What I’ve learned over time is that interviewing for a new position in your business is an art as well as a science. Many businesses don’t have a strategy around the interview process and think that posting an ad on LinkedIN, Monster.com, or one of the various sites out there is enough.
Assuming that you have a recruitment strategy, know how to find your ideal candidate and how to reach them, the next big step is how do you skillfully vet a candidate during an interview for brand-fit?
1. Get Clear about your Company Culture
Tony Hsieh of Zappos knows about the importance of brand-fit when hiring. It could be the most important decision you make in your business. If you hire the wrong person, think about all of the wrong decisions they will make down the road. The ripple effect is immense when considering a company’s cultural fit as well as the productivity and efficiency of a high-performance environment.
2. Notice if candidates follow directions
One important detail is to track if candidates follow your directions for what to send in, how to follow your protocol, and paying attention to details. This test of competence often goes a long way in measuring the competence of later performance. They say how you do anything is how you do everything. Are they putting their care and attention to detail by including all of the information you requested? Are they following the protocol you specifically asked for?
3. Punch them until their fluids come out
I remember reading a candidate’s resume and was a bit intimidated by his professional experience. He had 25 plus years of executive management experience, launching and building successful companies, and managing hundreds of employees. He seemed overqualified on paper and I was wondering why he was applying for this position. My director at the time also saw his resume and handed it back to me and half-jokingly said, “punch him until his fluids come out.” Meaning: don’t be fooled by the facade and get in there, challenge him, and see how he responds.
During the interview, I gathered very quickly that he had zero conversational or relational skills and I couldn’t feel his passion, which this position definitely required. I challenged him several times in asking different questions about his growing edges and what his challenge would be in this position, etc. He couldn’t answer me, and in-fact, didn’t want to own any shortcomings or areas of challenge. When I reflected this back to him at the end of the interview, his defensiveness continued, which confirmed that he wasn’t the right candidate for this position.
4. Be Willing to Ask the Tough Questions
Often there’s a tendency to care-take interviewees as everyone knows it can be an incredibly nervous experience. If you find that you are avoiding questions that you want to ask or going soft on them, this is a clue that something’s off in the process. Instead, treat them like adults and remember that everyone is selling their best image of themselves, so how can you get underneath that and ask them the questions that reveal more of who they are and how they respond to situations?
I always ask scenario questions of a likely situation. This avoids canned responses and tests the candidate to think on their feet. I am vetting candidates to see if they resonate with the company values and asking the tough questions often brings more realness into the interview process.
5. Trust Your Gut and Veer From Course if Need Be
While it is imperative to have some form of a script or game plan for interviews, be willing to veer off course if you are led in a particular direction. Some of my best moments of really getting a sense of a candidate was when I trusted my intuition and asked the question that wanted to be asked, especially the ones that weren't planned.