When you are interviewing someone for a job, you are trying to look through the fog and see if they are a good fit for your company. You are trying to see what drives them and what things might be stumbling blocks, right? You are looking for any fatal flaws that might actually infect the corporate culture that you are seeking to protect.
So, how do you do that? How do you get the mask to come off and see the real person? Ask the right questions, then listen. This is not an all-inclusive list. I am sure there are a hundred more that could be asked as well, but these are thought provoking questions that will help you see if you are trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
- “Tell me about yourself.” This is a great open-ended question and it is amazing what some people will tell you.
- “If money were no object, what would you want to do?” I love this question because it cuts to the chase. It uncovers what they are really pursuing. Encourage them to pursue their passion, not the paycheck.
- “What is pressure to you on a job?” This uncovers things that could be ticking time-bombs.
- “Why are you leaving, or why did you leave your job?” This will be a great question to uncover what issues they may have had in the past.
- “What is your current financial situation?” This is particularly important to know you are hiring someone for a commission type job. It they don’t have any cushion and they pay cycle is long, they won’t stick around.
- “Why would you be interested in working with us?” See if they have done their homework. Do they even know what you do? Are they just using you as a stepping stone until they can find something they really want to do?
- What would your spouse or best friend say about you…good or bad? Are they willing to be transparent and admit they are not perfect? Do their strengths line up with your job description?
If you think about it, we have it backwards. We typically are quick to hire and slow to fire. It is extremely costly to hire and train someone. Many man hours go up in flames every day because we don’t ask the right questions. If we succumb to the pressure to fill the slot and put a warm body in there, we may just be inviting in a virus that could spread and infect everyone. As Sweet Brown said, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
Let’s reverse the curse. Let’s not throw bodies against the wall to see who sticks. That is a waste of everyone’s time. If we can just be willing to be honest with ourselves and with the candidates we are interviewing, that could solve a lot of the problems. Not everyone who walks through the door looking for work is right for the job.
One of the best things that happened to me was when I was interviewing for a job many years ago. The HR lady gave me a reality check. I was desperate for a paycheck, and was willing to do whatever I had to in order to survive. She looked at my resume and noted that every one of my jobs had entailed outside sales. She said, “Dan, you would go crazy sitting behind a desk all day. That is not you.” She was right. When she put it that way, it made perfect sense to me. I was so focused on getting a paycheck that I had put my common sense aside. How ridiculous was that? I was going to do something that would have just made me crazy, and would probably not have lasted a week.
So, next time you interview someone, ask the right questions and then listen. It is better to be honest with someone up front than to endure having a trouble maker and having to fire them. If you are the one being interviewed, you might want to think through your own answers to the questions up front. There is a good chance that some if not all of these will be asked of you.