Avoid The Standard Job Interview
Use these basic principles to avoid the common pitfalls of the interview.
A typical job interview is little more than a social call with some predictable choreography. A conference-room meeting, a pristine résumé and the standard questions: Where do you want to be in five years? What do you consider your biggest failure? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Add in some small talk maybe the candidate and the interviewer have something in common, like an alma mater or an acquaintance from an earlier job and thats largely it. The candidate seems good, and the references check out. So an offer is made, and fingers are crossed that everything works out.
Then, a month later, the new hire misses an important deadline or starts complaining about the work. Cue that sinking feeling: You start wondering if hiring this person was a mistake.
Of course theres a better way. Here are three principles that can help you hire the right person:
How Are You Different From Other Candidates
Chances are most candidates being interviewed have very comparable qualifications, so this question is really just a variation on âwhy should we hire you?â You approach to answering it should be the same: highlight your skills and explain how you will bring value to the company. Highlighting certifications or interdisciplinary skills that arenât the norm in your industry is a good strategy here â just make sure you explain how they make you better suited to the job.
Talk Me Through A Bad Professional Relationship You’ve Had Why Didn’t It Work
Everyone has had a boss that got on their nerves or a colleague that irritated them. Offices are high pressure environments, and emotions often boil over.
Ask this question to understand the root cause of the bad relationship. What was the bad feeling based in? Did the candidate work to overcome the issue and recover the relationship?
Most candidates are hesitant to badmouth their bosses and colleagues, so this question always prompts a few interesting answers.
Watch out for weaker candidates who will cite problems like being passed over for a promotion or blame for project failure as the reasons for bad relationships. This is kind of blame culture is not something that you want in your organisation.
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What Have Been Your Most Positive And Negative Management Experiences
Employers might ask you this question to understand what you like and dislike in certain management styles. This might help them decide whether or not you would be a good fit under a certain manager. You should answer this question honestly and as tactfully as possible.
Example:One of my past managers, while very talented, tended to manage our teams work closely with little flexibility on how things were to be done. It made me feel like I wasnt trusted and there wasnt much room for process improvement. My most recent manager was terrific at listening to my needs and helping me get the resources I needed to achieve my goals. I thrive under managers who create a collaborative, trusting team environment.
Do You Like Working With A Team Or Working Alone
This really depends on what opening the job seekers are applying for. Is it a desk job that only requires them to be by themselves self or is it work that demands coordination and communication with others?
If you analyze that the applicants are people who are flexible, willing to do multi-tasking, and wouldnt be bothered if at times they work alone or with a team, these could be the best professionals to hire.
This question has more importance at this time due to the current remote working environment.
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How Do You Keep Yourself Motivated When People Are Being Mean To You
Unfortunately, customer service jobs can involve a lot of encounters with people who are unhappyand being quite vocal about itwhich can result in a less-than-pleasant experience for you. Bell likes to ask this question to people who are new to customer service to see if candidates have thought about this aspect of the roleand figured out if its something theyll be able to handle.
Understand Your Role In The Interview
How to conduct an interview well will always lie in your ability to avoid common hiring mistakes and to assess potential talent in the interview process. But keep in mind that more new hires fail due to personality-culture mismatch than technical skills mismatch. Thats why you need to keep a keen eye out for compatible styles in terms of communication, pace, constructive criticism, and work hour commitments in candidates responses.
When youre figuring out how to interview a candidate, make sure you have a good balance between interviewing and educating. Follow the 80-20 paradigm, so that the candidate speaks for 80% of the time at the beginning of the interview, and you speak for 20% of the time after youve completed your initial round of interview question.
During your education period, always be willing to offer a good amount of career advice and direction. After all, every relationship gives us an opportunity to share our wealth of knowledge and experience with others: If you see the interview as an opportunity to give a gift to someone else whether you hire them or not youll find that the communication becomes a lot more natural and enjoyable.
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How To Structure Your Interviews
Structured interviews are effective methods of predicting job performance. Their three main characteristics are:
- You ask all candidates the same questions.
- You ask questions in the same order.
- You evaluate answers based on standardized rating scales.
