Thursday, February 11, 2010

Clean Up Your Interview Questions!

Companies expect candidates to continue to advance their skills, stay on top of current industry trends and surpass expectations. So it should be no surprise that candidates expect the same from hiring companies. The interview process is constantly changing, and your process should be evolving with it. Below are some twists you can add to your tried-and-true interview questions in order to update them.

1. Interview Cliché: Tell me about yourself.
Why it’s weak: You may hear some information that’s valuable, but most likely you will get a synopsis of a resume you can read yourself, a blank stare, or some uncomfortable information.
New twist: Think about what you actually want to know from the candidate and ask. For example: The project mentioned in her cover letter that generated $500,000 in revenue? “What was one critical component in the creation of ABC project that you had responsibility in bringing to fruition?”

2. Interview Cliché: What is your biggest strength/weakness?
Why it’s weak: Answers to these questions are way too easy to fabricate. Often candidates answer as they’d like to see themselves, not how they are in reality. Likewise, asking a candidate for their biggest weakness will result in an answer that’s made to sound like strength, for example, “I’m sometimes too ambitious for my own good”
New twist: Ask for an example and follow up with questions. Biggest strength: How did it help you with this project? Biggest weakness: What did you learn from this?

3. Interview Cliché: How would your last boss describe you in five words?
Why it’s weak: When someone asks you to describe yourself, or how some else sees you, the results are likely to be inflated and overly positive.
New twist: Ask candidates questions that will allow them to display growth. “If I asked you to describe yourself going into your last job, what would you say? How would that description be different now?”

4. Interview Cliché: Describe a situation in which you have overcome a challenge or seen a project to its conclusion.
Why it’s weak: This type of question is too vague.
New twist: Ask questions that originate from accomplishments you find interesting on their resume. Try rephrasing this question with “What are you most proud of from the X campaign, and why?” You could follow up with a question like, “What would you do differently next time to make the campaign more successful?” or “How did this success spark ideas for your next project?”

5. Interview Cliché: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Why it’s weak: Candidates today barely know what their dinner plans are, much less where they want to be in five years. Many people move jobs often, and by pigeonholing them with this question, you could be missing out on a more revealing question.
New twist: Understand where a candidate’s head is at right now, while still learning what they hope to achieve. “What is the first thing you want to accomplish with this position?”

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