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Via Forbes : Why You Need To Begin Interview Questions With The Words ‘Could You’

A lot of commonly used behavioral interview questions begin with the phrase “Tell me about a time…” For example:

  • Tell me about a time when you faced a difficult situation.
  • Tell me about a time when you faced competing priorities.

But notice how each of those putative questions actually ends with a period and not a question mark? That means, in the simplest possible terms, that they’re not questions; in this case, they’re actually commands. And when you’re trying to get a candidate to reveal their true personality, issuing commands is a very bad way to go.

By contrast, when you add the words “could you” to the beginning of those commands, you actually get a really effective interview question. For example:

  • Could you tell me about a time when you faced a difficult situation?
  • Could you tell me about a time when you faced competing priorities?

These questions are going to relax candidates into revealing their underlying attitudes, and that gives you the information you need to avoid the 46% failure rate for new hires. You can see more questions like these (and how tough they are to answer) in the online quiz “Could You Pass This Job Interview?”

Now, before I explain why the phrase “could you” is so important, let me answer the one snarky comeback I frequently hear; by adding “could you tell me,” this has now become a question that could be answered “yes” or “no.” While that is technically accurate, in the context of a job interview, it’s not a problem for two reasons:

First, in job interviews, candidates are generally trying to impress, so the odds that they offer a ‘yes or no’ answer are very slim. Second, if a candidate actually did say “no” when asked “could you tell me…” then it would be a truly fantastic answer. You would have just learned something hugely important about them; namely that they would be an incredibly difficult person to manage in real life.

Imagine what a gift it would be if you asked a candidate “Could you tell me about a time when you faced a difficult situation?” and they looked you right in the eye and said “no.” You really couldn’t ask for any clearer signal to not hire someone than that “no.”

In an interview, you need to give candidates every opportunity to fail. The vast majority of interviewers are constantly pushing candidates to succeed. With most leaders’ verbal adroitness, they’re able to cajole the ‘correct’ answer out of most candidates, even the terrible ones. And that’s one of the reasons why there’s a 46% failure rate for new hires.

So, why else do we need to start interview questions with the words ‘could you’? It’s about letting the candidate feel like they have some measure of control in the interview process. People are generally pretty guarded when they’re in an interview. They may seem perfectly open, jovial, relaxed, etc., but that just means they’re good performers.

You want to get them to loosen up and lower some of those guards so they reveal what’s really going on inside. And one way to do that is to give them the feeling that they have more control in this process. It makes the interview feel less like an exam and more like a conversation.

When someone is getting hammered with questions, especially questions that start to sound like orders— “tell me about situation A, then you will tell me about situation B… “—it constantly reminds them that they are in a powerless position, and that everything they say is being critically judged. As a result, they become guarded and highly reticent in what they are willing to share.

In order to get people to open up in the responses they give to your questions, you want them to forget that they’re in a position without much power. Instead, you want them to feel that this is more like a conversation with a new friend. So when you ask “Could you tell me… ?” it’s a subtle way of saying: ‘You have control because you can choose whether or not you want to answer this question.’ Of course, no one is actually going to refuse to answer the question (or they know they’re not getting the job). But the fact that you’ve suggested they have a choice in the matter plants a psychological seed that they have more control, just like they would in a conversation with a friend. Thus they start to act more like they would in a friendly conversation (i.e. open and honest).

One final note: The specific words you select and how you choose to say them do matter in hiring. You can’t ham-handedly read a bad script and expect that you’re going to make great hires. This is a battle where subtlety matters, where small words make a big difference, and your performance is critical.

Via Business2Community : Effective Interview Tips for Hiring the Best Employees

Small businesses saw record profit levels in 2017, according to the 2018 NFIB Small Business Economic Trends Survey. If your business is seeing some success, you may be thinking about hiring. You’re not alone. The NFIB survey found 57% of business owners are hiring employees.