The first two characteristics are easy, yet critical for success. If you ask different questions of each candidate, its impossible to objectively compare their answers. This will result in you trying to make a hiring decision on your gut feeling which potentially leads to harmful biases and discrimination.
So, when you decide which interview questions to ask, spend some time putting them in order. To do this, use the format of an interview scorecard its possible your applicant tracking system has a function to help you build scorecards and share them with your team.
The third characteristic of a structured interview the rating scales is immensely helpful in ensuring youll hire objectively. You create a scale and then you evaluate candidates answers with that scale. To do this right, define what exactly each item on the scale means.
Alternatively, you could use a simpler scale, such as Yes, No and Definitely
What Do You Look For In A Boss
When an interviewer asks this question, theyâre probably trying to gauge how youâll fit in with the company culture and current leaders. The best path? Be honest without getting too specific you never know what type of leaders youâll be working with. Stick with traits that are universally positive such as fairness, good listener, capable, intelligent, etc. Most managers like to think they embody these traits, so thereâs no risk of alienating your potential boss.
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Why Are You Leaving Your Current Position
This is valuable information for employers to understand. It helps them ensure the opening will be a better fit, make sure they can provide for what your previous employer did not or see if you might have contributed to a negative experience for both you and the employer. Answer this question honestly, but refrain from providing too much personal or negative detail.
Example:While I highly valued my time at my previous company, there are no longer many opportunities for growth that align with my career goals. This position aligns perfectly with my skill set and how Im looking to advance my career.
What Isnt On Your Resum
What isnt on your resumé that is important for me to know?
My favorite question for interviewees: What isnt on your resumé that you feel is important for me to know?
The goal here is to find any synergies that might be overlooked if a candidate has tailored their resumé to the position. For a smaller company, this can be incredibly helpful because you might need generalists to help the company grow at first. I asked this during our most recent round of hiring, and it provided extraordinarily helpful information on two occasions.
One candidate pointed out that they had a passion for video editing and had been practicing on their own for the past several months. While this wasnt directly related to the position, the management team had recently expressed interest in expanding our video marketing capabilities, and that skill could be very valuable to the team. Another candidate prefaced their response with I know this is going to sound cliché, but and described that they were a hard worker. They were right it did sound cliché at first, but after considering the tone of our interview up to that point , it left a lasting positive impression.
Tony Mastri Hiring Manager,
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What Would Your Former Colleagues Say About You If You Weren’t In The Room
Hopefully nice things! Everyone wants to be thought highly of by their friends, family and colleagues, but if a candidate has significant drive and ambition it’s possible that not everyone was her biggest fan at her last company.
Most candidates will probably answer this awkwardly, it’s an uncomfortable idea, but the best responses will be balanced. Something like: “my colleagues would probably say that I’m pretty passionate about my work but that I can occasionally overlook small details”.
If everything goes to plan, your new hire will be at your company for many years to come. With that in mind, you should ask a few interview questions that give you an idea of how candidates see their career evolving and how they handle strategic decisions.
What Is Your Teaching Philosophy
This isnt a question solely for those applying to teaching positions. Employers may ask this of anyone who might be leading or teaching others. Your response will allow employers to gauge your personal skills and if you would be a good culture add. A good answer will concisely identify what you think teaching should achieve and include concrete examples to illustrate your ideas.
Example answer:When it comes to managing people, my teaching philosophy is to start by asking questions that hopefully get the person to come to a new conclusion on their own. This way, they feel ownership over the learning rather than feeling micromanaged. For example, in my last role, I was editing an article written by a copywriter I managed. The story didnt have a clear focus or hook.
In a one-on-one meeting, I asked her what she thought was the main point of the article if she had to sum it up in a sentence. From there, I asked if she thought the focus was clear in the article. She didnt think it was clear and instead thought she should rework her introduction and conclusion. As a result, the article improved and my direct report learned a valuable writing lesson that she carried into her future work.
Read more: Interview Question: What is Your Teaching Philosophy?
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Preparing & Conducting Interviews
Being well prepared and then conducting an interview methodically will help you make the most of this important recruitment tool.
