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To uncover strong work ethic in an interview, question you can ask include, “Can you describe a time when you went the extra mile at work?” “How do you define work ethic? What does it mean to you?” and more.

A candidate’s work ethic is one of the most important things you can uncover during the interview process. A strong work ethic speaks highly of a candidate’s productivity and that they have the drive necessary to complete tasks. You can hire a candidate with all the skills necessary to do the job, but if they don’t have a good work ethic, they simply won’t be a good quality employee. How can hiring teams spot a solid work ethic in a job candidate? Here are the right questions to ask.

Why Behavioral Questions Are Better

Behavioral questions are good ways to help illustrate work ethic because they ask the candidate to describe past activities. Interviewers should read between the lines of the stories the candidate shares to determine all kinds of soft skills, including the candidate’s desire and ability to work hard. Here are five behavioral questions to consider and what you’re looking for in the candidate response.

Question 1:   Describe a time when you went above and beyond at work.

In this interview question, you’re looking for a pattern of work behavior that shows the candidate is willing to go above and beyond their normal job duties. This behavioral question is phrased just vaguely enough so that the candidate must define what “above and beyond” means to them. If you hear that what the candidate accomplished was mediocre or not as “above and beyond” as you’d like, it’s a red flag that their work ethic isn’t necessarily the best.

Question 2:   When things slow down at work what do you do with your free time?

We would be shocked if the candidate told you they surf the Internet or play video games, but truthfully, you never know. Look for candidates who go back to double-check their work or offer to help others in the office when they have a few minutes to spare. Candidates with a good work ethic may even take the time to study for credentials they’re trying to achieve. All are good indicators of a strong work ethic.

Question 3:   What do you think makes for a good work ethic?

This is another vague question that will give you both a verbal and a gut feel for how hard this candidate really wants to work.

Question 4:   Tell me about a situation when you worked your hardest to achieve a goal?

Did the employee work overtime or pull off a goal with a team that was difficult to work with? The question allows the employee to define what they consider “hard work” and asks them for a specific story that illustrates their commitment to achieving a specific task or goal. How does this fit the culture the candidate will be stepping into?

Question 5:   When you have a lot of work to do, how do you get it all done?

This question could ferret out procrastinators and it could also reveal workaholics. Neither is ideal; workaholic’s burn out and procrastinators can miss deadlines. Look for candidates who illustrated how they worked smarter to achieve their goals as well as the ones that didn’t give up until they hit the numbers.

Work ethic remains difficult to discern, but employers view candidates that have it as highly coveted and valuable members of a team. IES helps employers find these candidates, screening them for cultural and job fit to save you time. Contact us to talk about our process and how we can help you meet your hiring goals in 2020.

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