Recent tough economic conditions have caused a slowdown in hiring for many companies. But as the hiring environment improves, it’s time to refresh your interview skills and think about how to conduct a job interview. Even in a market with many talented people chasing limited jobs, you need to win the war for talent and find the right person for your position. So before you conduct an interview, get clear on what insights you’re seeking, and be sure to ask these five questions.
1. What is the most difficult situation you’ve faced in your career and what did you do about it and learn from it?
One of the most important qualities that top employees share is an ability to face adversity without blame-shifting, to maintain a positive attitude when things go wrong and to persevere through the tough times. Since the best predictor of behavior is past performance, you need to find out if the person you’re interviewing can take on challenges or looks for someone or something else to blame.
2. How do you mobilize and motivate people in a team?
The ability to be a team player is a given these days, so of course a job applicant will say that she understands the importance of teamwork. But when you’re recruiting for an executive or management position, you need to know if this person can effectively work across functions and with those who don’t report to him. That’s because today’s workplace is full of ad hoc teams put together to accomplish a specific goal or project. Susan Lyne, chairman of the Gilt Groupe, notes that, “I need people who are going to be able to work with people – that’s No. 1 on the list. I need people who are going to be able to build a team, manage a team, recruit well and work well with their peers.”
3. What interests you about this position and this company?
You’re trying to discover if the person will love the job and be motivated to work hard. Someone who presents to you with enviable technical skills isn’t a good choice if she’s lacking the motivation to excel in your organization. Hiring her will be a mistake. As you conduct an interview, find out if the person has done advance research on your organization and the job opening. This helps you assess whether she is motivated and engaged or just going through the motions.
4. Why should we become co-workers?
This question can draw out the interviewee’s view of her strengths and the reasons why she believes she would be a good fit for the position and your company. Cultural fit is a huge issue when hiring and it’s often very hard to determine from an interview. According to executive coach Terry Bacon, “What you’re looking for there is whether this person has the values that are really central to your organization. Are they compatible with your view of how business is done and how people work together?”
5. What did you do when your company (or department) goals were met or exceeded?
Many executives, according to a New York Times article, say that ‘fearlessness’ is one of the main qualities they look for when interviewing people. That’s because in today’s competitive global environment, you need people with an appetite to question the status quo and shake things up. While it’s easy to coast when things are going well and targets are being met, complacency is a deadly long-term attitude for employees and organizations.
What questions do you like to ask when you conduct an interview?