Let's face it: Interviews suck.
I say we try something new with interviews. I've already tested something for you to try on for size. It's pretty simple, really. But first, let's agree to dump all your behavioral interview questions, please? Now, lead with this one question:
You were born. Here we are. What happened in between?
I've completed around 500 interviews the last five years at my company, Torrent Consulting. I've heard a lot of stories. I've hired people who didn't last very long, and many who are thriving.
1. If they want it.
Use the opportunity to observe whether they really want to join your company, or if they're just trying to get the heck out of dodge (i.e. their current employment).
When the candidate self-directs to rattling of job experience, remind them that the question is to get to know them personally. I found that the people who breeze through sharing their personal story have taken little time to really process how this new job integrates into their life.
That doesn't mean they aren't qualified to do the the job and do it well, but it does call in to question whether they really want a new challenge, or just a different job. Look for candidates who can articulate how their personal mission and the company's mission are aligned.
Interview tip: Don't bring a resume to the interview. Tell the candidate you appreciate their experience but value the person over their resume, and that you want to use this time to get to know them, not have them rattle off past job descriptions.
2. If they fit.
Let's get real. As much as we want to boil business down to numbers and dollar signs, it's never that simple. Businesses go through different stages. People's personalities and experiences tend to fit better in certain stages than others.
Are you at the early startup stage where the word "process" is deemed evil and you only care about finding ways to make payroll? Someone who's procedural and task-oriented won't thrive at being employee No. 6.
Listen for answers like "I was the captain of our debate team" or "I saw my mother through cancer, and my whole life, I've focused on deriving more meaning from my work." If you ask people to share their story, you will get to know what makes them tick.
If being a Team Player is a core value of your business and the candidate tells you how growing up with athletics was critical to their development and wellbeing because they thrive in supporting and being part of a team, you'll have some insight on whether they'll make it in your culture.
Interview Tip: Bring your list of Core Values to the interview and see if the candidate's story hits on them. If you aren't making any connections, ask more direct questions around the core values to see if their story aligns to them.
3. If they can relate.
Organizations are just groups of people who must relate each day--to move product, information, innovation--to grow and survive. If a candidate can't relate to others easily, pass immediately.
More and more, work is about connecting and influencing. The ability to relate with others who aren't like you is essential. If the candidate's story is a sputtering of facts and bullet points, yellow flags should be going off.
Yes, they may just be nervous or used to traditional interviews, so dig deeper. If you're having a hard time connecting with them, think how hard it will be for employees and customers to connect with them.
Interview Tip: Look to see if the job candidate's story includes other characters. If they're self-absorbed and cannot connect their success and journey with others, they're not going to change with your company.
If you don't want to work every day with this person, pass.
Birds of a feather flock together. If you're a greedy venture capitalist, you probably work with people who are too. If you provide education to impoverished youth, I bet you know others who share that concern. If you like Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, I'm sure you have friends to watch the game with on Sundays.
Can you see yourself taking a road trip from New York to Los Angeles with this person after they gave their gut response answer to your question? If you can't, end the road trip now. There will be an exit eventually, anyway.
Go forth with this one simple question. Increase your candidate success rate and make interviews a little more enjoyable.