Choosing the right candidate isn’t easy though. So it’s important to create an effective interview to help you make an informed decision. Learn how to conduct an interview to better find out who a candidate really is, and whether or not they’re a good fit for your company.

Prep to make candidates at ease

It can be challenging to figure out if a candidate is right for the job if they’re overly nervous or uncomfortable. An efficient interview process that makes the job candidate feel at ease from the start can help you better understand whether they’d be a good fit for the role.

Gabrielle Bowden, HR director and assistant controller at The Bridges Club, says going right into the interview can “create an expectation of formality where candidates are hesitant to show their true selves.”

At the start of the interview, try asking an ice-breaker question. Here are some examples:

  • What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
  • What’s important to you in your career?
  • Tell me about yourself and what you’re interested in.
  • How has your job search been?

By asking these types of questions, you’re also building a relationship with the candidate. And this allows them to open up during the interview.

You can also send an email beforehand to give them an idea of what topics you’ll cover so they feel more prepared.

You want candidates to be themselves during the interview. The more comfortable they are during the process, the easier it is for you to see their personality and make an informed decision.

Ask behavioral questions

No matter the industry or type of job, candidates go into interviews expecting to be asked certain questions.

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • What kind of work environment do you prefer?

While you can ask these common questions, it may be more valuable to focus on asking behavioral questions. Asking behavioral questions will get more than a “yes” or a “no” answer. Candidates will have to reflect on their career and professional experiences, which can give you a better idea of their skills, how they think, and their problem-solving abilities.

Here are some examples of behavior-based questions:

  • Tell me about a time you encountered an issue and no one was around to help you. What did you do? A candidate’s answer to this question shows you how they think on their feet. It can show you how they work under pressure and if they were able to find a satisfactory solution. Ron Hamilton, who owns an HR consulting company, says the “best way to predict success on the job is to understand how the candidate behaved in similar situations in the past.”
  • Tell me your experience of having to work with a difficult team member. This could be an important question if you consider personality and team dynamics a priority. The candidate’s answer will show you whether they can work well with others. Team building and culture is important, so you want to make sure they can still do their work even if there are differences.
  • “What is your proudest accomplishment?” Or “Tell me about a time you overcame an obstacle.” This can show you how much perseverance the candidate has and how determined they are to find a solution. Pay attention to the details and how long they spent working towards the accomplishment or solution. It doesn’t have to be an epic success either; sometimes getting through the day-to-day obstacles or working through a budget issue can show you their dedication. Kristen Hamilton, co-founder and CEO of Koru, said, “A history of persevering through mind-numbing boredom can be one of the most valuable predictors of strong performance.”

Don’t forget to ask if they have any questions at the end of the interview. This can show you if your potential employee did any research about you or your company before the interview, Hamilton said. Unless the candidate was asking questions throughout the conversation, it could be a bad sign if they don’t have questions to ask at the end.

Questions to avoid

By law, there are questions you can’t ask during an interview. Despite this, some employers are still asking inappropriate questions. A recent study by the Associated Press and CNBC found 35 percent of people that interviewed for a job within the last 10 years were asked about their age.

Avoid asking questions on these topics:

  • Age
  • Race, ethnicity, or color
  • Gender
  • Country of national origin or birthplace
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Marital or family status
  • Pregnancy

Listen more

There’s a difference between hearing and actively listening. Listening to a candidate is an active skill. It means you’re paying close attention and being engaged.

When you’re listening, it can make for a more in-depth, thoughtful interview. Edward D. Hess, a professor at the University of Virginia, says anyone can be a more active listener by:

  • “Getting ready to listen.” When you’re sitting down with a job candidate to interview them, clear your mind and stay focused. Take a moment to breathe or meditate and get yourself in the right mindset for the interview. Be present and pay attention to their entire answer and what they have to tell you. Don’t multitask and try not to get distracted by other things.
  • “Go slow and reflect.” As you think about their answer, ask yourself if you understand the point they’re trying to convey. You can take this moment to ask a follow-up question and give the candidate an opportunity to elaborate.
  • “Try on another’s idea.” Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes to get a better idea of how they think or why they believe what they believe. Hess says this process will generally lead to conversation.

