Laser sharp interviewing

Like it or not, part of our jobs as leaders and managers often entails hiring new people. It’s a nerve wrecking process as we don’t want to get it wrong and so much of it relies on first impressions and good faith. People come and go and it’s pretty important to hire the right kind of people for your team, after all the right person can make a huge positive impact on the team and organisation as a whole. And the wrong person can really let the performance of the team down. Hiring new recruits is a multi-facetted process with so many dynamics at play. Yes, you want someone with all the right skills and experience, but you also want someone with the right attitude, someone who fits the culture. 

When it comes to the actual interview, nothing beats being prepared. It is a good idea to brush up on your interview skills to make sure you are operating on all cylinders and don’t fall for any of the common traps, which I’ll outline below; 

Meet face-to-face if possible

Once you have gone through all the resumes and created a shortlist, you need to arrange job interviews. While it’s great we can do things online, I would still recommend trying to meet the person ‘in real life’, face to face, so you can get a much better feel for the person. Perhaps you could have an online ‘quick chat’ to get a gauge on them, but do follow up with a face to face meeting if you are serious about them. 

It’s face to face interviews that allows you to really hone in on active listening and the ability to read their body language. Such a vital skill in itself to really get a deeper read on someone. 

Be careful of those that can talk-the-talk but turn out not to walk-the-walk

One of the biggest challenges in hiring someone new is the ability to figure out if the person sitting in front of you during an interview is going to turn out to be as good as they portray themselves to be when you first meet them. It’s a great idea to do a few interviews and bring in other people for a second opinion, especially if you are not quite sure initially. Generally, the longer you spend with someone, or the more interviews you have with them, the more opportunity you have to get some greater insight into the ‘real’ them. 

Some people excel at interviews, portraying themselves as the ideal match for the role, only to fall short or reveal their true colours once they begin working. Instead of relying solely on standard interview questions that candidates may have rehearsed, consider throwing in some thought-provoking curveballs (or ‘fluff-busters’ as I like to call them) to give you greater insight into the person behind the polished facade.

This entails delving deeper into their responses. If a candidate mentions a desire for another job, inquire about the specifics of that desired role. If they claim success in launching a new product, press for specific details on their approach; “how specifically did you go about that?”.

Challenge their perspectives to gauge their adaptability and problem-solving skills. If they express limitations in their thinking, explore the potential consequences of pushing beyond those boundaries. By asking probing questions that catch candidates off guard, you may gain valuable insights into their potential performance in the role. However, tread carefully, as delving into the limitations of their thinking can be uncomfortable territory.

Nevertheless, it’s a worthwhile endeavour to ensure you’re hiring the right person for the job. 

Probing questions are a great way to break through the rehearsed exterior they want to portray and uncover vulnerabilities and facets of their personalities that you wouldn’t otherwise see, as well as reveal potential behaviour in everyday, challenging or stressful situations. 

Don’t hire a Clone 

Often we have preconceived ideas about who we want to hire for a role and naturally tend to want to hire someone we have a good rapport with. And rapport is easier when two people share similarities and the differences between them are minimised. Once a connection is established with someone, our perception of them tends to improve rapidly, often leading to conducting interviews or making recruitment decisions through rose-tinted glasses.

If you find yourself particularly drawn to a candidate due to a personal connection, it’s essential to maintain a laser focus on their skills and evaluate whether they possess the necessary experience to meet the demands of the role. It can be a recipe for disaster when managers hire people based on such things as “I felt comfortable with them”, “they remind me of myself when I was younger” or “we got on really well”, only to discover their complete incompetence when it comes to performing in the job. 

Of course, this isn’t a hard a fast ‘rule’. You might have an admin job, for example, where you are confident you can train someone on the skills needed quite quickly. In this case, you might weigh things up and choose the person who is a better culturural fit, that you know you will build good rapport with, as opposed to someone with years of experience in the field and all the right skills, who you just don’t gel with. 

Along these same lines, avoid hiring someone just because they remind you of the person you are replacing. You may end up thinking a candidate that most resembles the old person in the role has the best skills for the job, so you may choose the fun, young female because the previous person was a fun, young female, at the expense of the more skilled, older, male candidate. 

Brushing up on your hiring skills is a great idea. After all, hiring the right talent and building a high performing team is important. I’d love to talk to you about your workshop and coaching needs. If you and your team want to kick off the year on the right foot, get in touch today, I’d love to help.

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