Job interviews are a very interesting dance. Employers are trying to recruit great talent while simultaneously weeding through the endless fabrications and exaggerations of potentially under-qualified candidates. Most people don't really intend to lie, but they do try and present themselves in only the best possible light.
Hiring the wrong person can be expensive and damaging to company morale. You need to investigate prospective applicants thoroughly and, of course, that can be much easier said than done. Still, there are practiced ways. Here is my tip for getting to the truth, and more insights from my Inc. colleagues.
1. Ask about their youth.
It's fascinating what people will tell you when they don't think it matters. Most people don't connect the distant past to their present behavior, so ask them about regrets from their youth. You certainly don't have to eliminate a candidate for stupid stuff they did when they were young, but you can glean a lot by what they are willing to share and how they share it. Look for truth, contrition and perspective. Listen to see if they learned from mistakes of the past.
2. Ask follow up questions.
Ask an initial question. Then follow up: dig deeper to fully understand the situation described, determine exactly what the candidate did and did not do, and find out how things turned out. Follow-up questions don't have to be complicated. "Really?" "Wow... so what did he do?" "What did she say?" "What happened next?" "How did that work out?" All you have to do is keep the conversation going. At its best, an interview is really just a conversation. Jeff Haden--Owner's Manual
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3. Pitch them a real situation.
I have found that the best way to get past the bull in a job interview is to put prospective employees in real situations that they'll face on the job. If you're hiring an accountant, have them sit with someone in your accounting department and have them show you their stuff. If they're a salesperson, have the candidate sell you one of your company's products. References only get you so far--having job candidates do some real work in your presence takes you the rest of the way. Peter Economy--The Leadership Guy
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4. Get creative.
Skills are easy to test for but work ethic and other values are what make an extraordinary employee--so stop asking the same old dead-end interview questions and use a little imagination. For example, ask your candidate to imagine and describe the co-worker of his or her dreams. According to studies, those who envision co-workers as engaging in proactive behaviors or quickly recovering from failures were actually happier and more productive in their real-life work. This little game of imagination will offer valuable data on how your applicant sees the world, interprets events, and creates expectations of others. Marla Tabaka--The Successful Soloist
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5. Make the interview unpredictable.
The nature of our work is chaotic. In order to test out a candidate to see if they will fit in, I purposefully schedule a "rolling interview." Two people will start the interview. One person will leave about 15 or 20 minutes in. Soon after, a third will join. A few minutes later the original person will leave and so on, until all of the team members that need to meet the candidate get an opportunity to participate. The unpredictable nature of the interview allows us to see the candidate under pressure. We can gauge how they respond to questions from each of the team members, which can be repetitive. This has proven a great way to see if the candidate is a true fit. Eric Holtzclaw--Lean Forward
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