The next steps

At the end of each interview, it’s good practice to tell candidates when they can expect to hear back about the job. And depending on how well the interviews went, you may already know who you want to offer the job to. In this case, you can start crafting an offer letter.

If you need to bring in any candidates for another round of interviews, that’s OK, too. This can be an opportunity for the rest of your team to meet the candidate.

Since you’re hiring a new employee, make sure they have the proper protection they need if a work accident happens. Most businesses in the U.S. must buy workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ comp helps cover employees if something happens to them while on the job.

Effective interviews for the best hires

Hiring and interviewing new employees can be challenging. It’s a big decision that can have adverse effects on your business if you make the wrong choice. Hiring the best person for the job can be a game changer, however, as they’ll likely contribute to the continued success of your business.

You can make candidates comfortable, ask them better questions, and be a more engaged listener. Each of these things can create a more effective interview and help you find top talent for your business.

Via Fortune : How to Make Your Next Job Interview Count

As Fortune reports in a new feature story this week, employers are increasingly looking beyond traditional credentials to find job candidates whose life experiences show their “grit,” the persistence, resilience and creativity under pressure that can be a better proxy for success than any posh internship or Ivy League degree.

The growing importance of grit is changing the dynamics of the typical job interview. If you’re a job candidate, every conversation you have with a recruiter, a sponsor, or an interviewer is an opportunity to frame your story and telegraph your strengths through this new lens. And if you are the interviewer, you face the challenge of looking past preconceptions and connecting with unconventional candidates in order to find the talent your company needs.

Here are tips for navigating the interview, for people on either side of the desk.

3 Tips for Job Candidates

➜ Let your own light shine. Potential employers may not feel comfortable asking or talking about family struggles or difficult experiences like foster care. But if such experiences helped you develop and display strength, resilience, or ingenuity, bring them up. “We encourage young men to look at their story through the asset prism, not the deficit prism,” says Blair Taylor, former CEO of My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, an organization dedicated to improving the odds for men of color. (It’s now being folded into the Obama Foundation.)

Ask for help. When preparing for a hiring or advancement conversation, find a mentor to help you craft your talking points. “I’m always amazed at how few young employees of color seek out mentors or advice,” says Zackarie Lemelle, former CIO of Johnson & Johnson and current executive coach. The same can be said of folks of all ages and backgrounds who haven’t spent time at the most sought-after schools and workplaces. Many people in positions of authority “would gladly take the time to give you this type of feedback,” says Lemelle. “And they know how things work.”

Craft a story that people can share. It helps to shape your talking points into a narrative, with a beginning, middle, and end that an interviewer can remember and repeat. “Some of the most important conversations happen when the candidate is not in the room,” says Kailei Carr, director of the Emerge Academy, a women’s leadership-development program. “It’s critical that people with political clout and influence understand you well enough to be able to advocate on your behalf.”

3 Tips for Interviewers

➜ Stay open and curious. Hiring managers and interviewers can be prone to fixating on familiar keywords (schools, job titles, references) on résumés, overreacting to their presence or absence. “Remember that the person sitting in front of you is a stranger, no matter what their résumé does or doesn’t say,” says Carla J. Ogunrinde, chair of the Information Technology Senior Management Forum, an organization dedicated to advancing black professionals in tech. “You don’t know them. If you begin at that entry point, then curiosity is the only natural next step.”

➜ Let them try you on for size. Many companies give life-complexity candidates room to prove themselves by letting them audition for jobs, rather than just applying. “We let people come and sit side by side with us while we work on a real challenge,” says Briana van Strijp, head of people and culture for Anthemis, an investment and advisory fund focusing on digital financial services. Since collaboration is a key value, “it leads to richer interactions and actual conversations.”

