candidate-experience

MY TOP 12 INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

MY TOP 12 INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

interview tips

K.I.S.S!

With thousands of books, articles, blogs and courses that discuss the science and art behind ‘perfect’ interview questions, it’s easy to get overwhelmed on this topic. Throughout the last 10 years in my career I’ve learned that you don’t need to over-complicate interview questions and I prefer to keep my questions fairly simple and straightforward – Keep It Simple Stupid (as my dad used to tell me!).

Below are my top 12 interview questions that I like to use to gain an accurate, broad, and multidimensional understanding of a candidate to ensure the best possible long-term match for a specific job opportunity.

Note: I wont ask all of these questions in the same single interview, some of them are better suited for an initial phone screen conversation, and some of them are better suited for conversation during the offer stage.

1) Why did you apply to this position?
A good open-ended question to start the conversation. It will usually reveal the candidate’s main motivators (very important!),their current situation, and will provide a good basis to launch a productive conversation.

2) Why are you a [ insert: developer / project manager / architect etc] ?
Another very open-ended question that candidates will interpret differently from one to the next (but that’s ok!). Hopefully they will talk about the passion for their craft, what they like about it, and discuss the path that brought them to where they are today.

3) If i was a magic genie and could create you your dream job, what would it be?
This is a great question if you can’t quite peg down what the candidate is a fit for, or if you’re having trouble identifying whether the role is a good fit for a candidate. This question can also help to accurately ‘pipeline’ a candidate for future roles.

4) What’s your understanding of this position?
A good level-setter. During an interview I like to ensure that the candidate has an accurate understanding of the role that they are interviewing for, and this question should reveal any discrepancies or misunderstandings. Once they’ve answered this question, I’ll usually ask the hiring manager to explain the role in their own words and to cover off any discrepancies that have been revealed.

5) What are some of your key strengths as they relate to this position?
Most candidates will have a premeditated response to this popular question so I like to take it one step further by asking them to relate their strengths to the specific role they are interviewing for.

6) What do you love/hate about your current job?
This question can reveal a lot about the candidate’s personality, likes and dislikes and will help you to assess whether the role is really going to be an enjoyable and long-term fit for them.

7) What do you like to do for fun in your spare time?
It’s important to gain a complete understanding of the candidate and that includes their personality and interests outside of a professional work environment. This will help with culture fit assessment and will usually reveal interesting facts about a candidate that will keep the tone of the interview light and conversational.

8)Tell me about your long-term careers goals and how you feel this position fits into them.
Evaluating long-term fit is critical and this question will help you do this. I like to hear how the candidate feels about the long term fit, while I’ll also be making my own assessment.

9) Tell me about a single [project / task / event / product ] that you were involved in from start to finish that that you’re particularly proud of.
Taking a page out of Lou Adler’s book, this is a fantastic question that will reveal a lot about the candidate, and will create many opportunities for follow-up probing questions and conversations.

10) Tell me about your favourite manager and what about them made them so great?
Recruiters also need to evaluate whether the candidate is a good fit for the management style and personality of the hiring manager. This question will give you insight into this area and will help you make comparisons to evaluate a good overall team fit.

11) What concerns do you have about this opportunity?
This questions allows you to uncover, discuss and overcome any ‘red flags’ that the candidate could have about the role. It can also reveal any discrepancies or misunderstandings that the candidate may have. The quicker you can identify these, the more time you will have to overcome their objections and clear up any misunderstandings.

12) Compensation aside, why do you want this job?
Another page out of Lou Adler’s book, I’ll often ask this question during the offer stage to reduce the focus on salary and remind the candidate of the non-monetary reasons of why they should accept the position.

Conclusion

Asking good interview questions doesn’t need to be complicated or fancy. By keeping it simple and asking intelligent open-ended questions at the right time, a recruiter can easily gain a deep and broad understanding of a candidate to be able to make insightful and accurate assessments of their long term fit in a position and within an organisation.

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10 REASONS WHY INVESTING IN INTERNAL TALENT ACQUISITION FOR 2015 IS A SMART CHOICE

10 REASONS WHY INVESTING IN INTERNAL TALENT ACQUISITION FOR 2015 IS A SMART CHOICE

recruitment

So what can a growing organisation do to help overcome this talent shortage challenge in 2015? Well traditionally, organisations have chosen to do one of the following:

  1. Do nothing and continue to rely on job postings, employee referrals and word of mouth.
  2. Rely on external recruitment agencies.
  3. Invest in building an internal talent acquisition function.

