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Via Forbes : Why You Shouldn’t Ask Interview Questions That Candidates Are Prepared To Answer

Gaining access to the questions in advance of a test is called cheating in academic settings, and the penalties are typically quite severe. But when it comes to job interviews, also a test aimed at differentiating high and low performers, it’s a much different story.

Hiring for Attitude research shows that 46% of new employees will fail within 18 months of hire, and one of the big factors behind all these mis hires is the advantage job candidates have in gaming their interviews.

It’s not exactly cheating, but today’s job seekers do have abundant access to the most commonly asked interview questions. From books and learning programs on “how to ace the interview,” to Google searches for “most commonly asked interview questions” (which brings up over a billion responses), there’s ample opportunity for candidates to prepare and practice high performer-sounding responses to the interview questions most organizations ask.

Hiring managers must get smarter about the interview questions they are asking. It’s time to stop assuming that just because an interview question is popular that it’s effective. And once bad questions get eradicated, it’s time to start asking good interview questions that actually force your candidates to think. Because challenging candidates to respond in the moment (instead of rattling off well-rehearsed responses) greatly increases your chances of extracting the truth.

Revamping your interview questions starts with the knowledge that the only questions that reveal whether a candidate is a good match for your organization are questions that target the attitudes that matter most to your organization. The Hiring for Attitude research shows that 89% of new hire failure is due to attitude, namely coachability, emotional intelligence, motivation and temperament. Hiring for skills is important, but only 11% of new hires fail for lack of skills. Most organizations already know how to hire for skill, and so attitude is where we must focus.

The need to identify the truth about a candidate’s attitude immediately cancels out three of most commonly asked interview questions: Tell me about yourself? What are your strengths? and What are your weaknesses. Not only are these three questions extremely well-known to job seekers, but it’s also remarkably easy to conceive of and verbalize a ‘canned’ answer for every one of them. And those canned answers aren’t necessarily truthful.

Imagine that you ask a candidate, “Tell me about yourself.” It’s the rare individual who will truthfully respond, “Actually, I’m chronically tardy to work and I tend to have very contentious relationships with my bosses and coworkers.” Instead, you’re going to hear responses that sound like, “I’m a motivated self-starter,” or “I’m an aggressive problem solver.” And when you ask candidates to describe their weaknesses, you’re far more likely to hear, “Well, I have been told that I care too much and that I give too much of myself” than you are to hear, “I like to goof off all day and I bully my coworkers.”

The big problem with these three questions is that everybody has a canned answer for them, and not surprisingly, all those canned answers are positively skewed, and they tend to sound a lot alike. And when candidates’ answers sound the same, it’s nearly impossible to differentiate future high and low performers based on the answers they give to these questions.

One of the biggest litmus tests for whether an interview question is effective or not is whether it differentiates high and low performers (or people with great attitudes and not so a great attitudes). There’s very little time in an interview to determine whether somebody has the right attitude, so any question that doesn’t pass the test is a waste of time.

So, what kinds of questions should you be asking? Since the high performer attitudes that define an organization are unique to the organization, I suggest observing your current high and low performers for real-life work situations that reveal different attitudinal responses (e.g. high and low performers show clear attitudinal differences when given assignments that they don’t know how to complete).

Then, begin the question by asking: “Could you tell me about a time… “and insert the situation (e.g. “Could you tell me about a time you lacked the skills or knowledge to complete an assignment?”) “Could you…” (instead of “Tell me…” which is an intimidating command) invites conversation making candidates less guarded and more likely to reveal their real personality and attitude.

It’s important to always leave the question hanging. Tacking on: “…and tell me what you did to resolve/fix/etc. the situation” signals that you only want to hear about the one time they “turned failure around” instead of the potentially hundreds of times they did nothing to find a resolve. When interviewers leave questions open or hanging, high performers will naturally share their resolve (they are problem solvers) while low performers (problem bringers) will only talk about the problem. You can see examples of well-designed questions on the quiz “Could You Pass This Job Interview?”

A lot of people are more motivated to get the job than they are to do the job. Hiring for Attitude prevents you from hiring these low performers. So discover the attitudes that define your organization’s success and use those attitudes to build a hiring process, including the interview questions you ask, that allows you to identify and hire only the high performers you truly want.

Via Inc : Why Group Job Interviews Are Getting Insanely Popular (and How to Make Sure You Nail One)

Knowing how to stand out without putting others down is the secret to success.

If you are looking for work, or planning to in the near future, you should consider investing some time in learning how to perform well in group interviews. More companies than ever have been using them in their hiring processes. Why?

First, it saves time.

Coordinating on-site interviews for several candidates with various decision makers is time-consuming. Busy hiring managers don’t have extra time to do multiple on-on-one interviews. Group interviews allow hiring managers to maximize the time they spend interviewing by having it all fall on one day. Additionally, getting other key stakeholders in the room for a single interview is easier than trying to do it multiple times across various days. In short, group interviews speed up the hiring process.

Second, it lets the employer assess your culture-fit more effectively.

Group interviews put job seekers in a team-like situation. Watching how people interact during a group interview says a lot about how they’ll be on the job. The added stress of interviewing alongside what is essentially your competition for the job makes most folks’ true colors show. It’s much easier to spot who will be a better fit with the existing team. Personalities are revealed in a group interview more readily than in a one-on-one interview, where it’s tough to compare and contrast one job seeker’s responses to another’s.

That said, there’s one thing you can do in a group interview that can help you stand out for all the right reasons.

Treat every employee as if they’re the final decision maker — because they are!

While there are lots of tips and tricks that can help you navigate a group interview more effectively, the one I find myself coaching people on the most is how to treat each employee you meet. Without realizing it, your natural inclination will be to focus on impressing hiring managers the most. After all, it’s their decision who gets hired, right? Wrong. I find any company conducting a group interview is likely doing so because the hiring process is a group decision. In fact, many companies adopt this type of hiring process after having made a poor hire where some key red flags were missed due to the isolating nature of the one-on-one interview. Thus, they want to cover their bases and have a unanimous vote on who gets the job. For example…

She was completely uninterested in talking to anyone but the CEO.

A friend of mine in HR recently conducted a group interview at her company. They brought in five qualified candidates. One in particular had been heavily recruited by my friend from a competitor. She had heard great things about this woman and was convinced she was the front-runner for the role. Unfortunately, this top performer spent the entire group interview trying to impress the CEO while virtually ignoring the three other midlevel executives present. It didn’t matter who asked her a question, she focused on giving her highly animated responses to the CEO, acting as if nobody else was in the room. My HR friend said it became so comical that even the other candidates were smirking and giving each other knowing glances as she spoke. Her complete disrespect for the team cost her the job.

Show equal interest in all participants.

In a group interview, it’s vital to remember every employee in that room is there because they have a vested interest in who gets hired. Your job is to figure out how to make their work lives better. Why? The only way they’re going to choose you is if they can see themselves working with you to make their jobs easier! Thus, treat each person with equal respect, i.e., make eye contact with all parties as you answer questions. Your responses are important to everyone in the room, not just the person who asked the question.

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.