➜ Share your own story. For applicants without elite educational backgrounds, interviews can be daunting. Opening up about your own life story can put an interviewee at ease, establishing rapport and trust. “Everyone has a story, everyone has stumbled, and everyone has succeeded,” says Salesforce’s Tony Prophet. Strategic disclosure can be disarming and lead to better conversations—giving the candidates a chance to describe the strengths they’re bringing to you. “It’s part of being an authentic leader,” he notes.

Via Madison.com : 4 Tips for Conducting Your First Interview

It’s natural for job candidates to be nervous going into the interview process. But if it’s your first time conducting an interview, you might experience your fair share of jitters as well. The truth is that while leading an interview isn’t rocket science, there are things you can do to make it run smoothly for everyone involved. If you feel like you’re going in blind, here are a few steps you can take to prepare.

1. Know the job inside and out

As an interviewer, it’s not just your job to vet candidates, but also make sure you’re providing the information they need to make informed decisions about the role that’s up for grabs. Before you kick off the interview process, make sure you really understand what the job in question entails. How will the person who gets hired end up spending his or her days? What expectations will there be for the role? And what sort of growth opportunities will the position allow for? These are the sort of details you’ll want to hammer out before you sit down and meet with candidates.

2. Study each candidate’s resume beforehand

You probably went through your share of resumes before landing on the right people to interview. But how much do you really remember about each individual candidate’s specific experience? Before you meet with each person you’ve called in, review his or her resume thoroughly, and pay attention to the parts you want to discuss face to face. You might even take the old school approach by printing each resume and highlighting the sections you want to bring up.

Along these lines, figure out what precise information you want clarity on before kicking off your interviews, and jot down notes so that you remember to follow up accordingly. For example, if you’re iffy about someone’s project management ability based on how that candidate’s resume reads, ask about a specific task he or she led and its outcome.

3. Have a list of key questions ready

Just as you should expect your prospective hires to come in for their interviews prepared, so too should you, as the interviewer, be ready with a list of essential questions you want to cover. Those might run the gamut from general job skill inquiries to specifics about a particular software or task. If you’re not quite sure where to begin, you can consult this list of essential interview questions, and tweak it to meet your needs.

4. Do a trial run

Whether you’re nervous about running an upcoming interview or want to polish your technique, it often pays to conduct a trial run before you find yourself sitting down with actual candidates. Enlist the help of a colleague or friend, and go through the motions to get a sense of which areas, if any, need improvement on your part.

For example, if you find that you’re being way too formal, you can work on relaxing and adjusting your tone and line of questioning. Or, if you find that you’re struggling to answer key questions about the role you’re looking to fill, you’ll have an opportunity to perfect your responses. Doing a trial run might also help you go into the live process with more confidence, so that’s reason enough to carve out some time to practice.

If you’re new to the world of conducting interviews, rest assured that as with any skill or task, you’re apt to get better at it over time. Until then, make a point of going in prepared so that you and your candidates have the best possible experience.

Via Tech Republic : How to find and interview nontraditional tech job candidates: Tips for managers

The tech talent shortage may require your company to find job candidates who lack a traditional computer science degree. Here’s how to overcome that barrier and find your next top performer.

The tech talent shortage is requiring many companies to think outside the box when it comes to finding employees to fill tech roles. This means looking beyond standard computer science graduates and expanding your search pool to include some nontraditional candidates, including those for whom tech is a second career, those with disabilities, and those from a variety of unrelated backgrounds.

“There are more positions open seeking computer science degrees than there are computer science degree graduates right now,” said Blake Angove, director of technology services at LaSalle Network. “So if you want to get your position filled in a timely manner and get the work done, you have to look at more nontraditional degrees.”