After nearly 10 years in the recruiting business, I’ve participated in, and observed, all 3 of these options. In my opinion, #3 is by far the smartest choice. Here are 10 reasons why:

1) You’ll have more success

A broad statement to start, but my own observations and personal experience is that organisations with dedicated high performing internal talent acquisition functions are far more successful in reaching their hiring goals than companies that rely solely on job boards and/or external recruitment agencies.

2) You’ll save a lot of money

When compared with the cost of using external recruitment agencies, I’ve calculated that I’ve saved my clients an average of $170,000 per 6 months in each of my previous 3 recruitment gigs. External recruitment agencies are expensive, typically charging anywhere from 15% – 30% of a candidate’s base salary for each placement. This can add up very quickly. In the end, the ROI for an internal talent acquisition function is much greater, and your average cost of placement is significantly reduced.

3) You’ll hire better people

Because they’re dedicating 100% of their day to your specific organisation, a high functioning talent acquisition team will be able to uncover and canvass a deeper pool of candidates than #1 and #2 put together, often finding (and closing!) those ‘diamonds in the rough,’ and ultimately providing more choice to your hiring managers. This means your average quality of hire will naturally increase.

4) You’ll hire faster

Because the best people get snapped up quickly, a good internal recruiter understands that momentum and speed is everything when it comes to hiring. By operating on the inside and having more insight and influence over the internal interview process, an internal recruiter will get feedback quickly and will be able guide the interview process along at a faster pace as required.

5) Your hiring managers will be happier

Because they’re actually part of the same organisation, and often working in the same office, internal recruiters are able to partner with hiring managers to build close, trusting, long-term relationships while opening up effective, high touch communication channels. This enables the recruiter to more accurately understand the unique requirements of every position to better identify a solid, long-term match, which ultimately makes the hiring manager happier.

6) New hires will stay longer

By recruiting from the inside, internal talent acquisition recruiters are able to gain a first-person, deeper understanding of the unique organisational culture as well as the subtle nuances of individual team dynamics. This enables them to more accurately assesses a long-term culture fit which will result in longer tenures for new hires.

7) Your candidate experience will improve

Having a great candidate experience has become a critical part of the recruitment process and can directly impact your hiring outcomes (see my blog on Candidate UX here). By acting as a friendly and knowledgeable supportive ‘point person’ and company ‘ambassador’, an internal recruiter plays a key part in providing great candidate UX to job applicants across the entire interview process, which will ultimately increase your hiring performance.

8) You will have more control of your employment brand

Your employment brand is a very important and valuable part of your organisation. It gives your company a unique identity within the labour market, and is a critical component when it comes to attracting and hiring people with the right culture fit. Internal recruiters live and breathe your employment brand in every interaction with candidates, and they are your key brand-ambassadors to the outside world. Trusting your valuable employment brand to external recruitment agencies who can’t possibly fully and accurately promote your employment brand is a missed opportunity and can be a major risk.

9) You’ll make smarter workforce planning decisions

Your internal recruitment team should have a good pulse on what’s going on in the labour market for your specific niche, and can be a great trusted resource when it comes to making strategic decisions on workforce planning for your unique environment. They’ll be able to advise on areas such as market salary levels, skills availability by location, labour market trends, and specific hiring challenges as well as what your competitors are doing.

10) Your competitors are doing it

Business is competitive and so is the labour market. We all know that the most valuable part of any organisation is its people; therefore, the ability to hire top talent is crucial to an organisation’s success. There has been a noticeable trend over the last few years towards companies investing in internal talent acquisition. In fact, the vast majority of the world’s top companies now have their own dedicated internal recruitment teams. This means that there’s a good chance your competitors are doing it, and will have the advantage when it comes to hiring top talent.  They may already be trying to poach your top employees!

 Conclusion

2014 wasn’t an easy year for hiring, and by all accounts, 2015 is looking to be even more difficult. If your organisation is serious about growth next year, and about remaining competitive in the long run, then investing in a high performing internal talent acquisition function is very a smart choice.

