“If I shrank you to the size of a nickel and put you in a blender, how would you escape?”
Great question… for a dinner party. Not so great when conducting an interview.
Google’s brain teasers of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s may be notorious and spark a lively debate after a few drinks. Yet Google’s current head of Human Resources, Laszlo Bock, has reiterated time and again that such questions are terrible tools for identifying potential top talent.
So if you want to conductive an effective interview – one that screens out candidates who have told a ‘little white lie’ about their skills or traits from those with the modesty of a nun – then read on.
1. Stay clear of brain teasers
See above. They only serve to make inflate the interviewer’s ego.
2. Don’t ask candidates to lie
We’ve all been through the hiring process as candidates enough times to know that the response to “What’s your biggest weakness?” has been thoroughly Googled. Cue an answer about a weakness that is really a strength.
The truth is, we all have strengths and weaknesses. Some are better about dressing them up than others, whilst some candidates are a little too honest.
If you really want to weed out the humble braggers, why not offer up your own weakness? That way the candidate will feel like they can be more honest. If you are still met with a strength-dressed-up-as-a-weakness, ask the candidate for a more honest example.
3. Be prepared with questions and follow-up questions
Prepare your interview questions in advance to cover the required skills/qualifications/experience and to assess culture fit.
Consider how you will probe deeper to eliminate candidates simply saying what you want to hear. Ask for an answer to a similar problem and see if there is any mismatch. (This is a common trick with psychological tests to eliminate people ‘playing the system’)
Do you fancy a ready-made list of cultural fit interview questions and the red flags you need to look for in candidates’ answers? If so, check out our resource: Top Interview Questions for Culture Fit
4. Reduce pre-interview stress
Brain teasers aside, there are many ways in which even the best talent can be daunted by interviews. How they respond when their future hopes and goals hang in the balance can be very different to how they’d respond to day-to-day work stresses.
Unless you’re interviewing for the future Wolf of Wall Street, then try to eliminate unnecessary pressures by providing information in advance to common worries such as:
- What will my interviewer be like?
Provide some background information or links to ‘Meet the Team’ pages and LinkedIn profiles.
- What will they ask?
Confirm the type of interview and the kind of questions they will be asked.
- What should I wear?
Tip: ‘smart casual’ can mean a lot of things! Try to be more specific.
Finally, consider eliminating the stress of arranging time off work. Why not consider video interviewing? It’s fast becoming the go-to first option for screening candidates as it’s more convenient and a better tool for screening for cultural fit early on.
Find out more: 5 benefits of video interviewing software
5. Use social media snooping to the candidate’s advantage – find a common interest
70% of employers use social media to screen candidates before hiring
The media is full of stories of employers snooping on candidates, leading to tips on how candidates can clean up their social media profile.
Snooping may undeservedly get bad press but it can also be used to the candidate’s advantage if they’ve not disclosed their hobbies or interests on their CV. If you’ve checked out a candidate’s social media presence, try to find a common interest or topic of conversation that will make the candidate feel relaxed.
6. Remember the 80:20 rule
Whilst the interview should be a two-way process, the reality is that the candidate needs longer to explain how they meet the role’s requirements. Aim to keep the conversation around 80:20 in favour of the candidate. The informal chat at the beginning of the interview and the “any questions” at the end are a great time for you to provide more information about the role and company.
7. Ask candidates to answer real problems
Competency questions have their place in the interview process. But if you want to assess how well a candidate would tackle problems in your business, you need to ask.
Consider a number of different problems or challenges that you or your team have faced and ask the candidate how they would address these.
Hiring for cultural fit is a MUST if you want your employees to stay the course and help drive success. This is something we do at Cast UK for our clients day-in-day-out (often with the use of video interviewing software).
Why not discover the top questions you need to ask to really get to know what makes your candidates tick and determine whether they are the right fit for your company?