I recently stumbled on a NY Times article about the uselessness of the job interview. The article described a situation where an interview panel hired a candidate based on their misperceptions rather than the truth. While I disagree with the reporter’s views and the relevance of the research cited to job interviews, I agree that interviews are often based on subjective data rather than the truth about your candidates. Buried at the end of the article, the reporter attempted to give advice on how to conduct an effective job interview. It’s clear that the reporter is not an expert in recruiting and his amateur advice does more harm than good.
The good news is there is a way to conduct interviews that reveal the truth about your candidates. That’s why I’m sharing my irresistibly easy ways to learn the truth by using Insightful Interview™ questions.
Interviews are the single most important piece of the hiring process, yet it’s the one piece that most of us fail to do well. The most common mistake is failing to ask candidates questions that reveal their true attitudes, behaviors, and skills. Instead. We rely on traditional questions like those used in the NY Times article—tell me about yourself, what are your strengths and weaknesses, or where do you see yourself in five years? Those questions are a waste of time for you and your candidate.
Because these interview questions have been used forever, savvy candidates have researched the “correct” answers and have learned to tell us what we want to hear. We think we’ve outsmarted candidates by asking behavioral-based questions like tell me about a time when you solved a problem. Sounds better, but is it?
No, it’s even worse because we’ve told our candidate we want to hear about success. But what about all the times they didn’t try to solve the problem? What about the times they failed?
Candidates have a single goal: to persuade you to hire them. To achieve their goal, they will tell you what they think you want to hear. Applicants try their best to avoid alienating you or causing you to pass them over in favor of someone else.
Your goal is to learn the truth about how the candidate will fit your team and perform on the job. This requires strategic thinking about the information necessary to make an informed decision. The most powerful recruiting tool I know is getting answers from candidates that reveal the truth about how they will perform on the job. That’s the purpose of Insightful Interview™ questions.
Here are five tips to get you started:
1.Make sure the question is one you can legally ask in an interview.
According to a CareerBuilderTM survey, one in five employers asks an illegal interview question. These include questions related to legally protected classes like race, age, gender, and so forth.
2.Make sure you understand what you want to learn from the candidate’s answer.
Asking a question because you found it on a list of great questions may fail to elicit the information you need to make a decision. Your questions need to have a purpose: to discover how the candidate will perform for you on the job.
3.Define what a right answer looks like and what a wrong answer looks like.
Interviewers often ask questions without knowing how to decide if the answer is a good one. Create a chart of your critical behaviors and define those behaviors for high performers and low performers. Use those definitions of the skills, knowledge, and behaviors of both successful and unsuccessful candidates to identify whether your potential candidates are the right fit.
4.Look beyond the words to determine meaning.
Words mean different things to different people. Use follow-up questions to make sure you understand what your candidate means. Assuming the candidate shares your definition of words can be a mistake. For example, your definition of dedication might mean working long hours to complete a task and a candidate’s definition might be finding someone else to finish his work.
5.Pay attention to nonverbal clues.
An answer to a question is more than the words spoken. Watch facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language to make sure it matches the words. People generally see what they look for and hear what they listen for. When you interview people for your business, look and listen for what you want and don’t want from your candidates. Communication has many aspects and you want to factor in each of them.
Ready to take the next steps to learn the truth about your candidates? Here are some ideas: