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Drop scripted interview questions for a smarter way to learn about job applicants

Thursday, December 21, 2017 - 09:00
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Are standardized job interviews a disservice to both the hiring company and to the job seeker? After a recent video job interview with a big-box auto parts retailer, I was inspired by our choreographed exchange to explore a more meaningful way for employers to bind an authentic hire.

After all, both sides share some legitimate concerns: Will they like working with each other? Can the employer’s needs be met?

After scouring multiple career advice columns, I’ve identified four effective approaches that hiring managers can use during interviews. These approaches – and the questions they generate –also can help job seekers gain a better sense of what potential employers value.

Strategy 1: Involve Employees. Many pairs of eyes are better than one during an interview because larger groups often produce a diversity of opinions about the candidate. This process is also more democratic. Thankfully, my interviewer went the extra mile by introducing her team to me.

All four of us enjoyed the benefit of sizing each other up as potential teammates who might be working with each other every day. Had only one person conducted this meeting, his or her biases and blind spots could have impaired the evaluation by overlooking my signs of curiosity, engagement or interest.

A Harvard Business Review article noted that by encouraging peer interviews and letting team members vote on who gets hired, companies can ensure that colleagues “will take more ownership of the hire and have reasons to help that person succeed.”

Strategy 2: Make a real connection. Closed-ended questions like “Tell me about yourself” are unproductive because most prospects – myself included – stress over saying the right words. During my interview, I responded to this traditional question by reciting my lines for wanting to become a category manager. Although I’d hoped to hit the target, their disinterested stares over the monitor signaled a dead-end silence.

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