In my business journey, spanning from human resources roles to executive leadership, entrepreneurship and consulting, I’ve honed the elusive art of interviewing. It’s been a bit like discovering a superpower, useful not only for recruiting but also for everyday life. Picture this: my first interviews were more nerve-wracking than a rollercoaster ride. So, in today’s podcast, I’m dishing out a game-changing interview framework. We’ll explore three crucial sections: the job, the person, and the company. Plus, some of my favourite bonus questions to ask.
This is the second part of a two-part series tailor-made for all you leaders out there, whether you’re steering the ship in a big corporation or you’re the captain of your own startup.Haven’t listened to part one? Jump back and listen to Episode 53 where I share 5 top tips for creating a top-notch interview atmosphere, even if you’re not experienced at interviewing.
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[00:00:00] In my career, I have recruited hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Yes, back in the day, as a HR coordinator, HR manager, HR director, business owner, these skills of interviewing people have put me in good stead. Even for talking to people about renting my investment properties, being able to find what makes someone tick and what is going to be a good match both ways is an essential skill. Also, over the years, I’ve discovered that it is something that we don’t really get taught. I remember my first interviews being more nervous than the person I was interviewing. So today’s podcast, I will give you a framework on how to approach these interviews, so you feel like you’ve got some confidence to go into the conversation.
When you ask the right interview questions, it gives you insights to the candidate’s abilities and personalities. You can see how well they listen, how they prioritize tasks, and other key indicators that can help make the best choice before bringing a new team member on board.[00:01:00] Getting this right is so important because getting the wrong person costs a lot of time and a lot of money. And let’s just be really honest up front. You’re going to get it wrong and sometimes you need to get it wrong to learn about what you need. So consider the process of interviewing a learning process and hopefully these interview questions help make that learning process a bit faster and a bit less painful.
A good way to structure the interview is to break it up into three specific sections and this format allows for natural flow and ensures you cover all the important areas.
I tell candidates that we’ll be talking about three different things. We’ll be talking about the job, we’ll be talking about them, and we’ll also be talking about the company. I used to start talking about the person, but particularly in the current market where people apply for a lot of jobs and perhaps haven’t read the details, or you might be interviewing [00:02:00] and they don’t remember what the job is, I’ve found that the best way to start is actually to talk about the job, to remind them of the job that they applied for.
So this first section, the job, this is less about asking questions and more about sharing the role. I would share the job responsibilities and specific duties, share what a typical day looks like, share what success looks like in the position and growth opportunities, if there are any.
The second section is about the person, it’s finding out about them. Now you might say that it’s better to find out about them before you tell them about the job, because they might tailor their answers. Hey, if they tailor their answers, it means they know how to listen and they know how to apply information. And that is a great interview skill in my book. So the second section about the person, this is the heart of the interview. You find out who the candidate is, their internal motivations, how they work and here are some great questions to ask in this part of the interview.
Can you give me a five minute overview of what you’ve been doing in your career to date?[00:03:00] What are you looking for in a role? What drew you to this role?
Right now, what is the most important thing to you from the following list? Flexibility, Salary, Career Growth, Work Relationships, and you can add anything else you like to this list.
Some people would prefer more flexibility, and they would choose that over career growth. Others are all about career growth and salary progression. They may be willing to take a lower salary now, but they need the guarantee that there will be growth. Someone else might be all about salary and they might be willing to sacrifice flexibility or work relationships or career growth to get that high salary now.
And asking this question, often the candidate hasn’t thought about it themselves, so it’s a great conversation point. And remember, you will personally have a preference, but that doesn’t mean it’s their preference, and don’t judge their preference.
So in this section and all of the interview, you want to avoid close-ended questions, like the typical yes, [00:04:00] no. The number of times I’ve sat in an interview and I’ve had the hiring manager say, Can you use this software? Do you know how to write tenders? And they just say yes. So instead, you want to be asking ‘how’ questions. “How do you go about writing copy?” “What’s your process for completing a tender?”, “Please show me an example of your work and talk me through how you approach it”, “What gives you the most satisfaction in your work?”
These are all great HOW questions. So once you’ve found out about the person, and previously you talked to them about the job. Now you want to share a bit about your company, particularly if the role you’re looking for is a standard role, that might be a VA or it might be an engineering role, or it could be a contract administrator where all companies have a very similar role and very similar career trajectory.
The difference is the company.the same thing as if it is your business. The person is joining your vision. So this is where you share bits about the [00:05:00] company. Some things that you can share are the company’s purpose, mission, values, and your ideal clients. You can share what stage it’s in now, and what you have planned for the future. And you can also share who else is in the team and who they’ll be working with, if there is anybody in that.
You can also ask them what they know about the company so far. So you can hear what they’ve heard about you in the market. You can also see how well they’ve researched you, but some people also find that as a bit of a test and they can panic. So just keep that in mind.
There’s also a couple of bonus questions that I like to offer, which is: what are you looking for in a leader? How can I support you to be successful? And what questions do you have for me? Now, also when you’re interviewing somebody, it’s common to ask for some references of people that they’ve worked with.
And my favorite extra bonus question is around these references. So if I ask you what you’re like to work with, you’ll share a certain trait. If I ask you [00:06:00] what a manager says you like to work with, it taps into a different part of your brain. So ask the candidate for the name of the recent manager. Then say, “if I asked <manager name>, what you like to work with, what would they say?” This question gives you an honest answer through someone else’s lens.
When I work with clients, either within companies or Founders of their own businesses, I work with them and create an interview guide for each position so they feel confident and competent going into those interviews. I’ve also sat in on interviews with them and helped them with the process to ensure that they’re getting the right fit.
After you’ve completed the interview, they need to compare the candidates, if you’ve got more than one. And I like to look for three different things. I like to look for the skills, how competent are they at the job? The will. How willing are they? What’s their attitude like? And the third one, values. Do their values align to your company’s?
I hope today’s podcast has helped you to understand some [00:07:00] interview questions to ask. If you’re looking for some support in creating your interview guides, you can reach out to me at zenithjourney. com or by clicking on the link in the show notes. Thanks for listening.
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