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Three Things You Won’t Learn About a Candidate from a Job Interview

Three Things You ...
Source: Andy Pixel

Facilitating great job interviews is both an art AND a science (one we’ve been perfecting for the last 29 years, if we could take a moment to toot our own horn). But to achieve success, everything in your interview must be strategically approached and thoughtfully planned or you’re never going to get an accurate assessment of your candidate.

Mistakes in the “people business” not only cost a ton of time and money (Tony Hsieh from Zappos estimates their own bad hires have cost them more than $100M), they create endless headaches for the team you already have in place.

To help you out, we’ve compiled this short list of the three things most interviews don’t usually cover and the steps you can take to make sure YOU do!

1. Their Soft Skills

Although an interview is obviously an interpersonal situation, the one-on-one skills your candidate shows in an interview differ greatly from the soft skills they’ll need when working in a team setting, that is, the ability to communicate, collaborate, and deal with stress (and sometimes conflict) within a team.

Our VP of Recruiting, Steve Dempsey recommends having a skilled interviewer present candidates with theoretical situations created with your specific organization and culture in mind. You can then ask each how each one would navigate those situations. Since you know your culture best, it’s easy to judge whether or not their imagined actions would be appropriate within your group.

Another suggestion is to try candidates out in a mini-workgroup of employees, the group the candidate would be working with directly, if hired. Ask the group to complete a project then conduct a post-mortem where the team evaluates the candidate’s actions.

2. How They Actually Work

Just because a candidate sends a link to an award-winning website as part of his/her portfolio, for example, it doesn’t mean they built the entire thing.

To get an accurate picture of how a candidate actually works, you’ll need them to clearly outline their role in each project, so you can fully understand their capabilities and actual contributions to the business and team. If you’re unfamiliar with their field of work, have someone familiar with those deliverables help out by writing questions and letting you know what appropriate answers might be.

Once again, having a candidate work on an actual project, even a small one they can do themselves (which you’ll pay them for, of course), is an excellent way to see the candidate “in action.” It’s the only way you’re going to be able to fully establish their real work-style, habits, and approach to workload management—all things that can be key to their success as an employee. (We do this through our own temp to perm offering called Talent Bridge, which was created so clients would be able to see a client “in action” before they agree to hire.

3. Their Loyalty

Although no one can really tell the full scope of the loyalty of a person during that initial meeting, there are in fact a few questions you can ask to help identify whether the person sitting in front of you will blossom into an exceptional and loyal part of your team (even if it’s only for a short term position).
The key is to ask probing questions that hint to how the candidate may or may not demonstrate team and company loyalty. Forget those grandiose questions on ethics and morality (“You find $100 on the ground and no one is there to see you”) and focus instead on clues about the interviewee’s relationship with his or her supervisor and team their previous positions. Does she play the “blame game”? Does he talk incessantly about “office politics?” When you see a red flag, that’s the time you’ll want to dig down and hear more about how he or she handles situations with their managers and coworkers.


Need more assistance working on your interview techniques? Connect with your local Vitamin T office. We’d be glad to help you out!

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