What is a non-technical interview?
When you’re interviewing for technical jobs, you’re going to have to ask technical questions.
However, to get to know your candidate and his suitability for the job he’s applying for, you must ask some non-technical questions too.
A non-technical job interview is a job interview that does not focus on technical knowledge.
In this article, we’ll show you the most common types of non-technical questions, some uncommon ones, the different types of non-technical questions you can ask, and a few other things too.
How do I prepare for a non-technical interview?
Prepare for a non-technical interview by creating a list of questions you’re going to ask the interviewee.
You might even want to do mock interviews, so you get a little practice on grilling candidates.
What are some common non-technical interview questions?
Here are some questions you might ask during a non-technical interview:
What’s your greatest strength?
Make sure your applicant answers this as clearly and unequivocally as possible. This is no time for beating around the bush!
Prompt him to talk about how he’s demonstrated that strength over the years. Encourage him to discuss how that skill differentiates him from everyone else and how it could be valuable to the company he’s hoping to work for.
What is your greatest weakness?
By asking this question, you’ll get your interviewee to reveal something vulnerable about himself.
If he’s too clever by half by offering up an answer that’s a strength disguised as a weakness, this is a definite red flag. Also, he shouldn’t provide an endless litany of every single one of his shortcomings because this might be an indicator of too little self-esteem.
He also shouldn’t go on ad infinitum about his mental health history or anything else that might be seen as providing too much information.
Instead, see if you can get him to talk about a genuine weakness and how he used it to transcend his failings.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
If your candidate answers this question with “I don’t know,” he might be too wishy-washy and indecisive. However, if he tells you he’s probably going to be working at a different job by then, skip him and proceed to the next candidate.
You want your prospective employee to say he sees himself as an integral part of the company for the foreseeable future, helping it grow and overcome competitors' challenges.
Why did you leave your last company?
Even if your applicant was fired, despised his boss, or detested his co-workers, he should try to find a way to put his experience in a positive light.
If he says his boss was a total jerk who screwed up everything he touched, you probably shouldn’t give the job to this person. Acceptable answers include the culture wasn’t the right fit, or his skills were being underutilized.
He should be as honest as he can without revealing anything too negative.
Tell me about a time you had a dispute with a co-worker and how that was settled.
This question is designed to test your candidate’s emotional maturity. Everybody's going to have conflicts with colleagues. You want to make sure your interviewee has the necessary interpersonal skills in his arsenal to solve these types of problems.
Even if his previous job involved remote work, he’s probably had an issue with someone over the phone. See how good he is at talking about the conflict while putting a positive spin on it.
This means he shouldn’t belittle the person he had the conflict with. He should also talk about how he managed to resolve the difficulty peacefully and harmoniously and what he learned from the experience.
What he should say is how he and the other party resolved the issue in a way that was beneficial for the company he used to work for.
What were the best things about working for your previous employer?
His response should include things that match up to the job he’s interviewing for.
For example, if he previously worked for a mom-and-pop outfit and your company is a huge conglomerate, he shouldn’t say he loved the laid-back ambiance of his old job. That’s because the atmosphere in your company is probably far removed from anything like this.
There should be congruence between what he liked at his old company and the conditions at your organization. This will help to make sure he's a good fit.
What things about your old job did you hate?
If your interviewee goes on at length about negative things, don’t hire the guy.
A good answer would start with him saying what he enjoyed about working for his old employer. Then, he can launch into the things he didn’t like. However, what he says shouldn’t sound like a rebuke of the company.
An acceptable response is if the candidate frames his dislike as a matter of his skills not being utilized in the way they were meant to be.
Why do you want to work for us?
Answering this question allows your interviewee to show he did his homework by researching the company beforehand.
He should be able to discuss the organization's culture and history, and what about it inspires him to become your latest team member. See if you can get him to talk about how his skills make him uniquely qualified to contribute meaningfully to your corporate mission.
His answers need to show that he knows the company inside out and that he only interviews for companies that have exceptionally high standards.
This unequivocally tells you that he has high standards too, which you want to see in a job applicant.
Why should we hire you?
The only thing your applicant should say here is all the concrete benefits your company will enjoy by hiring him.
He shouldn’t brag too much as he does this. After all, you’re not hiring him to do him a favor.
For example, say he has a demonstrated prowess in a specific skill that makes him invaluable as a programmer. In that case, have him talk about how he’ll use that prowess to help your company.
What are some unique interview questions?
The following questions are practically guaranteed to be ones that interviewees have never heard before:
When I speak to your last boss, what is he or she going to say about you?
By asking this question, you’ll let your prospective employee know you’re serious about conducting reference checks.
You’ll also find out how self-aware your candidate is.
If he says “I don’t know” or only offers up a glib answer, he’s probably lying.
What are some of the best perks you’ve ever had at a job?
Are the perks he mentions tangible or intangible?
By asking this question, you’ll find out what motivates a candidate.
If you were the interviewer and I was the interviewee, what would you want to know about me?
By putting this query to the applicant, you’ll find out what’s important to him.
How would you handle a situation where you’re sure your boss is wrong?
A question like this can tell you volumes about the candidate’s judgment.
Hopefully, he'll give you a straight answer and not just what he thinks you want to hear.
What are three negative personal qualities that someone close to you would say you possess?
This question is a variation of “What is your greatest weakness?”, and will reveal how comfortable the candidate is disclosing his faults.
What are the three types of interview questions?
Here are the three types of interview questions:
Situation-based interview questions are designed to take your applicant’s skills out of the realm of the hypothetical by asking him how he would respond to real-life scenarios.
This way, he won’t offer up canned responses, and you get to see how your future employer thinks on his feet. See if you can get him to answer in a way that showcases his ability to solve problems.
Here’s an example of a situation-based question: “You know a co-worker has committed a grave error in judgment resulting in negative consequences for the company. However, you’re the only one who knows about it. What should you do?”
This query will show the ability of your applicant to solve problems in ethical and productive ways.
Competency-based questions are interview questions that require candidates to provide real-life examples that demonstrate a competency they’ll need to be considered for the position.
For example, you might ask your candidate about ways he used his analytical ability in a previous role to solve a problem. Questions like these might appear to be situational, but they're not.
That’s because they’re not hypothetical.
They’re based on real-life situations and are hyper-focused on specific competencies rather than general approaches to problems. A typical competency-based interview question is “Talk about how you helped a co-worker who was struggling. What skill did you demonstrate when you did this?”
His answer should show he has deep empathy for others and can work together for the common good. This is what’s known as a “competency,” which are the soft skills your employee needs to do the job.
Make sure he gives you specific examples where he showcased this skill.
Behavioral interview questions are designed to uncover how a candidate handled past situations. They often start off with the words, "Tell me about a time when you..."
These kinds of questions are based on the universal axiom that someone’s past behavior is the best predictor of their future performance.
Here’s an example: “Tell me about something that you tried in your previous job that didn’t work out as you planned. What lesson did you learn from the experience?”
See if your applicant is willing to learn from what worked and what didn't.
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