As the leader of a high-growth company, you should be spending at least 50 percent of your time on people-related functions like recruiting and hiring; more importantly, it should be spent wisely. That means not rushing into an interview winging it - as a matter of fact, research shows that hiring managers make worse hiring decisions after an interview than if they just hired someone off their resume. If you're running into interviews without a predetermined line of questioning, you're actually doing more harm than good.
There are four simple interview questions that uncover whether or not your candidate has a high likelihood of being a top-quartile performer in any professional role, from sales to management to receptionist. Ask these questions in your next interview:
1. "When was the last time you were so frustrated at your job that you wanted to quit?"
Everyone gets frustrated at work. What differs from person to person is how they react and respond to negative events when they happen; this reaction is governed by their natural disposition towards the act of working. Research on workplace attitude indicates a person typically has either a positive or negative disposition towards working--and that individuals with a positive disposition are more likely to be top performers than those who don't.
Someone with a positive disposition towards work will go out of their way to answer this question using positive language. You'll hear an answer such as, "While the situation was frustrating, and ultimately led to my decision to look for new employment, I am grateful to that organization for teaching me this business." Someone with a negative disposition towards work will say things like, "That place is a mess. I can't wait to leave." When you hear the negativity fly, pass.
2. "When was the last time you set a challenging professional goal that you failed to achieve?"
It's okay that someone missed a goal. What's predictive is whether or not they felt accountable for that outcome. In psychology parlance, accountability is referred to as the locus of control, and research shows that individuals with an internal--versus external--locus of control are overwhelmingly more likely to be top performers in their job.
A job candidate with an internal locus of control will answer this question by saying things like, "I should have done a better job allocating my team so that they were successful." Someone with an external locus of control will tell you, "They didn't give me the resources I needed to be successful."
3. "When you go home at the end of the day, how do you know that you've had a good day?"
Individuals who have demonstrated the ability to work in an environment where their performance is actively monitored and measured by their supervisor are more likely to be a top performer in their next job. In short, if you're being asked to hit a number or critical metric, and are successful hitting that target, you're more likely to be able to do so for future roles.
Someone who is working in a role where their performance is actively managed will answer this question using a number, or some quantifiable outcome. For example, "At the end of the day, if I was able to set 3 new meetings with new qualified prospects, that was a good day," is a great answer that demonstrates a clear understanding of the goal. Contrast that with an answer like, "If I set some appointments, I had a good day." How many appointments? Did anyone care?
4. "What systems or tools do you need in order to be successful doing what we're asking you to do?"
Less than 50 percent of what makes a person successful in their role has anything to do with their job experience. According to the research, the majority of the factors that lead to success are things like systems, tools and company scale. Does your company offer an environment similar to the one in which they've been a top performer?
What makes someone successful at a large organization? Often times it's the fact that they have technology support, large teams to share the workload and proven, defined business processes. In an entrepreneurial organization, success factors are often their ability to act as a utility player, to improvise and to "get sh*t done." When you take someone from a large company and put them into a smaller one, you've removed all of the factors that supported their success. When you put the startup veteran into the large company, the bureaucracy can be frustrating and counterproductive. Understanding whether or not your candidate can be successful in an environment like yours is a critical element in the overall hiring decision.
These four interview questions will lead you to make better, more informed hiring decisions. Use them with confidence.