When interviewing job candidates, you want to determine what sort of people they are, how good their interpersonal skills are, how they might react under stress, whether they have the skills for the job, and whether they have been honest in their resumes.
What Interests You About This Job
With this interview question, your interviewer is trying to gauge a) your enthusiasm for the job and b) if you read and understood the job description. An answer that highlights a role or responsibility from the job description is a great way to go. If you blank and canât remember specifics of the job, an answer about âthe opportunity to put to useâ is always a safe bet.
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Build An Interview Structure
Before you start scheduling, create an interview structure. Essentially, you want to create an agenda for these meetings, which helps you know how to guide and streamline each interview process. You might start off with an introduction, followed by an overview of job duties, and a list of questions to ask each candidate. If applicable, you may want to ask the candidate to prepare a presentation or review a work sample with you.
Towards the end of the interview, explain key points of interest like salary, employee benefits, and company culture. You can end the meeting by explaining the next steps in the interview process and when the candidate can expect to know your decision.
How To Answer Tell Me About A Time When Interview Questions
Youve reviewed your resume, practiced your elevator pitch, checked out common behavioral interview questions, and reviewed a few stories you can share during the interview.
All is well, and youre feeling confident. And when the interviewer says, Tell me about a time you disagreed with your supervisor, you are ready to go and launch straight into a story about that one time you bravely confronted the director of marketing at your previous company about a new campaign you had a bad feeling about.
OK, so maybe that doesnt sound like youyet. Lets take a step back and talk about how you can get there.
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Where Do You See Yourself In The Next 5 Years
An ambitious professional with a clear set of goals for the short, medium, and long term, is an invaluable asset to the company. This is true especially if they parallel their career growth with the company they are interviewing at.
As they grow professionally and financially, the company grows and expands too.
During the interview, confident job seekers will discuss that they seek a company with upward mobility as they help the company prosper.
Emotional Intelligence Interview Questions
Emotional intelligence questions give you an idea of how a candidate will deal with the challenges of the role and insight into their self awareness. But if you ask someone about their strengths and weaknesses, theyll naturally focus on what theyre good at. Asking the questions below can give you a solid understanding of how someone will navigate the challenges the role presents.
- Do you believe its more important to work fast or get the job done right?
- If you had multiple projects and limited time, how would you go about managing your priorities?
- How do you think your previous managers/coworkers would describe working with you?
- How do you think your family and friends would describe you?
- How do you deal with different personalities in the workplace?
- How do you feel when someone criticizes your work?
- Who are your role models and mentors?
- Tell me about something you struggled with early in your career and how you overcame it.
- Your friends birthday is coming up. Tell me how you go about picking out a gift for them.
- What personal or professional mistakes have youve learned the most from?
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Ask The Right Questions
A major component of a successful job interview is knowing which questions to ask. There are several different types of interview questions you can use however, the specific questions you ask should be based on the job and the information you wish to learn about your candidate. The following are a few of the most common types of interview questions:
- Situational/hypothetical questions
Can You Describe How You Handle Tight Deadlines
Does your team frequently face challenging time constraints? Do you need someone who can work quickly and accurately while under pressure? Ask this interview question of a potential employee and youll at least get their opinion as to how they handle stress and whether they can keep up with the pace of work at your organization. You could also follow up by asking if theyve ever missed a deadline and, if so, how they handled the situation.
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Questions To Ask Employees During An Interview
When hiring a new employee, its important to ask the right questions.
There are some interview questions that are a given we all know how to put a good spin on the classic greatest weakness question. Its also expected that youll have potential employees review their job history and qualifications.
But how do you really dig into what makes someone tick as an employee, and how do you determine if theyll be a good fit for your businessnot only in terms of their skills, but also their personality, and as a part of your company culture?
To help you come up with the perfect list of interview questions to ask potential employees, Ive divided this list into five categories: personality questions, culture fit questions, background and work experience questions, work habits and working style questions, and career goal questions. Be sure to check out my article on How to Hire Your First Employee as well.
Pick and choose a handful that feel most applicable from each list, or ask them all . With a well-rounded list of interview questions, finding the perfect candidate for your open position should be no problem at all.