When interviewing potential candidates be as straightforward and as open as possible with the candidates about the interview process and throughout the interview stages. You want to be comparing apples with apples when it comes to value alignment with your company and the potential candidate. If you’re recruiting for.net developers, then you want to make sure that the questions and tests that you use are the same. If it’s a development role, then you want to be testing their coding skills; if it’s a sales role, then you want to be testing their sales ability and facilitation ability. Make sure that it’s relevant to the role that you’re recruiting for. Don’t just have a one size fits all recruitment process for every role.
Make sure your interviewers are trained in what they are looking for. Provide them with training on how to assess people, what equals a pass, what equals a fail. What do you do if you’re on the fence and how to use behavioural questions to assess the candidate’s true experience. Give them training on the unconscious bias because we all have it. It’s just about how being aware of what it is for each of us. The last point is around ensuring the diversity of interviewers. Make sure that when you’re putting your interviews together, you’ve got a level of diversity there to assist with an unbiased result and to demonstrate to the candidate that your a diverse organisation which is important to many candidates.
Whatever skills the candidate needs to have, you want to see them in your interview, you need to actually see them doing it. If it’s coding, they need to code. If it’s sales you give them a scenario and get them to talk through it, pretend that you’re the customer, get them to talk through that scenario as the salesperson. If it’s to run a workshop for you or facilitate something, get them to demonstrate this. Make sure it’s a safe space so that you get the best out of the candidate. I’m sure everyone has had a bad experience in an interview. It’s not about softening the interview process, it’s about being kind and empathetic during the process.
Think about the worst interviews that you’ve had and the best interviews that you’ve had. Let’s do it in a different way, a better way. When someone’s coming and working for you, they’re not going to be freaking out and nervous and stressed most of the time. So, you want to give them the chance to perform at their best, which means making them comfortable. Think about the environment when interviewing potential candidates, give them some water, make sure that you’re not sitting three people across a giant boardroom table and really intimidating them. So that safety factor is helpful.
So, you’ve checked their skills and now it’s about making sure that the values, the beliefs and the attitude is in line and it’s going to add to your culture. We all know that a bad apple spoils the whole lot. Prevention is much better than the cure in this regard. You really want to dig deep into your interviews to make sure you’re getting the right people. Behavioral-based questions should be created based on your values. This is one of the reasons that having those underlying values is so important. If your values are about learning, then ask them to tell you about the last time they learned something new. If your values are about teamwork or working well in a team then ask them about a time where they’ve helped their teammates with something.
Not a behavioural question but one of my favourite questions is to ask “if it wasn’t for money, what would you spend your time doing?” It gives a good insight into what someone’s passionate about. Another one that I really like is to “tell me about a time where you’ve improved something or where you’ve brought some innovation into your team.” You really need to tailor these to your specific organisational values but there’s plenty of examples on the internet available. One of the things that would be a red flag is if somebody can’t tell you about a time where they’ve failed or made a mistake. Always ask a candidate about a time where they have failed.
It does depend on your culture but I said no to a candidate once who answered the question about failure with “I don’t do anything unless I’m 100% sure that I’m going to succeed at it” and for the culture of the organisation that I was working in at the time, it just wasn’t a good fit. Our culture was all about trying, failing, being safe to fail and innovate. So that I would not have been the right fit and I would have been setting that person up to fail in the organisation. I gave that transparent feedback to that candidate at the end of our interview. After he was told by the recruiter that he was unsuccessful, I rang him and I had the conversation with him again. I asked him to come back in six months’ time if he’d gone away and attempted some new things with the risk of making some mistakes. In my experience when interviewing potential candidates there’s a level of honesty and transparency that people really appreciate and there’s no downside to that as a leader.