Monday May 22, 2017
"What makes you qualified for this position?"
"How do you deal with stressful situations?"
"Why did you choose this job?"
You might as well lull your applicant to sleep. Do you REALLY think they haven't already heard this line of questioning a million times before?
A lot of interviewers complain that they're getting the same kinds of candidates over and over, when they're looking for someone to wow them instead. Well, it's the nature of the interview that's to blame. You can't keep playing the same game and expecting a wildly different prize at the end. Here are some of the games I came up with to help expose the actual personalities of the people who wanted to work with me.
At one point, I needed to hire 2 secretaries to help me with phone calls. So naturally, I asked 30 applicants to come in for the same interview.
Since these were the people who would be interacting with our customers on a day to day basis, I had them each pick a partner and sit beside each other in their chosen pairs. Once they had all settled, I explained that ones on the left side of the pair would be role playing as angry customers, while the ones on the right side would be playing the Customer Service Representatives. It was the 'customers'' job to get angry and refuse to calm down, while it was the CSR's job to see if they could actually make the raging stop.
I gave them two minutes to yell and scream at each other, and after reveling in the glorious uproar, asked them to switch the roles they were playing.
So what was I trying to achieve with all the cacophony? I wanted to know just how catty some of the representatives could get. If they became too venomous, it was just as much of a warning sign as the CSR's who were really stumped by how to handle an angry customer. Also, the fact that I only had two openings available for the position meant that the applicants had to outdo each other. Anyone throwing people under the bus or acting snobby earned themselves a one way ticket to the discard pile.
In this case, hosting a group interview and having the applicants play an unexpected exercise allowed me to realistically gauge their personalities under stress, along with their feasibility for the position.
Yes, No, Kinda
Once I had eliminated 15 of the 30 applicants that turned up, I sat the rest down in front of me in one long, horizontal line. I began by drawing a picture on my clipboard and then instructed the poor souls to draw what I had drawn without seeing the original. In order to do so, they had to ask me questions - to which I could only respond with yes, no, or kinda. The only clue they had was that my drawing was a shape.
"Is it a square?" asked one of the ladies.
"Kinda..." I responded.
"Is it white?" asked another.
"Yes, but also kinda."
In the end, some of them were frustrated, while others were still confused. When I asked to see what they had drawn after conducting their rigorous interrogation, some of them had come extremely close to my drawing!
My objective however, was not to pick the one that got the closest, or disqualify the ones who were furthest from reality. I wanted to see who among them was extroverted, introverted and capable of asking the right questions! When dealing with customers, this is an extremely important skill - and even though some of the introverts came very close to drawing the same shape I had, they were the ones who sat in silence and went off what the others were asking. I didn't want those people either.
These are but two examples of unorthodox interviews you can conduct. It really takes a little bit of creativity and the certainty of which traits you'd like to see in your new hire. It's hard work to come up with the whole shebang, but I promise you - it's not only fun for you and your candidates, but it will give you a much closer read on who's the right fit for your company.