hiring-culture

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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3 WORDS THAT COULD SOLVE YOUR BIGGEST HIRING PROBLEM

3 WORDS THAT COULD SOLVE YOUR BIGGEST HIRING PROBLEM

recruitment

It’s no secret that there’s a ‘talent war’ happening right now – especially in the tech industry. Although, today I heard it referred to as ‘an arms race for talent’, so I’m not sure what the correct analogy is, but I think we all get the idea: the biggest hiring problem right now for most organizations is finding good, talented people with the right level of experience, and who also fit the company culture.

But don’t fret, I know the solution to this problem, and it can be summed up in three simple words:

HIRE ON POTENTIAL

What does this mean?

It means that instead of hiring a candidate because he/she has successfully performed a similar role in the past, you hire a candidate because you believe that he or she has the right attitude, skill set and fundamental understanding of the position to be successful in the future (even if they’ve never actually held the same position before). Now, I know you’re probably thinking: “That’s the solution? That’s not revolutionary at all – it’s simple!” And my answer to you would be, “No, it’s not simple as you may think.”

You see, by moving away from the ‘old school’ hiring philosophy of qualifying top candidates by trying to determine “has this candidate done it before?” towards a new hiring philosophy of determining “does this candidate have the potential to do it?”, you’re essentially changing your hiring culture. And, as most seasoned business people know, changing the culture of any organization is a very challenging task and it takes time, strong leadership, and support from the top. Further, companies will need to commit to investing time and resources to ensure the candidate will have enough training, support and mentorship to be successful in the position.

The next Wayne Gretzky?

I was at lunch today with a fellow industry recruiter and we were discussing the topic of hiring on potential and he came up with the obvious (yet eye opening) comparison to the sports industry. He commented that by hiring on potential, you’re essentially hiring your ‘draft picks’ that have a good chance of becoming your best players in 2 – 3 years’ time. Think about it – this is true for any professional sport and it works! Whether it’s the NHL, NFL, MLB, NBA, rugby, soccer etc., there are many examples in which the draft picks came in with no ‘big league’ experience, yet, have totally transformed entire teams within a few years to win a championship.

New Dog = New Tricks

By hiring on potential, not only will you have more candidates to choose from, but you’ll also have highly motivated employees. Have you ever heard the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. It’s an old expression that applies perfectly to this topic: by hiring on potential, you’re essentially hiring a ‘puppy’ that, with enough training, support, and mentorship, will learn as many tricks as your throw at it. Further, your ‘puppy’ will be more motivated because they will encounter more challenges (which is a natural motivator for most people) and be more eager to impress and prove themselves to others.

Conclusion:

Don’t get stuck in the ‘old-school’ philosophy of hiring on experience. Keep an open mind and try looking for someone that doesn’t necessarily have the level of experience you’re looking for, but is talented and fits the company culture. By taking this approach, your talent pool will be much deeper and you might hire the next Wayne Gretsky.

Footnote:  If you’re not Canadian, then you may not know who Wayne Gretzky is. In short, he’s often referred to as “the greatest hockey player ever” and more information about him can be found here.

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