Testing for Maturity in Job Interviews


Maturity is an important factor when evaluating a potential employee for a role. It’s particularly essential when evaluating remote workers. Testing for maturity goes beyond just observing someone’s behaviour, though. It’s more than the traditional sense of “being an adult.” An interview is a great time to conduct this test.

Here’s a helpful guide for non-HR pros to help you evaluate maturity of prospects. Asking questions around these general topics should help you see if someone is mature enough for the role and the company culture.

1. Start with casual conversation

Targeted small talk at the beginning of an interview can be a good test of maturity of a candidate. Try starting by asking seeming unrelated to the interview questions that help establish whether they’re financially responsible (a strong sign of maturity).

  • For example, if they say they got to the interview by driving, ask if it’s their car and how they paid for it. This gives you an insight into how they manage their finances and save for things, both of which are important signs of maturity.
  • Another good interview starter is to ask how they paid for things during their degree – that is, did their parents pay for everything vs working to support themselves.
  • If neither of those topics is appropriate for your interview situation, ask what’s the most expensive thing they have purchased and how they saved for it.

2. Establish their decision-making ability

Some good questions to ask the interviewee:

  • How do you generally make decisions?
  • What is the most important decision you have made recently?
  • If you were to start a career over, what would you do differently?
  • If you were given several important tasks to accomplish, how would you go about prioritizing them?
  • Describe a difficult decision you had to make. How did you go about it?

3. Present them with controversy

Ask the candidate to speak about something controversial – like “your manager asks you to go and give a bribe…” Does the candidate just talk about ethics and how honest he/she is or also talks about a pragmatic way of getting out of that situation tactfully?

4. See how they are at handling complexity

Ask a difficult, tricky question alongside an easy one. Check which question is the candidate more comfortable answering.

5. Test for self awareness

Ask the candidate to describe their biggest weakness and biggest strength. Sure, everyone preps for these two questions, but they can be quite revealing as to what people think of themselves and how they present that to a third party.

6. See if they care about self development

  • Ask the candidate to describe their personal and professional growth through the jobs or roles they have done so far. Is the answer mainly self-praise or does it reveal a genuine quest for improvement and development?
  • Ask them what personal goals have you set for yourself?

7. Operating Outside the Comfort Zone

Ask the candidate to describe one example of what he/she has done something outside his/her comfort zone. How did they feel about this?

After the interview, ask yourself what percentage of the candidate’s responses was canned/superficial/jargon and what percentage was substantive/forthright. It should be quite clear at that point whether the candidate meets a level of maturity you require. If you need another reference point, ask the candidate’s references if they consider the candidate to be a mature one. Don’t elaborate or define maturity. Let them respond in their own way.

Source: Management Development Blog

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Magda Walczak

Magda Walczak is the Chief Customer Officer at Search Party, the world's first marketplace that connects employers, recruiters and job seekers. She's a passionate supporter of animal rights and author of Saylor's Tale, a children's book promoting responsible pet ownership.

3 thoughts on “Testing for Maturity in Job Interviews

  1. Mikki Detjen says: August 29, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    Thanks, I know how challenging it can be to start your own company. I created my own 3 ago and appreciate this information. Keep up the amazing content and I can’t wait to check back.

  2. Abdul Jawad says: November 16, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    I am gonna interview some shortly and this is a big help.

    1. Emma Hart says: November 17, 2016 at 10:11 am

      Awesome Abdul. Hope it goes well!

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