NEW NORMAL - The one interview question that tells you if the candidate is right for the job
According to Jobvite’s 2021 Job Seeker Nation Report, the importance of company culture in the decision to accept or leave a job has skyrocketed, with 86% of those surveyed saying it is somewhat or very important.
Cultures evolve over time, generations even, and it takes enormous and holistic effort to truly change a culture. Hiring managers need to be realistic about what the day-to-day is in their organization and on this particular team. While you might be thinking you don’t want to scare away great talent, don’t worry: Your culture will do that handily if the IRL situation isn’t what you sold. To get the fit right, managers need to both objectively assess and reflect their workplace while getting to the heart of what makes a candidate tick.
And that leads me to the first question I ask all job candidates: “What’s your story?”
I generally preface this by reminding the interviewee I’ve already read your resume so there’s no need to walk me through it. I’m looking to better understand you as a person. That said, 85% of candidates appear stumped by the question and generally recite their resumes anyway. That, in itself, tells you something, right?
So what happens if someone whiffs this answer or recites their resume? Try these follow-ups:
Tell me about an amazing day at work: What happened and why did it make you feel so good?
Conversely, tell me about a terrible day at work: What happened and why did it make you feel so bad?
I generally ask these questions anyway because they get a level deeper into what truly drives this candidate and what is likely to drive them out.
Again, the answers are almost always illuminating.
As a hiring manager, you don’t want to be searching for a replacement in three to six months. So it’s important to take the time to get to know the top candidates and to know yourself. Try writing out your own story and get comfortable sharing it with job prospects. You’ll find it forces you to define who you are and what you want, what you’re good at, and what you don’t care to be good at. Plus, you’ll be more sympathetic when an incredible job candidate is fumbling to find the right words. Also, there’s the opportunity to ask someone to send you their story before or after the interview so they too can be thoughtful. Either way, it’s the information you’re after, not a speed test.
And for interviewees, remember this is a two-sided interview. You get to ask the same question of the interviewer and seek a better understanding of your possible new work environment.
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