The Art Of The Interview
Interviews have never been my favorite thing. I have an innate ability to find a connection with anyone. That is an asset in my personal and professional life – but it has always felt like a liability in interviews.
Recently though, I’ve realized this isn’t necessarily bad, because it taught me an important lesson: Gut instinct isn’t enough when making a new hire.
Anyone can be impressive for an hour or let nerves get in their own way. Here are a few questions I’ve picked up that help me create a clear picture and make the right hiring decision.
Question 1: Why [your organization]?
At first blush, this sounds like a pretty basic question, but it can reveal several fundamentals about a candidate. For starters, it tells me if they’ve done their research on the company they’re applying to. You’d think that would be a basic first step for applicants, but not always!
Asking why also lets me know, well, why they want to work with us. It’s important to know what attracts an applicant to your company and the open position.
This question also gives me some insight into the candidate’s thinking. How do they view the position in terms of a career path? Are they thinking about us in the long term? Also, it tells me why they want that particular job, and not just a job.
Question 2: Tell me about a time when…
Here, I want to draw out the applicant’s own experiences and background. It can tell me a lot about how they think and their attitudes. Are they honest and self-aware? Hopefully, I’m not just hearing what they think I want to hear.
This question also helps me understand what they’d be like as an employee. It can give me a look at how they see themselves in the context of a project or a team and whether they have the kinds of skills that I’m looking for. It can also give me clues regarding their problem-solving skills and approaches.
Question 3: What feedback would you give your current leader? What feedback would they give you?
This two-part question can tell me a lot about the applicant’s needs from a manager and what they want in a leader. It gives me a chance to learn more about their strengths and weaknesses as an employee, such as their ability to think objectively and in what areas they need to grow.
It can also identify red flags in an applicant. If they don’t really reveal any growth areas, if they bad-mouth their boss or if they avoid the question altogether, those are all indicators that this person might not be the right fit for your team.
Question 4: What questions do you have for me?
This is a great place to end your interview. It can take the conversation in new directions and reveal more about your applicant. And it doesn’t really allow a “no” on their part.
How an applicant handles this can reveal quite a bit. If they don’t have any relevant or specific questions, I’m going to wonder how well they understand what we’re looking for in the position. And if their questions are relevant, I’m likely to come away knowing more about their skills and experiences. It’s a win-win.
I’m still not a perfect interviewer with questions like these in hand, but I am more objective. Tell me about your dog, where you’ve traveled or a great book you just read and I am still pretty sure we could be best friends, but the right questions give me a much better idea of your ability to be successful on my team.
Davis is PPAI’s director of business development.