Want Better Employees? Make Your Interviews Harder
Get insight on the real questions to ask.
By Karen Sams
Because the hiring process can be time-consuming and stressful for both companies and prospective employees, it’s understandable that hiring managers would want to make the experience easier for everyone involved.
But job interviews that extensively vet candidates actually lead to more satisfied employees, according to a Glassdoor study. Read on for tips on how to create an interview process that challenges applicants and results in a better match for your company.
Focus on Results—Not Job Descriptions
The typical hiring process usually begins with a job description — a list of duties and responsibilities. But [member name for quote] says practice owners should focus on results instead.
“At the end of the day, employers pay people to produce results, not perform activities and duties,” [name] says. Clearly outlining expected results may intimidate some applicants, but [name] says it will ultimately attract more result-oriented employees.
Go Beyond Standard Questions
It’s time to throw away that list of tired, open-ended interview questions, says Eric Mason, director of human resources for a professional services firm. The best interview questions surprise candidates and require them to think critically, he says.
“‘Tell me about yourself’ or ‘What are you really good at?’ will get you nothing but an eager pitch,” he says. “Instead, pose a problem to the applicant, and ask how they might go about solving it.”
Ask for Examples
Behavioral interviewing is a technique that requires candidates to provide specific examples of past behavior. “It asks candidates about their past work experiences as a way to determine if they will be successful in your organization,” says Mason. “Questions are typically framed as ‘Tell me about a time when…’”
Behavioral interviewing is more challenging for candidates than cookie-cutter interview questions, especially when the questions are tailored to the employer’s expectations for the position.
Asking follow-up questions to vague responses will give you a more complete portrait of the candidate’s experience as well. Probe for more details. For instance, ask “How exactly did you do that?” or “What was your role compared to the role of your colleagues?”
Have Candidates Teach You Something
All candidates come to interviews prepared to answer questions, but the best candidates also can share their knowledge. Set aside time in an interview for a candidate to demonstrate something new for you, or explain a technique or tool with which you have limited experience.
Give Them a Test Run
The best way to test a candidate’s skills is to see them work. For therapists who will be working with patients, this might mean having them demonstrate a tool or technique that would be used during treatment. For administrative or office staff, this could be a mock phone call or interaction with a challenging customer.
“I’ve seen companies do work demonstrations or even ask candidates to shadow current employees for an hour or two to see how they respond,” says Mason. “All of these reveal skills and proclivities — and how candidates react to new situations — better than any rigid set of interview questions.”