“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day, you bet on people, not on strategies.” -Lawrence Bossidy, former COO of GE.
Hiring the right person can be a challenge.
Beyond realizing you need to add someone to your team, working with HR on a great job description, and sourcing great candidates, hiring well means doing interviews that result in insights about each candidate. That begins with good questions that increase the likelihood you'll get some type of x-ray of the person – showing more of them than they are likely to want you to see.
Most aren't purposely trying to hide anything -- yet not unlike a first date, preparation, advice and nerves can lead someone with good intentions to try and show you only their best behavior and most positive energy. That makes getting a clear picture a bit tough. If everyone walked into interviews calmly saying to themselves, “Let me just be myself and if it’s a fit, then great, and if not, well, then ok,” then more hires would fit well.
What’s very important, many think, is to have a collaborative hiring process (not just rely on your own opinions and interviews), and select for highly self-motivated people and passion (in addition to the right experience and skills), then train the rest.
“Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine." -David Ogilvy
There are many ideas for interview questions, and regardless if you like my list, you should search the web for "Great Interview Questions" and take in several lists.
Below are 12 questions I’ve come up with over the years – intended to avoid the predictable, create the highest likelihood for that x-ray to happen, ferret out the remarkable, and include elements of real-world behavioral interviewing (e.g., what they faced in the past, what they did, and what was the outcome) that I think are important.
My questions should be considered in addition to the skills and experience questions you have about their specific background. You should of course make these your own: Ask questions that “fit” the role, need, and your own style; in short, take what you can use from my list, below, and the other lists you find, and then come up with your own.
1. What’s the most important thing someone who wants to get to know you quickly should ask you? (Once they answer that, make sure to then ask them their own question.)
2. What’s an example of something you did in the last 12 months you would characterize as remarkable – what was the situation, what did you do, and what was the outcome?
3. If your most recent manager / boss / client (choose one) were in the room with us now, and I were to ask him or her what you most needed to work on in your own professional development in the year ahead, what would he or she say?
4. What was the biggest challenge at work you had to take on that didn’t end up the way you had hoped it would – explain the situation, what you did about it, and what was the outcome?
5. Do you tend to do better work at crunch time, or well in advance of a deadline? (You can say that both happen, but if given the choice, some people prefer to work better under a tight deadline, and others work better with plenty of time – both are fine, which do they prefer, if they had their druthers?)
6. What’s an example of something you took on to learn in your own professional development in the last 12 months – a class or course, an area of self-study, etc. What interested you about it, what did you learn, and how are you using it today?
7. Looking back over the years on your resume, when you think about the moves you’ve made from one type of job to another, or one company to another, what’s been the most important factor in propelling you to make the move?
8. Think about a job or project when you were at your absolute best. What was it about that situation that got you fired up?
9. Now think about a time when you were coasting, or simply not at your best at work. Based on that, what can tend to de-motivate you, or get you feeling less fired up in your work?
10. If you could design the ideal role for yourself what would it be and why?
11. If you could design your ideal boss or manager, what would it be about them you’d respect the most?
12. Is there anything I haven’t asked you that if we were to stop now, you’d leave feeling like we missed something important about you?
Of course it’s always good to turn the tables and ask what questions they have, and to write those questions down – what they ask – and what they don’t ask – both say a lot about them.