May 2011  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

Preparing Effective Interview Questions

Has it fallen to you to interview applicants for a vacant position? If so, you’ll need to prepare questions ahead of time—questions that elicit responses useful for evaluating an interviewee’s suitability for the job. Here are some tips for developing effective questions.

  • Avoid yes/no questions. Phrase your questions, instead, to require thoughtful answers that reveal applicants’ qualities and abilities.
  • Don’t ask: Do you think you can handle the job?
    Ask: What qualities would make you effective in this position?

  • Introduce hypothetical situations. Ask applicants to describe how they would handle a challenging job scenario, preferably one that is common to the position they are applying for.
  • Allow applicants to express expectations. Ask what they hope the job will provide in terms of benefits and future promotions.
  • Discuss the applicants’ education and experience. Ask about their training, how they applied that training in previous positions, and what they learned as a result. In the 21st century, the best employees are those who realize they must be lifelong learners, adapting as business adapts.
  • Stick to appropriate subjects. Remember, you are prohibited by law and propriety from asking about age, personal plans (such as home buying or having children), religion, and racial or ethnic background. You may ask about security clearance and organizational affiliation if those are relevant to the job.

With these tips in mind, your interviews with prospective employees will be useful and informative.

For professional business-writing tips, see Write for Business: A Compact Guide to Writing and Communicating in the Workplace—just one of the handy business-writing materials from UpWrite Press.

Teacher Tips

Last month we talked about the presentation training style. This month, let’s look at the hands-on in-service event in which trainees participate in small-group or one-on-one sessions. The following techniques have proven helpful for this activity-based training.

  • Group projects. Participants are assigned to teams in order to solve a given problem. Afterward, a representative from each team presents their work to the greater group. With this technique, workers develop interpersonal skills as they learn the strengths and weaknesses of their colleagues.
  • Simulations. Hypothetical situations are presented in which participants must solve problems or manage others, improvising as though the situation were real. This technique promotes and tests critical thinking and management skills.
  • Case studies. Participants are presented with actual situations and their outcomes. After examining how the situation was handled, they discuss other possible ways of dealing with the scenario. This technique practices analytical skills.
  • Role playing. Participants are given roles to play in a scene and asked to work toward a specific outcome, using whatever means occur to them. This technique develops interpersonal sensitivity.

That Little Extra

Do you work in a typical cubicle? Give your workplace environment a boost with something natural, something green and growing. Studies show that offices with abundant greenery see a lower absentee rate and a higher office morale. As an added bonus, live plants absorb many of the toxins in the air to make your environment healthier. Try a spider plant or jade plant (Crassula) to lift your spirits during the workday. No windows? Don’t worry. Many plants easily adapt to office light.


May Writers' Forum Topic

Here’s your chance to tell us how your work environment operates. Send us your responses to the forum question below, and we’ll print the most interesting in our eTips Mid-Month Mini.

We recently celebrated yet another Earth Day, a time to consider the natural state of the world and what we can do to preserve it—and us. “Green” is increasingly important in business. What does your office do to be more earth friendly?

E-mail your response to Write “May Writers’ Forum” in the subject line, and you could see your reply in the eTips Mid-Month Mini.

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This is your chance to be part of the UpWrite Press newsletters and blogs. What writing topics do you want to hear about? Have you any favorite communications tips you‘d like to share? What words do you constantly mix up? Send us your ideas and you could see your name in Writing eTips or the Mid-Month Mini.

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Teaming It: Working with Others

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