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CANDIDATE UX: THE FOUNDATION TO DESIGNING A GREAT HIRING PROCESS

CANDIDATE UX: THE FOUNDATION TO DESIGNING A GREAT HIRING PROCESS

candidate experience

How do you design a great hiring process? Think Candidate UX!

What is Candidate UX?

In order to understand Candidate UX, you must first understand what ‘User Experience’ (UX) is. The discipline of UX is dynamic and always changing and growing, but in a nutshell, it’s an umbrella term used to describe all the factors that contribute to a user’s overall perception and feeling about a system or product.

UX Design is the process of enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty by improving the usability, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the customer and the product[1] This is done by asking questions such as: Is it easy to use? Is it attractive and appropriate? Does it meet user’s needs? It’s important to note that the core of UX Design focuses on having a deep understanding of the users — what they need, what they value, their abilities, and also their limitations.[2]

Candidate UX takes the best practises and fundamentals from the discipline of UX Design to provide frameworks and guidelines to the design of the hiring process.

By applying what we’ve learned from the field of UX, we can use these frameworks and guidelines to design a positive, high quality, and user-friendly hiring process which will ultimately improve the overall candidate experience.

What are the UX Design best practises?

A quick google on this topic will give you ample information about the fundamentals of UX Design from which you can work from. My favourite list is by Peter Morville[3]a respected UX expert, who identifies these core best practises of UX design which I’ve adapted to relate to the job application process:

Useful: Your content such as job descriptions, information packs, feedback etc should be original and fulfill a need
Usable: The entire job application process should be easy to use
Desirable: Image, culture identity, employment brand, and other design elements conveyed on careers sites, job specs, social sites etc are used to evoke emotion and appreciation
Findable: Job opportunities and relevant information needs to be navigable and locatable onsite and offsite – nowadays this includes mobile platforms.
Accessible: Content needs to be accessible to candidates with disabilities
Credible: Candidates must trust and believe what you tell them

Candidate Personas – The Foundation of Candidate UX

The foundation of a great UX Design is having a strong understanding of your user’s behaviours, attitudes and motivations (a.ka. personas). Personas concentrate on what a user does, what frustrates the user, and what gives the user satisfaction[4]. For Candidate UX this means gaining a deep understanding of your target candidate’s preferences, needs and expectations as it relates to the hiring process.

For example, after 9 years of tech recruiting I have formed a good idea of a candidate persona for a Software Developer:

  • I know they are typically well educated, smart and are passionate about problem solving, building things and technology so this needs to be evident in all job descriptions to catch their attention.
  • They are technical by nature so all job descriptions and relevant useful information such as company profile and products must be easily searchable and available online and on mobile devices.
  • They tend to be more introverted and analytical and are impressed and motivated by technical challenge so a combination of behavioural and technical interviews are required to get an accurate candidate assessment.
  • They like team collaboration with other smart people so including peer level developers (not just hiring managers) in the interviews can be beneficial to both parties.
  • Software Developers like a degree of freedom to play with and test new new tools and emerging technology so these topics should be discussed during the interview process.
  • They aren’t always the best verbal communicators and often prefer to demonstrate their technical ability as opposed to just talking about it, so including technical coding assignments into the process is valuable for both parties.
  • They are detail orientated by nature and like to analyse data instead of taking things at face value so make sure you have good data available to back up any claims you’re making about the job and company etc.
  • They are motivated by learning new technologies and there’s a typical dichotomy where some prefer to remain 100% technical ‘hands on’ throughout their career, while the others tend to move towards architecture or people management so its important to uncover this during the process and educate the candidate about typical career paths available to them at the organisation.

The Universal Candidate Persona:

At the end of the day, all candidates are human, and regardless of what job or industry we work in, there are some common denominations in behaviour, attitudes and motivations that we all share. Whether you’re hiring a CEO, a software developer, or a truck driver, there are certain elements that all candidates need and expect throughout the hiring process. I have identified the following universal factors that must be applied to all job application processes:

User friendly: Whether its submitting a resume, finding information, or interviewing, the entire job application must be easy to ‘use’ for the candidate.
Feedback: At minimum, confirmation that a job application has been received is critical. Better yet, feedback about the status and timing of the application should be communicated to all candidates regardless of the strength of their application.
Communication: honest and clear communication throughout the process is vital. The more personal the communication is, the better.
Information: Accurate, consistent and quality information must be available to all candidates (and easy to find!) throughout the entire process.
Respect: All candidates deserve respect for their effort and time regardless of their fit for the role.
Closure: All candidates, whether successful or not, need closure on their application.

