Stop making people jump through hoops and just make better assessments.
I’ve had a lot of jobs. Which means I’ve been on an insane amount of interviews.
Most interviews are the same. A manager has been tasked with making the right hiring decision, usually, they’re armed with a list of questions, and some information to offer the interviewee.
It can’t be easy choosing the right candidate, choosing the wrong candidate could mean wasting thousands of dollars per year. So I do understand the need for a thorough evaluation process.
But choosing a good employee is only partly about what’s in their resume and how they present in their interview, it’s also about chemistry and feelings.
- Do they seem genuine?
- Do they seem capable?
- Do they seem easy to work with?
When you’re looking for the right employee, stop asking them generic questions and just start making better assessments. The most basic information—skills, availability, and chemistry—should be all a candidate needs to demonstrate.
Here are 5 interview questions that need to be retired in 2020.
- What are your strengths & weaknesses?
- Why should I hire you?
- What makes you stand out?
- Tell me about yourself.
- Give me an example of…
Let’s break it down further:
What are your Strengths & Weaknesses?
A lot of people aren’t even familiar with their strengths and weaknesses. Some people believe they’re strong in one area because they’ve never been corrected, or told otherwise. Same with weaknesses. Asking someone to tell you what they’re good at is not the best way to get an accurate assessment.
Focus on the skills needed for the job you’re trying to fill. Ask the interviewee their experience in those areas, ask them to expand on those topics. Assess the interviewees' expertise by their knowledge and their ability to answer questions about the topics.
And just as a courtesy, don’t ask people what they’re bad at, it makes them feel bad.
Why Should I Hire you?
You should be able to determine why someone may or may not fit within your company dynamics. This question just sets people up for long pauses as they try to think past reasons like, “because I need a job, I have kids, I have bills to pay, I need to eat, I’m just trying to make it without begging…”
During an interview, you should be assessing the person from start to finish. Assessment should begin even before they arrive, it should start with their resume, their email or telephone skills, their demeanor when they arrive to the interview.
Aside from, “because I have the necessary skills and qualifications and I’m looking for a job,” what do you really expect them to say?
What Makes You Stand Out?
This question is impossible to answer. An interviewee doesn’t know anything about the other candidates so how could they determine what individual qualifier puts them ahead?
Additionally, the answer could be nonsense. People need jobs so they’re going to say whatever they think an interviewer needs to hear to get picked.
Further, why do they need to “stand out”? What’s wrong with good old-fashioned skills and work ethic? What kind of gems are you expecting to hire?
Tell me about yourself.
Way too open-ended.
Do you want to know what jobs I’ve held? What skills I possess? Where I go on vacation? What schools I’ve attended? If I’m married? If I journal?
What kind of answer are you looking for here? Ask specific questions. Don’t test your interviewers, assess them. Be specific. Interviews shouldn’t be uncomfortable on purpose.
Give Me an Example of…
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that 85% of these stories are made up or embellished anyway. People are going to say what the interviewers want to hear because as humans, we need jobs to survive.
It’s hard to keep track of all the problems we solve in our 40-hour/week, $70,000/year salary-with-benefits-job. We just get through the five days in between weekends as quickly as possible.
A story about a time when someone did a thing is not a good measuring stick for hirability.
Interviews are About Chemistry
If you’re not hiring for the most interesting job in the world, the basic skills and requirements should be enough.
Don’t make candidates jump through hoops to get a job that will probably barely cover their bills, offers minimal vacation time, and monopolizes their weekdays.
People get jobs to pay their bills. Some people are lucky enough to pursue fulfilling careers or design the exact life they love, but most people are working to live. They shouldn’t have to impress you with exciting stories or unique answers to get a paycheck.
Keep the focus on skills and ability. Be direct, straightforward, and if you really want to see a candidate for who they are, let them get comfortable in the interview.