Employers do not undertake the hiring process by searching for candidates that will not measure up. Yet, selecting employees that do not fit the bill is all too common, what will ultimately cost your company in productivity and morale. If you plan to hire this year, aim for the stars and you won’t be disappointed. That is, provided you ask your candidates several important questions as part of a careful vetting process.
1. Tell me — what do you know about our business? Is there anything you would like to see changed? These leading questions are designed to help you assess two things about any job candidate. First, what do they know about your business? Second, what about your business would they like to see changed? The two go together as they both will reveal just how well this person did his or her research. You also want someone who not only identifies a problem, but has solutions to offer.
2. What do you do in your spare time? This question is designed to gauge a few things, notwithstanding your interest in knowing if a candidate is looking for ways to improve himself. If the person is a reader, that’s good. But beyond fiction and hobby stories, you want someone how is also reading material to help him grow. If the answers involve music, hobbies or volunteer work, then listen carefully — he may be pursuing something that would enhance his job or people skills.
3. What accomplishment at your current job are you most satisfied with? This answer can tell you a lot about a person and their abilities. If she mentions that she was the “employee of the month” for one month over seven years of employment and offers nothing else of substance, it is doubtful that you will be impressed. On the other hand, if she points out how she has been promoted to increasingly more impressive roles, than this candidate should be placed on your short list.
4. Did you ever solve a problem for your employer that made a difference? You can be more specific here or general — it really does not matter. What you want to uncover is how this person worked through a problem and what was the result. You can learn a lot about a person, by the way he answers: if his answer is critical about the people he worked with, then you probably won’t be happy having him as an employee. Likely, the same complaints he had about his previous coworkers will surface in the new job. On the other hand, if demonstrates resourceful by solving a difficult problem, you may have a skilled thinker on your hands. Consequently, you have a strong candidate to consider.
5. How important have team sports been in your life? Successful people may engage in sports with the intent to win. If your candidate was or still is involved in team sports, then you have an individual that can handle working in a group, strategizing, and finding a way to win. Moreover, this person likely is in good physical shape and would be better suited to handle the rigors of the job. Sports-minded people are team players, too, or just the type of individual you will want to hire.
These are only five of the questions you will want to ask of most any candidate under consideration. They’re the questions you want to ask in the initial interview, moving candidates forward to the next round only if you’re satisfied with their answers.
If the position comes down to two or three candidates you can call your weakest candidate in and explain that he or she may not be right for the job. Here, you will learn how “hungry” this individual is by whether they agree with your statement and move on or offer a persuasive and compelling reason why you should reconsider.
For senior-level employees, you will want to put this person through at least three rounds of interviews with your top executives also weighing in. Never hire anyone who doesn’t have a optimal job history and who isn’t the consensus choice among your team.