Who’s doing it right?

I love finding out about companies that are going the extra mile for their candidate experience. LinkedIn Talent Blog recently profiled 3 companies that I believe are setting new standards in candidate experience:
Rapid7: http://goo.gl/UzdwR8
LinkedIn: http://goo.gl/fS7Zhr
Airbnb: http://goo.gl/bTCVs3

Conclusion:

In today’s competitive job market, the organisations that offer the best candidate experience are having the most success in reaching their hiring goals. By applying the principles derived from UX to recruitment, organisations can design better hiring processes that will have significant positive impact to the overall candidate experience.

Citations:

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_experience_design
2http://www.usability.gov/what-and-why/user-experience.html
3www.semanticstudios.com.
4 http://www.measuringusability.com
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2 EASY STEPS TO IMPROVE CANDIDATE FEEDBACK WHILE BUILDING YOUR EMPLOYMENT BRAND

2 EASY STEPS TO IMPROVE CANDIDATE FEEDBACK WHILE BUILDING YOUR EMPLOYMENT BRAND

recruitment

In today’s highly competitive job market, overlooking one of the most basic and simple parts of the recruitment process can reflect negatively on you, your company and your employment brand. Essentially, it will annoy and frustrate candidates and they’ll be less likely to want to work at your organization in the future.  Additionally, you also miss out on the opportunity to build your network and promote your employment brand

Ever since the early days of my recruitment career, I’ve made a special effort to differentiate myself from other recruiters and do my best to provide as much feedback as I can to applicants of my jobs. Admittedly, I haven’t been perfect in this area and there have been candidates that fell through the gaps, but over the years I have experimented with, developed and tested a number of simple ways  to improve my feedback rate and here’s a couple of easy tips that may help you:

1)    Implement a system to respond (and thank) every candidate applying to your job.

As well as a personal touch, this gives the candidate confirmation that their resume has been received. Thanking them for their application is polite and a good way to start the relationship.  This might sound like a lot of work if you are receiving hundreds of applications for a specific job but there are many quick and automated ways to do this depending on the technology of your recruitment process. Most Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and job board software products will have a customizable auto-reply function for new applicants coming in. If this isn’t available to you, then a simple email auto signature will suffice and only takes a couple of seconds to do. Here’s one I’ve used in the past:

“Thank you for sending your application to us. We will review your application over the next few days/week/end of month and will be in touch via email or phone with some feedback.”

Many ATS systems and job board products will offer a standard response, but I recommend customizing this message to reflect your personality and the employment brand of your organization.

2)    Let every candidate know the final outcome of their application.

This seems obvious for the successful candidates, but what about the ‘rejected’ ones? Remember, they might not be the right fit for this job but they could be a great fit for another role that comes up in the future (or might be able to refer someone to you). Also, remember that candidates talk to each other and you could quickly get a bad rep around town.

Again, many ATS systems will have a customizable function that will allow you to do this with the click of a button. If you don’t have an ATS system, then you can use another quick email auto signature to respond to the candidate. Here’s an example of one that I have been using recently:

“Thanks again for your interest in this postition. Although you have gained some great working experience throughout your career, your profile isn’t close enough to match the needs for this particular position and so we will not be proceeding with your application. We will hold onto your details in case something more suitable becomes available and please keep an eye on our website careers@xyzcompany.com”

This message is polite and complimentary to the candidate and gives a clear indication of whether they are successful or not. It also lets the candidate know what you’ll do with their information and promotes your career page. It can also be another chance for you to promote your employment brand.

This has been extremely effective for me and I have received hundreds of replies to this message from candidates thanking me for my time and for actually getting back to them. This small step reflects positively both on me as a professional as well as the company I’m working for. It also keeps the door open for future relationships as I continue to build my network.

Conclusion

By using technology and a little bit of thought and planning, everyone should be able to respond to all candidate applications. Instead of viewing feedback as a burden and cumbersome to give, try viewing it as a great way to promote your employment brand and build networks in the talent market. By responding to every applicant that has shown interest the opportunity, you are creating a good first impression and taking the first few steps towards building a relationship with the candidate.

Photo credit: recruitingdaily.com

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