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When it comes to interviewing, Tim Russert or Chris Matthews you are not...

Fortunately, when interviewing for open positions in your company, you don't have to be.  I was reminded of this when I was reading a past Workforce Recruiting article focused on how to maximize retention, by being a more effective/efficient recruiter.

The primary thoughts?  It ain't rocket science, behavioral interviewing is your best option, and don'tHardball_1 forget to figure out what type of culture jazzes your candidates.

Inside the Workforce Recruiting article, T-Mobile's featured as using behavioral interviewing to figure out the cultural "turn-on's" of candidates, using the specific question, "Tell me about the company's culture you are currently working with".

That's a good start, but not HARD enough.  You've got to make the candidate take a stand, so you can evaluate what makes them tick.  Here's how to make it better and grind on a candidate to get exactly what you need.

When it comes to the workplace, there's a lot of theory out there regarding the best way to interview candidates.  Whether it's a Behavioral Interview, a Skill-Based Interview or an interview filled with hypothetical questions, everyone's got a system.  Most hiring managers, in my experience, ask way too many hypothetical questions (examples - "How do you deal with low-performing employees?"), a style I'm critical of since it's so easy to BS your way through that type of interview.

The fact that hypothetical questions are easy to fake (No strengths?  Just make some up and sell it baby!) gave rise to the behavioral interview, which attempts to cut through the hype/spin by asking candidates about specific experiences they have ACTUALLY had. 

Unfortunately, the Behavioral Interview is only as good as the interviewer.  You can ask a behavioral question ("Tell me about a time you had to tell your boss they were wrong), but if the interviewee gives you hypothetical soft stuff back, you've got to have the ability to interrogate/grind on them about what they actually did when faced with that situation. 

In my experience, even those with a lot of in-house training are limited in their ability to grind on a candidate.  Feels too much like interrogation, and most of us hate confrontation.  That's a problem, because your miss rate (defined as the percentage of hires you make that don't work out because they weren't a fit for the job or your culture) goes way up as a result. 

What's my solution?  I'm a believer in the Behavioral Interview, but if I had only five minutes with a candidate, I'd ask them the following two questions:

-Tell me when you have been most satisfied in your career...

-Tell me when you have been least satisfied in your career...

Those two questions measure Motivational Fit and are stunning in their simplicity to match a candidate with your culture.  Assuming you like the background and experiences of the candidate and are confident they can do the job, you really only need to evaluate if your company, the specific opportunity, and the candidate are a fit for each other.  So, ask these questions one at a time.  Once you get the response from the candidate, ask "why?" and say "tell me more" multiple times.  Then, s.h.u.t. u.p.   Seriously - stop talking.  Don't bail the candidate out, but rather force them to tell you what really jazzes them about jobs and companies, and subsequently, what drives them crazy.

Once you get that, you'll have what you need.  Candidate likes a lot of structure, but all you can provide is that circus you call a company?  Move on.   Candidate likes to play ping-pong for 4 hours a day, but your CEO walks around evaluating if people are working hard enough by how unhappy they look?  Probably not going to work out.

Give it a try and spend at least 5 minutes on each item.  You'll be shocked at the value of what candidates tell you in response to these simple questions. 

Comments

Bohdan Rohbock

Those are definitely the two most important questions to get answered. The part that takes practice is the "s.h.u.t u.p" stage. Silence can make us uncomfortable, we just need to learn to deal with being a little uncomfortable to get the results we want.

Tracy Tran

Dang it...now I got more questions to ask to job seekers. Thanks a lot.

Seriously, those are great questions to ask. I also would ask them name a pop culture person (real or fictionial) at work that you relate to you most, and "Are You Lucky?" (Dan Pink).

Even with those questions, the interviewee might get away, so I would look at their body language and expressions to see if they believe it and if there's any chemistry between the interviewee and interviewer. I think that's more important than any question asked.

Dawn Hrdlica

What do you mean I am no Tim Russert (RIP). . . . ? Can you at least throw me a Rachel Maddow?

Our culture is high on the ee friendly list---so hard questioning does feel like an interrogation to some. However, we hire mucho sales reps---who are well versed in talking, talking, talking. We've learned to grasp the art of gentle interuption and redirect. But even then it is easy to get lost in the answers.

We excel in candidate comfortability. The more comfy and happy a candidate is---the more relaxed (and usually) truthful. It's funner that a stress interview anyway. . . . .

Oh. . .and about that Shut up thing. . . . still working on it. . . . .

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