Tuesday, July 9, 2013

One Magical Question to Assess “Job Fit” When Interviewing

Many readers of this blog are involved in hiring, supervising and sometimes even firing employees. When was the last time that you (and your HR person if you have one) have looked at the standard set of interview questions to determine if the questions are really getting at what you are looking for in candidates?

The biggest challenge in an interview is to assess the “fit” of the person with the job. Have you ever interviewed someone with limited skill, training or experience, but your gut told you that they would be “great”? Did you hire them? Where you right or wrong about that gut feeling? It takes a leap of faith to hire someone because of their potential to learn the job rather than for their existing skill.

Finding people who fit the job is as important finding people with the education, skills and experience needed. A new hire who meets all formal criteria but who is not a good fit with the nature work, organizational culture and team composition will likely not last long. Employees who are mis-fits for the job may cost you a lot of hours coaching, giving feedback, disciplining and eventually (perhaps) firing him or her. Chances are your exit interview form does not have a tick box for “bad fit”, but it is a major factor in many early resignations and probationary dismissals.

So what’s the magic question? Here it is:

“If you could have any job, in any location, doing the kind of work you most want to do, what would it be? And Why?”

You are NOT looking for the candidate to say “Well, this job of course!” If they do so, they better give you a really honest answer “Why?” What you are looking for is a response that lines up with the most important aspects of the role you are hiring for. Look for qualities that are implied in the answer – do these align with the expectations of the position? If possible, write down each candidate’s response as an exact quote and discuss it with your interview team after the interview is over. You should discover some information that will help you make better hires.

Paula J. MacLean is the best-selling author of 5 human resource management books and books for volunteer boards and executive directors. Visit Silver Creek Press on Facebook for daily articles from across the web.

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