At best, a job interview is a forced conversation between a hiring manager and job candidate. At its worst, an interview is a contrived Q&A session made up of memorised responses to the same age-old questions asked in every job interview. An interview process that actually leads to finding a great candidate stops the interrogation tactics and starts a process of discovery.
Outdated interview questions need to stop in order to truly determine if a candidate will be a great fit for your company. Better interview questions can establish the truth of someone’s past experiences, future potential, and ability to enhance your company culture. Utilising better questions that foster critical thinking leads to better hiring decisions that help your company’s long term results. Done well, interviewing is both a science and an art.
Do your Homework before the Interview
Hiring managers should start the interview process by setting a foundation of qualifications the ideal candidate will possess. Even though HR may have a strong and clear understanding of the job description, managers may be surprised to discover some hidden qualifications during a brainstorm session that will reveal more about the ideal employee.
How might we best define an ideal candidate?
These qualifications can also be used as a sounding board when HR managers quantify the responses of each interviewee. Realistically, you’re not seeking a perfect fit, but clearly defined qualifications help you to ascertain truly excellent candidates.
Assess Learning Agility
Skills consistently predict job success. While past performance is an indicator of future success; most interviewers go sideways, however, spending too much time asking candidates about past achievements. It’s important to know that there has been prior success, but more importantly, an interviewer needs to hear about a candidate’s learning agility, i.e. what the candidate learned along the way and how they will apply their skills and knowledge to the company’s current and future challenges.
What is some of the most constructive criticism you received early on in your career, and how has that feedback helped you grow?
Tell me about your most successful accomplishment leading a cross-functional team on a major project or initiative. What did you learn about team dynamics that would cause you to do things differently going forward?
If a job candidates pretends previous projects went perfectly, dismiss learning anything from their prior experiences, or if criticism from their early days sounds trite, it is a red flag for their being open to constructive feedback, future coaching and their own willingness to grow.
Ask a Candidate to Think
People prepare for interviews. They hire resume writers or interview coaches and they search online for pre-scripted answers that they can spit out without thinking. Stop the brainless interaction by asking questions that are creative and can have more than one right answer. These questions create an opportunity for you to hear the wheels turning in their heads.
Your biography is published posthumously. What is on page 213 of this 300 page book?
You receive 3 phone messages when you get back from a meeting. One is from your spouse, the second is from your boss and the third is from your biggest client. All say urgent. In what order do you respond and why?
Original questions require original answers. There is no one correct response to the questions above, but there is a well-articulated, meaningful response that explains perspective, values and who this candidate is as an individual, and if they fit your organisation.
Interviewing techniques that seek to trip-up or fluster may be clever, but they won’t lead to great hires. Interview questions that emphasise discovery and dialogue lead to faster and greater understanding and insight, which leads to brilliant new team members.