Need a good interview question

We're interviewing a friend of an employee today. The friend says the interviewee could be a good candidate for the job, but "is a talker." The hiring manager wants to ask a question that might help to indicate how well the applicant will balance socializing with working. Any thoughts on what he might ask?


  • 13 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • What do you do when there is nothing to do?
    Give me some examples of how you see your role in the company?
    What kind of people do you find difficult to work with?
    What would your previous employer tell me about your work ethic?
    How do you like being managed (or what traits do you like to see in your supervisor)?
    How do you prevent over socializing on the job?

  • How important do you think socializing between employees is to the workplace?

    If you had a manager who told your department that he/she didn't want to hear any talking, socializing or other non business related interactions between employees during work hours, how would you react?

    If given the chance to be seen as (A) the employee who talks to everyone and is friends with everyone but doesn't necessarily have the respect of their peers or (B) the employee who is cold and uncommunicative but is an exemplary worker, which would you choose? Why?
  • Dasher and NeedCoffee gave some good examples. I like to use the "behavioral interviewing" trick to force real answers from them based on actual experience, as opposed to them telling you what they might do in a given situation...

    "At ABC company, it's critical that we keep the production line moving and quality high (or whatever) and socializing really needs to be kept to a minimum to achieve this.

    Tell me about one of your previous jobs where chitchat was not allowed. What did you enjoy most about that job? What did you dislike?

    How'd that turn out for you?"

  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 10-13-07 AT 08:54PM (CST)[/font][br][br]I don't think you will really need a question at all. Just create a long enough interview so the applicant can get comfortable and lose his or her self-consciousness.

    Take the applicant around the office. Drop him off with another employee for about 30 minutes. Or take the applicant out for coffee.

    Talkers (and I know because I generally am one) are talkers and once comfortable they will show their stripes. You will probably also get a sense of how "appropriate" they are in their conversation.

    To be honest though, being a talker or enjoying socializing doesn't mean that the person can't get work done or can't balance work with social interaction.

    Being a talker doesn't mean they over-socialize. I know talkers who are incredibly productive.

    You could use a behavioral question to examine if they understand when its time to talk and when its time to work but I think their work references and their history of promotion/increase in responsibility is a better indicator of that.

  • Well, there are talkers and then there are people you avoid engaging with b/c you know you won't be able to get away once it starts. In my experience, your employee probably wouldn't have mentioned it unless he/she thought it is a problem.

    I agree that the interview itself will probably give you the information you need...does the candidate ramble on and on? Does the candidate interrupt the interviewer?
  • We have had a few employees that tend to have longer conversations than necessary. One of them was a maintenance person who was great in every other aspect of his job but he was almost incapable of a brief conversation.

    I have a hard time imagining just how that would come out in an interview where the whole point is to converse.

    This issue was brought up by his manager several times and did improve a little.

    My guess is the motivation for these kinds of talkers is to have social contact and affirmation. For them, the goal of interacting with others takes precedent over the goal of getting things done.

    I think that is a tough thing to expose in an interview. An honest work reference is your best shot.
  • Kdspa,

    So how did you resolve this? The suspense is killing me.
  • I forwarded some of your suggested questions to the team doing the interview. This morning I followed up to find out how that particular issue (addressing the socializing) went. Here's what the supervisor said in an email:

    "I asked this question: What percentage of time should coworkers spend socializing?

    Response was (paraphrasing): An amount that doesn't prevent either person from getting their work done.

    I thought she had answered that question well. There was recognition socializing may impact her ability to get her work done AND the other person's ability to get their work done."

    Thanks, as usual, for your help everyone!!
  • I'm late on this one -- been gone.

    How about a question like this--

    Tell me about the last two personal conversations you initiated in the workplace. Whom did you talk to and what did you divulge?

    MMMMM -- maybe that's going too far?
  • Check out this question I read in an otherwise good article about interviewing:

    "Tell me the worst thing you ever did?"

    Huh? I dont want to know that! Would any of you ask that question?

  • I would never ever ever ask that question. What benefit is there to knowing the answer? How in the world would that relate to their qualifications for any position (unless they're applying to be a secret agent!)? And if applicants are truly honest, I DEFINTELY don't want to know the answer!

    Glad the rest of the article had some redeeming qualities...
  • Actually the article was one of the best articles I have read on general interviewing. It was just that one question I didnt like.

    I assume everyone has done a few things that they regret and wish to never speak of.

    Especially the baby boomers.
  • What I find particularly frustrating is when I stick to questions about the functions of the job, etc., and the candidate continually brings their personal life/information into it....It never ceases to amaze me what people are willing to I would NEVER ask that particular question! I could be stuck in that interview room for DAYS!
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