Good sift questions test for what candidates will actually be doing on the job. This is why our process uses scenario-based questions, focused on testing for specific skills and values. Candidates are assessed on their thought processes, their understanding of what is expected for the role, and their style of working.
You can ask as many sift questions many as you like, but we recommend 3-5. Fewer, and you might miss out on an important dimension of the role. More and you’re raising the barrier to entry for candidates at the very first stage.
Candidate answers are limited to 250 word answers.
A good sift question:
- Tests for specific skills, relevant to the role
Once you’ve chosen the skills and values your ideal candidate has, you can target these and cut out the noise.
E.g. Tell me about something you’re passionate about (it doesn’t have to be work-related), and convince me as to why I should try it?
Skills tested: persuasiveness, communication
- Is scenario based, not experience based
This means testing candidates on their responses to a situation now, rather than quizzing them on their past experiences. Why is this important? Because many skills are transferable across roles and industries. Having candidates reflect on how they would respond to a challenge now opens your role out to fresh talent, and those from non-typical backgrounds.
E.g. Your Director has just notified you that he needs to go to America in 2 weeks’ time to attend a conference. She has sent you the conference itinerary, the organiser’s contact details, and the dates she would like to fly out and return. What steps do you take to make your Director has everything in place for her trip?
- Focuses on challenges that your organisation is facing now!
Showing candidates the challenges you’re facing right now gives you a real sense for what they could do for you. It gives them more context for how your organisation works, and for the person you hire, it preps them for their role, even before onboarding.
E.g. We are delivering a large report to be jointly written by us and another organisation. You are responsible for the report. Please describe how you would coordinate with the other organisation and our client to ensure the report is delivered to the required standard in an efficient manner.
You can check out the question library for examples of sift questions others have asked. If anything in this article piques your interest or isn’t clear, don’t hesitate to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org, where a member of our team will be on hand to give you support.