By: Ron Guest, Co-Founder, TwoGreySuits
TwoGreySuits Tip – take considerable time to plan out what behaviors you want/know will fit before you interview. Take as much as 2-3 hours to really think this out, ask others, prepare a list of competencies, and develop relevant interview questions.
I realize this tip sounds obvious, yet, I still see many companies trying to take short cuts in the hiring process, and they almost always end up paying the price. Think about it for a moment – you could be hiring your next employee for 5-10 years or longer, and the impact they can have in that time can be hugely variable. So, why do managers try and take short cuts anyways? My answer to this is that they do not know how to properly hire or interview and the most important task at hand becomes ‘filling a seat’, or expediency. I estimate that 9/10 times when I have been called to help with a performance management issue, it can be linked to poor hiring practices.
On the TwoGreySuits.com website there is a Competencies Questionnaire asking you to rate 80 questions on a 1-5 scale in terms of importance to the job you are hiring for. This allows you to know in a more psychological way exactly what behaviors you should be looking for and they are even ranked in order of importance for you. The matching behavioral questions are also on the website. I have listed some questions I have used in the past to really try and get a good understanding of how a person thinks, acts and how they might do think/act in future.
For behavioral interview questions when I ask for specific examples of situations and how the candidate behaved, I am looking for names of other people involved, place and time. I do this because upfront I tell the candidate that the answers to these questions about past situations will need to be verified in reference checks. (this effectively takes the BS/embellishment factor out of the answers) Many candidates will not be used to or comfortable with these types of behavior questions and to this extent I have also in the past listed them out hard copy and have offered the candidate the choice of responding to them on their own time in writing. (an email back to me) This is not an exercise in memory recall, it is about understanding past behaviors because that is the best predictor of future behavior.
Here they are: (always ask for examples which can be verified)
• How do you deal with pressure situations? • How do you deal with surprises? • How do you deal with tension? • How well do you work under a deadline? • How well do you work under pressure? • Is there anything you haven’t revealed that would affect our decision? • Tell me about a time you had a problem with decisiveness. • What are some things you had planned to accomplish that were not carried out? • What are your pet peeves? • What is your biggest professional challenge? • What job experiences have angered you? • What mistakes might we make in hiring you? • What types of things make you angry? • Why aren’t you making more money with all this background? • Why do you want to work in a job for which you are overqualified? • Why is your grade point average so low? • Why were you in school for so long? • You’ve been with your current employer for a very short time. Is this an indication that you’ll be moving around a lot throughout your career? • You’ve changed jobs quite frequently, what assurances do we have that you will stay with us?
Terminated/Fired – • Have you ever been asked to resign? • Have you ever been demoted? • Have you ever been denied a promotion? • Have you ever been fired for reasons that seem unfair? • Have you ever been fired? • Have you ever been laid off? • Have you ever been turned down for a promotion? • What did you do during the gap in your employment history? • Why did you leave your last job? or Why do you want to leave your current job? • Why do you want to leave your current employer so soon? • Why do you want to leave your job if you like it so much? • Why have you been out of work for so long? • Why haven’t you accepted a job yet? • Why haven’t you been hired yet? • Why haven’t you found work yet? • Why is there a large gap in your employment history? • Why were you let go?
Poor Evaluations – How was your last performance review? • Can you provide a copy of your last performance review? • How were you evaluated in your last job? • What were the results of your last performance appraisal? • What’s the biggest mistake you can recall making?
Dislikes/Dealing with Others – • Have you ever had a communication- problem with anyone? • Have you ever lost your temper? • Have you ever openly criticized someone else? • Have you ever worked with someone you didn’t like? • In the past, how have you dealt with co-workers who have disagreed with you? • Tell me about the last time you got angry on the job. • Tell me about the time when someone has lost his/her temper at you in a business environment. • Tell me about your last situation with an unhappy customer? What did you do? • What bothers you? • What did you dislike about your previous company? • What did you dislike about your supervisor? • What did you dislike most about your previous job? • What kinds of people do you have problems working with? • What types of people seem to rub you the wrong way?
Bottom-line here is: WHEN HIRING THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR PROPER INTERVIEW PREPERATION, DON’T TAKE SHORT CUTS!
Short cuts include: • not being prepared for the interview, no preparation of relevant questions • no up to date job description • unaware of market pay rates • not properly checking references • hiring the best of a bad lot • putting hiring expediency before quality (common problem)