Tell me about yourself. What are your strengths and challenges? Where do you see yourself in five years? It’s likely you have encountered these questions somewhere along your professional journey, whether as an interviewer or job candidate. We know them because they are an interview staple, but these questions aren’t serving the role of uncovering the particular facts a company needs to make a strong hiring decision.
There is something else amiss with the common interview process – consistency. Each company interaction is different and the style and demeanor varies. We meet different levels of employees at different times and for different reasons, which leads us to evaluate applicants through a subjective lens. We lose accuracy and objectivity when comparing each candidate and the talent pool as a whole.
Addressing both of these issues by maintaining consistent standards throughout the process, asking experience-based questions (versus behavioral-based) and putting metrics in place, we increase hiring success significantly. Here are ways to do that.
Interviewing is a lost art. Recruiters and hiring managers, even at the same company, have their own questioning style and end result in mind for each conversation. It muddies the waters and makes a true and impartial evaluation nearly impossible. We see interviewers typically fall in to one of four categories:
- The Art Critic looks at a candidate and decides immediately whether he or she is right for the job based on appearance or mannerisms without delving further into experience and skills.
- The Sponge thinks the best way to get information is to pelt the interviewee with a list of endless questions then hopes he can piece together some sort of evaluation at the end.
- The Prosecutor tries to lure people off their game with “gotcha” questions and is more interested in testing candidates under pressure than understanding their capabilities.
- The Airline Pilot reviews the same checklist and takes the same steps for each take-off and landing making sure there are no surprises and that nothing is missing in the process.
This last one is the best style to emulate by focusing on the consistency of the “airline pilot” method. As important as interview style is the consistency of questions. Each one should reveal how a candidate handled past work situations through concrete examples of the skills and abilities they thought necessary for effective job performance. This experience-based interview takes a deep dive into a resume by asking the same four questions for each past position:
- What were you hired to do?
- How were you successful in the job and why?
- How were you not successful in the job and why?
- Why did you change positions?
Once the same information has been collected for each applicant, then the results can be evaluated with more transparency and consistency, and less emotion or judgement.
Hypothetical questions are not the route to determining the future success of a candidate, neither is “winging” the interview. Conducting interviews is not easy or something that can be done effectively without training, but by standardizing the process, we help hiring managers compare applicants on relevant, job-specific criteria in a more objective light. Putting forth more consistent, strategic hiring practices will help ensure the best candidates are identified and made available for selection.