Updated: May 24
Ask better questions, get better answers. Ask the best questions, find the best candidate!
Have you ever prepared for an interview, got all of your examples ready and researched the hell out of a company only to be met with a disappointing interview, filled with all the usual suspects, such as:
Tell me about yourself
Why do you want to work here
Tell me about your biggest achievement in your last role
What is your biggest weakness
Why should we hire you
And the list goes on! These questions are very much surface-level. They are rinse and repeat and extremely average. Finding the right balance of questions can be tricky and I myself have attended interviews that make me NOT want to work at a company.
Interviewers really need to assess those first stages - because in a candidate market, the choice is all around. So if your business priority is to attract and retain the best talent, getting those first steps right is fundamental to success.
If as a candidate, you are asked the above standard, average questions, be ready to blow their socks off to make that lasting impression.
Interviewers ask these questions because, well, they don't know any better. Only in time can we really hone in those skills and start to ask more bold questions. Over the last 20 years or so I have interviewed thousands of people, all across Europe and The Middle East.
I view an interview as a conversation, the more at ease the candidate feels, the quicker you get to understand the real them. Not just the corporate Colin mask.
Interviewers should be asking more meaningful questions, the types of questions that really get under the skin of the candidate, to reveal the character.
With around one in five employees leaving their jobs during the probation period, it is critical to give the candidate a very upfront, real interview experience.
This is fundamentally the most important part of any candidate seeking process.
Hold an average, predictable, often dull interview you will not extract the very best out of the candidate.
It is time to get real and ask bolder questions.
Understanding each candidates competence is important yes - but more revealing is the character behind their decisions.
Asking better interview questions leads to a more interesting overview of a candidate. It becomes easier to hire the best person!
I'm pretty sure that almost anyone can learn the skills to 'do a job' with access all areas to information, one can learn SEO, Social Media, Copywriting, Project Management, Analysis and more inside a few focused months. Sure, they need to actually apply that learning!
Simply put, it is the character of a person that determines a few fundamental things that should matter to any business.
Non-tangible value added (culture and values...)
A persons adaptability. Navigated a pandemic lately? This skill matters
Zig Ziglar expertly put this as "You don't build a business, you build people, and then the people build the business"
How many talented, tech savvy and highly skilled people have you met throughout your career that are pig-headed, arrogant and a flippin' nightmare to work with?
A few? Me too!
I kind of like these people though - they tend to add some spice into the workplace, albeit misplaced, but nonetheless, they provide entertainment.
That being said, people with bad attitudes slow down progress.
These people enjoy seeking a problem for every solution!
Leading these people becomes time consuming and requires a great deal of energy, if you have the resource and capacity for that, then go for it. If not, it'll be time to kick off other types of conversations, but that's not for this article.
So, how can you know the persons character during an interview phase?
Well, today is your lucky day because I've listed a set of questions to extract the character out of a person.
Yes, during the interview you will be asking some competency questions and of course digging deeper into their motivations to work at your company. As I mentioned, these will give you surface level responses. Remember, the candidate wants to demonstrate the best version of themselves, you'll be met with polite, professional responses.
I want to help you unpeel the layers further to reveal the true character. The actual human being who could be joining your team! Exciting!
The types of questions to ask include:
Have you ever worked against a policy?
What was the trigger for you to work against that policy?
Who was effected by your actions?
When have you challenged leadership and what was the outcome?
How did you communicate with leadership during those moments?
Have you ever raised your voice to get your point across?
Have you knowingly stopped progress to a project and why?
When work progress slows down, why is that?
How do you recognise success in your team?
How do you ensure your Managers know about your own successes?
Tell me about a time where you failed?
How did you feel and respond when you failed?
What traits make a person great to work with?
If you felt exhausted in a morning, do you bring that to work/call in sick/self motivate...?
If you knew a colleague wasn't pulling their weight, what would you do?
Someone younger joins in a senior position, how do feel about that?
Someone challenges your work in-front of Management, how do you respond?
Other revealing exercises to do at interview stage are testing the candidates listening skills.
Why would this matter?
Listening skills are crucial to maintaining productive relationships.
Listening builds trust, it helps to eliminate conflict and reduces misunderstandings. It also helps to build your own leadership skills. So if your own goal is to climb that corporate ladder you'll be far more successful listening your way to the top as opposed to shouting your way there.
If you wanted to hold a listening exercise during an interview, you could simply read an extract from a book, ideally something interesting that is simple to visualise. The narrative should be rich and include things like the environment, the weather, how many people, the names, what did they see, were they walking fast or cycling slow....detailed narrative upto 400 words.
Then, ask the interviewee to share what they remember.
This gives you a good indication of how detailed they are, what do their active listening skills look like and how well they pay attention.
Retail Interview Questions and Answers are a blend of hard skills meets soft skills and the more digitised we become as a society, the more we need real humans on hand during our retail experiences. These employees are a tidal wave away from the current minimum wage retail culture, progressing and growing towards in-store data scientists, more emotionally intelligent employees with a huge heart to serve customers and clients.
Retail employees speak to the public (your customers) on a daily basis, and it's the person who is closest to the customer that wins!
In order to maximise your sales and conversion, you simply must hire the best candidate who has the best characteristics to take your customer experience to the next level.
In your next set of interviews, use my 60/40 formula. 60% of questions are character seeking and 40% are situational or competency based.
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