emphasize exactly what you want to know.
  • Validate an answer’s accuracy. Once a candidate has finished his initial answer, ask for details using the journalists’ “top five” (who, what, when, where and why questions). Requiring your interviewee to back-up his original response helps you distinguish between “canned” responses and authentic ones.  This technique also introduces “productive tension” into an interview, since it connotes that the candidate’s answer was incomplete.
  • Probe for contrary evidence. If you receive a positive response to a question, ask for reverse information. This type of question catches a candidate off-guard and makes it impossible to give a rehearsed answer. For example:
    • Question: When did your leadership skills produce financial gains for your organization?
    • Answer: Last year, my team exceeded its sales goals by 10 percent.
    • Contrary Evidence Question: When did your actions lead to a loss for your organization?
  • Do not lead a candidate. As you ask follow-up questions, make sure that the way you phrase them doesn’t clue the candidate in as to what the best response is. Keep probes neutral and open-ended.

Kinsa Group – A Better Way to Hire Food & Beverage Professionals

As a national food & beverage recruiter, The Kinsa Group has the resources and interviewing expertise to deliver executive and c-level food & beverage professionals with the skills, experience and personality to thrive in your organization. Our professionally trained interviewers are experts at uncovering a candidate’s true talents, personality and motivations – to ensure the long-term success of your next hire.