Often, other degrees include skills that can relate to IT roles, Angove said. For example, LaSalle Network recently placed an IT project manager with a history degree at a company. “They had strong writing skills, they had analytical skills, so those relate well to a project management position,” he said. “So even though it’s a technical role, the person is doing well on the job.”

Here are some tips for finding and interviewing candidates who could make a difference at your company.

Revamping job postings

Finding a candidate who can do the job often means rewriting job descriptions, said Mel Hennigan, talent expertise panelist for the Society for Human Resource Management.

“When you start to reverse engineer the position and you can base the requirements on what outcomes you need to achieve, you start to realize you can broaden your pool,” Hennigan said. “You no longer have to say, ‘You must have this degree to qualify for this position.’ Instead, it’s ‘You must meet these objectives,’ and that opens the spectrum up a lot.”

Many companies require a bachelor’s degree for every position, even administrative ones, Hennigan said. “You should really break it down into what tasks have to be performed in order to achieve success, and then let the best candidate win based on their skills and abilities rather than on their credentials,” she added.

For positions such as programmers, it’s easy to set up an online test that allows you to objectively judge whether or not they have the abilities to complete the job. “A recruiter no longer has to pick up the phone for the initial screen, when a recruiting tool can provide the candidate with a set of questions that will help qualify them or disqualify them, and it can do so based on their actual abilities rather than their credentials,” Hennigan said.

Budgeting for training to catch nontraditional employees up to speed will also allow you to make faster hires, and eventually make your company more competitive, Angove said. “We’re finding companies that are fortunate enough to have that budget to provide training or certification are loosening up some of the specific technical requirements and ramping the people up,” he added. Building a mentor program is also a successful and cost-effective way to help new employees learn more tech skills, Angove said.

Identifying skills, not degrees

Candidates build skills in many ways, all of which should be taken into consideration, said Kelli Jordan, IBM’s talent leader for New Collar Initiatives. “They can build it in a four-year degree program. They can build it in a computer science program at a community college, or in a boot camp,” she said. “What we like to focus on is that application of the skill, and a lot of that does come out in the interview process.”

IBM performs skills assessments for job candidates, regardless of their background. For example, when interviewing for a software development role, interviewers give candidates a coding exercise, examine their GitHub repository, and talk to them about the code they wrote.

The interview process for all job candidates includes behavioral questions about what a candidate has done previously, such as “Tell me about a situation where you had to evaluate competing priorities.” It also includes situational questions, which tend to work well for candidates with minimal experience, Jordan said. These are questions such as, “Walk me through how you might handle an upset client.”

“That’s going to help you to understand that candidate’s thought process and their potential future behaviors, and together, they help you build a really good picture,” Jordan said.

It’s key to listen for a nontraditional candidate’s intent, Jordan said. This person may have some great examples of how they have handled a situation in the past, but they may have applied that knowledge in a different way or setting. “Focus on the skill and the application of what they’ve done versus where they did it,” she added.

Making interview accommodations

To attract more diverse candidates, Microsoft undertook a number of inclusivity measures in recent years, including reworking job descriptions and training managers on interviewing nontraditional candidates, according to Neil Barnett, the company’s director of inclusive hiring.

About two and a half years ago, Microsoft created an autism hiring program. Of those hired, about half had applied to jobs at Microsoft previously.

But now, “we train managers and teams ahead of time on neurodiversity and disability etiquette,” Barnett said. “We believe that by demystifying and breaking down the stereotypes of disabilities, we can help eliminate any unconscious biases that recruiters, hiring managers and teams might have before they interview a candidate.”

Microsoft also trains hiring managers to offer job candidates the opportunity to ask and receive customizations for the interview. This might include performing a technical interview on their own familiar device, spacing more time between multiple interviews, or lengthening the time of each interview—which might allow someone with ADHD or a cognitive disability adequate time to think and respond to questions.

“Managers found that offering customizations have made all interviews more successful,” Barnett said. “Asking candidates what they need to have the most inclusive interview experience will pay off in finding untapped talent.”