Interview question to find the right candidate

Hiring expertise is the hardest factor a supervisor does. Interval. I believed I’d cracked the code on this course of a couple of decade in the past by conducting a number of interviews, sharing a dinner with entrance runners, calling references not supplied. And but, my odds of success have been about the identical as roulette.

Hiring and conserving expertise was difficult even earlier than COVID led to tens of millions of individuals leaving their jobs or the workforce. That actuality solely elevated throughout the final two years, with firm tradition taking part in an essential function in whether or not to keep or go. In accordance to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, greater than 38 million Americans stop their jobs in 2021, not together with the December numbers that haven’t been launched but. And tradition performs an essential function. In accordance to Jobvite’s 2021 Job Seeker Nation Report, the significance of firm tradition in the resolution to settle for or go away a job has skyrocketed, with 86% of these surveyed saying it’s considerably or crucial.

Cultures evolve over time, generations even, and it takes monumental and holistic effort to actually change a tradition. Hiring managers want to be sensible about what the day-to-day is of their group and on this explicit workforce. Whilst you is perhaps pondering you don’t need to scare away nice expertise, don’t fear: Your tradition will do this handily if the IRL state of affairs isn’t what you offered. To get the match right, managers want to each objectively assess and mirror their office whereas getting to the coronary heart of what makes a candidate tick.


For instance, when you work in a tightly hierarchal surroundings that requires layers of approvals to get something finished, it’s not going a spot a tough charger with a bias for motion would succeed. If it’s a fast-paced surroundings and your candidate is an individual extra comfy ruminating for weeks or months, additionally not an excellent match. And that leads me to the first question I ask all job candidates: “What’s your story?”

I typically preface this by reminding the interviewee I’ve already learn your resume so there’s no want to stroll me via it. I’m trying to higher perceive you as an individual. That stated, 85% of candidates seem stumped by the question and customarily recite their resumes anyway. That, in itself, tells you one thing, right?

I keep in mind the first time I used to be requested this question. Wholly unprepared, I meandered round the excessive factors of my profession as a journalist after which as a PR particular person earlier than the interviewer stated, So that you’ve been a communicator for twenty years.” Sure! Extra precisely, I’ve been a communicator and a storyteller my complete life, beginning in childhood and persevering with right now. It might be unattainable for me to be in any function or firm that didn’t worth these traits and expertise.

One candidate not way back responded to this question by telling me she’d been a live performance pianist who had an damage and had to stop throughout faculty. She then took a deliberate strategy to establish what additionally fueled her ardour and launched into a profession in company communications. Right here’s what I realized: She’s resilient, is aware of who she is, and is purposeful in her pursuit of a problem. 

Some people have shared how highschool or faculty sports activities framed their worldview or how quitting a task to maintain a sick member of the family led them to reevaluate their profession and the function it performed of their life. Being a part of a workforce in your early life often situations an individual to collaborate and work nicely with others whereas pursuing the win. Not a nasty mixture. Somebody making the robust alternative to take care of an ailing liked one and being considerate sufficient to see it as a chance for change suggests they’re each insightful, selfless, and assured.

So what occurs if somebody whiffs this reply or recites their resume? Strive these follow-ups:

  • Inform me about a tremendous day at work: What occurred and why did it make you are feeling so good?
  • Conversely, inform me a couple of horrible day at work: What occurred and why did it make you are feeling so dangerous?

I typically ask these questions anyway as a result of they get a stage deeper into what actually drives this candidate and what’s seemingly to drive them out.


Once more, the solutions are nearly at all times illuminating. One candidate instructed me about main a giant challenge at the request of a high-profile CEO after which having that particular person loudly question the total endeavor in a room full of individuals. One other admitted they don’t do nicely in extremely political environments, which opened one other path to discover and higher perceive since any group bigger than three has some type of politics.

As a hiring supervisor, you don’t need to be looking for a alternative in three to six months. So it’s essential to take the time to get to know the high candidates and to know your self. Strive writing out your personal story and get comfy sharing it with job prospects. You’ll find it forces you to outline who you’re and what you need, what you’re good at, and what you don’t care to be good at. Plus, you’ll be extra sympathetic when an unimaginable job candidate is fumbling to find the right phrases. Additionally, there’s the alternative to ask somebody to ship you their story earlier than or after the interview in order that they too might be considerate. Both manner, it’s the data you’re after, not a velocity take a look at.

And for interviewees, keep in mind this can be a two-sided interview. You get to ask the identical question of the interviewer and search a greater understanding of your potential new work surroundings.

Anne Marie Squeo is CEO and founding father of Proof Point Communications, a boutique advertising and communications agency, and a former Pulitzer Prize-winning enterprise journalist.