How would you answer the following three questions about the last employee you hired?
For the complete cnbc.com article, click here.
Even if you are fully staffed, it’s imperative that you block out 60 – 90 minutes a week to interview. It’s the only way to build the bench strength needed to be able to replace departing, mediocre employees with A-players.
I recently read an online article with this advice to all job-seekers preparing for an interview…
“If the prospective employer doesn’t give you a chance to ask questions, at the end of the interview, ask if you may ask one question. That question is: ‘Imagine you hire me and it is six months down the road and you have already promoted me. What have I done to deserve the promotion?’ This gets them seeing you as being already successful in the position.”
Here’s my spin on it for employers…
The interview has gone well and you’re close to making an offer of employment; this is your chance to find out what you can do to manage your new hire the way they want to be managed thus enhancing engagement and boosting retention:
“Imagine I make you an offer and you accept the position with us and it is six months down the road and you feel just as enthusiastic and eager as your first day on the job. What has happened to make you feel this way?”
You’ll never “find” time to recruit and interview so you’ll have to make time. Even if you’re fully staffed, you need to set aside two hours a week for these activities. If no one shows for their interviews, hooray! Now you’ve got two hours to do those important things that keep getting pushed aside in favor of the urgent things.
How questions are all well and good if you’d like to find out about a person’s training and experience. For instance, “How did you learn to do that?” or “How would you go about doing this?”
However, if you’d like to learn more about how the applicant thinks and, therefore, whether or not the person is a good fit for the job, ask: “Why did you learn to do that?” and “Why would you do it that way?”
The original kind of lazy avoids hard physical work. Too lazy to dig a ditch, organize a warehouse or clean the garage.
Modern lazy avoids emotional labor. This is the laziness of not raising your hand to ask the key question, not caring about those in need or not digging in to ship something that might not work. Lazy is having an argument instead of a thoughtful conversation. Lazy is waiting until the last minute. And lazy is avoiding what we fear.
To find out if an applicant has a tendency towards laziness, ask this interview question: “What’s the hardest job you’ve ever had?” Then say: “Tell me why you found that job to be hard.”
Although impolite, rude, and bullying social media behavior grab the headlines, ours is still a basically polite society. That’s why most of us rely on our pre-employment paperwork to ask job applicants the tough questions about drugs and honesty. Then we compound that mistake by thinking we’ll find out about dependability and safety when we do our reference checks. (If we, in fact, take the time to do them at all.)
However, it’s by far harder to lie or deceive in person than on paper. So, if you really want to make the best possible hiring decisions, brace yourself and ask during the interview:
I’ve also found that the applicants who ask me the hardest questions turn out to be the best employees because we’ve both dug deep enough to get the most important information and come to a mutually good decision. These questions include:
To get a good read on a job applicant’s attitude toward taking responsibility, ask: “What do you think accounts for your success so far?” After the person answers, ask the more important, follow up question: “What’s kept you from being even more successful?” The person will either take personal responsibility or blame some circumstance or person.
The sneaky thing about biases is that, for the most part, we’re unaware we hold them. To wit, “I am not prejudiced and I hate people who are.”
One way this undermines your judgement in the hiring process is what I call the “comparison bias.” If the last person you interviewed was an unmitigated disaster, the next interviewee is bound to look fantastic by comparison. And, vice versa, of course. An above-average applicant won’t look as promising when compared to the superstar you just interviewed.
“In the past five years, what is something that has happened to you that you had absolutely no control over and how did you deal with it?” (While a person may not have any control over an event, they do have control over how they deal with/respond to it.)
With unemployment at a 10 year low, now is the time to interview even those applicants you don’t think you’d hire. Here’s why:
P.S. DON’T FORGET: Hire Tough; Manage Easy!
What better interview questions to ask a job applicant than those about the criteria employees are actually evaluated against when it’s time for an annual performance review? And what better way to evaluate a job applicant than against that same criteria? Here are two examples of how you might take a performance review metric and turn it into an interview question or use it as an evaluation tool.
Performance Review Item: Communications Skills
Interview Question: Tell me about a time you convinced a boss or a coworker to undertake a new project or do something another way.
Job Applicant Rating: On a scale of 1-10, how well did the applicant communicate ideas and experiences?
Performance Review Item: Meeting Goals & Objectives
Interview Question: On a scale of 1 – 10, on your last job, how successful were you when it came to meeting you weekly and/or monthly goals? What would it have taken for you to be able to give yourself a higher number?
Job Applicant Rating: On a scale of 1 – 10, was the applicant on time, dressed properly, and well-prepared?
When was the last time you interviewed for a job and why is this important?
If you are responsible for applicant interviews and employee selection and have not been on the applicant’s side of the desk in the last few years, it is time for a refresher course in how it feels. It’s the one way you can authentically project the empathy, consideration, and respect that will attract the best and brightest applicants to your organization.
Here are some suggestions as to how you might go about it:
Take a look below at the telephone pre-screen one of my clients uses for frontline, hourly employees. Now, if you were the applicant and someone called you, asked you all those questions, and then you were invited you to come in for a personal interview, how would you figure out if it would be worth your time and effort to go?
The main reason most applicants do make the appointment, but end up being no shows, is because that way they leave the door open in case they don’t find anything better in the meantime. (Surely you don’t think that, once they agree to your interview, they quit looking for a job.)
To minimize this frustration, ask them what other jobs they are considering and add a brief sales pitch for the job and the company to your question set.
If you think the job applicant’s answer to your interview question is not a good answer, maybe you’re not asking the best way. For example, a common question is: “Why do you want to work for us?” Most interviewers think: “Because I need a job,” is a “bad” answer, but you can get better information if you follow up with: “Why do you need a job?”
You could also turn it into a test and say: “If you are really interested in working for us, go home and figure out why and then give me a call and we’ll see if we can set up another interview.”
“People have a propensity to meet our expectations. Make sure you inform the applicant that you expect the truth. When you do this, you change most applicants’ mindset. Now, instead of telling you what they think you want to hear, they will tell you what you’ve said you want to hear – the truth. We’ve found that when you tell applicants you want them to be honest, 90 percent will be more honest in the interview than they had planned to be. (The other 10 percent may still lie to you, but that’s why we do reference and background checks.)”
Inc. magazine recently published an article entitled: The 27 Most Common Job Interview Questions and Answers. This is just one example of the over 29,000,000 results jobseekers get with a Google search for this kind of information.
One way to elicit more honest answers from your job applicants would be to elaborate on the standard query: “How did you prepare for this interview?” Once the interviewee tells you all about reviewing the company website or their experience as a customer, then ask: “What did you do to prepare your answers to the interview questions you thought I might ask?”