It can be easy to just go through the motions when conducting a job interview. The candidate talks about their work history. The interviewer asks about strengths and weaknesses. And the interview ends and the hiring team makes a decision. It’s too often based on information that was already known about the candidate and not anything new learned in the interview.
If you’ve fallen into an interviewing rut, you can try these tactics to get a deeper insight into the candidates you meet with.
The purpose of a job interview is to get to know a candidate and learn about their skills and background. But candidates are willing to be an open book in the interview room so it can be beneficial to ask some extreme questions to learn about their thoughts and motivations.
We certainly do this when we ask about career goals and how a candidate got into their line of work. But telling a candidate they’re the hypothetical CEO and asking for their vision can be very insightful.
By doing this, you’ll discover what big ideas they have. You might even find someone who is cut out to be a great leader. This question also helps you learn how much the candidate really knows about your company. If they give a detailed response, you’ll be able to tell they did their homework.
Asking a candidate for their thoughts on work your company has done is a common way to assess a candidate. But does it really tell you much about them? You likely get positive feedback with a few gentle critiques.
Why not throw the candidate a curveball and ask them to review something bad or outright wrong your company has done? Let’s be honest, growing companies make mistakes and hiring often means your company is trying to improve in a certain area.
Look for candid feedback from the candidate. It’s a good sign if they can tell you how they would improve on your company’s previous efforts without being overly critically. It shows the candidate knows their stuff and will be a solid team member.
One of the reasons we do interviews is to get to know candidates and determine if they’ll be a positive addition to the team. It’s important to find out if someone is a jerk before it’s too late.
But candidates are on their best behavior during job interviews so it can be hard to see true colors. Try observing how they interact with people who aren’t interviewing them. Do they exchange pleasantries with the office manager who greets them? Do they treat others around your office the same way they treat you? Try to figure out if the personality they bring to the interview is authentic or just for show.
The modern business world is all about data. We keep a close eye on important metrics to ensure every process is firing at full speed.
Recruiters should use metrics too but be careful not to overvalue them. Hiring is about finding the right person to join your team so it’s often best to focus on factors that actually show someone cares about doing quality work. Are they continuing to learn new skills and keep up with developments in their profession? Do they blog or participate in social media conversations around what they do?
Interviews questions should definitely focus on skills and experience. But finding a candidate who is particularly passionate about their line of work can be a game changer for your team.
A family member of mine was once asked the “why are pothole covers round” question while interviewing for a sales position at a cell phone store. We can only speculate on the interviewer’s motivation for asking such a random question but there’s a good chance he heard somewhere it was challenging interview question and decided to throw it out there.
That particular question, and others like it, are meant to reveal a candidate’s ability to identify and solve problems. But these off-the-wall critical thinking questions should only be asked if you’re attempting to uncover certain personality traits that will translate to success in the role. For example, a product designer I used to work with told me he was once asked, “How would you design a control panel for an elevator that goes to unlimited floors.” That’s a great question to ask someone who strives to make products easy for users.
The goal of hiring is always to find the best person for the job. That means you should keep asking your tried-and-true interview questions but try mixing in some new ones that can bring out interesting responses.
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