In interviews, candidates make impressions in a variety of ways. They dazzle or dull with their qualifications, work experiences, accomplishments, interpersonal and leadership styles, the manner in which they carry themselves and their intellect.
The last of these qualities is inferred from candidates’ academic performance, interests, accomplishments, problem-solving skills and in the logic and substance of answers they provide to questions posed. It is also gleaned from the questions they ask. Some candidates foolishly elect to ask few, if any, questions which reflects poorly on their perceived interest, preparation and perhaps even judgment. Others meanwhile do research and ask insightful questions about the business, the role, its issues and challenges that prompt the hiring manager to take note. At least once per week, a client will tell us how impressed they were with the insightfulness of questions a candidate posed during an interview. And then there are the variety of questions that force a potential employer to dig a little for more meaningful answers.
Consider just a couple such questions…
How will you measure my performance in the first 60 to 90 days? What about in one year? In other words, what will I have done to give you reason to believe you made the right decision in hiring me?
Companies tend to be most comfortable talking responsibilities and tasks. They also like to discuss outcomes, such as fixing or improving or scaling functions or departments. However, such outcomes are usually the result of a number of actions, decisions and behaviors which, taken together, make those outcomes possible. There is ‘what’ someone will do and ‘how’ someone will do it (to be extreme, think baseball bats versus pots of honey and carrots). Such questions nudge the hiring manager to be much more specific on what actions and they believe combine for success in that company. The answers provide candidates with all manner of insight in company values, style, not to mention the reasonableness of expectations within given timelines.
What makes your very best people your very best people?
While managers can give aspirational answers to questions about corporate culture and how decisions are made in their firms, question such as will unlock a little insight. What does a high performer look like at this company? Is it work ethic, drive, problem solving skills, creativity, results orientation, team skills, loyalty perhaps, attitude, personality? The order in which these are listed likely matters too so listen carefully for what is said and not said. The answers invariably lead to follow-up ‘why’ questions which in turn lead to even more useful insights into the company and whether it is likely to be a good fit.
About the Author
Robert Hebert is the founder and Managing Partner of StoneWood Group Inc., a leading executive search firm in Canada. Since 1981, he has helped firms across a wide range of sectors address their senior recruiting, assessment and leadership development requirements.
Contact Robert by email at [email protected] or call (1) 416-365-9494 EXT 777