Interviewing for Authenticity

Part 2 in the New Year, New Hires series.


Part 1 is entitled Kick Off The New Decade With A New Hire: A Refresher Course On Hiring

Happy new year and new decade to all!

As promised, I am sharing the second part in the series on hiring new employees for the new year.

After a lot of practice conducting face to face interviews and in being interviewed myself for corporate and entrepreneurial positions, I have collected a few thoughts and recommendations on how to get candidates to share their authentic self in the interview.

Sometimes, very over-rehearsed candidates tell you what they think you would want to hear. And that can be very persuasive and make you feel like you’ve got a winner. It can also lead to a hiring mistake.

At the outset of an interview, one of the most important things is to first get the candidate to relax.

Try to use a little careful humor and develop some common ground to make a connection and get a smile. It’s a little like what you would do if you were networking in a meeting with peers.

Put yourself in the persons shoes! If the whole interview seems like a test for the candidate, both of you will be uncomfortable and you won’t be able to get to know the person.

Please also tell them that you may make some notes throughout the conversation so that when you have your head down and are writing, it doesn’t make them nervous.

With today’s focus on team and group collaboration and working remotely, EQ or emotional IQ is as important as specific job skills.

So, the next most important thing, is to keep this question in the back of your mind “Would this person work well with our people or with me?” To learn the answers to that question, it is important to get at soft skills or emotional intelligence.

Write down your own goals for this interview and then a set of questions that will reach those goals.

Here is an example of goals I recently used:

  1. Good team player – Cooperative, pitches-in, stays positive, accepts other points of view
  2. Ability to engage or influence others to make a commitment – Good relationship skills, good listening skills, persistence in accommodating needs and in establishing a connection
  3. Good verbal and written communication skills because there will be lots of meetings and emails

Five core questions and listening prompts that can help you reach those interview goals:

1.  Why are you the best candidate for the job?

  • Listen for genuineness vs “canned answers”
  • “Because I have an MBA from Harvard,” or “Because I was a top salesperson,” are not great answers
  • However, “When I read about your organization, and compared it the work I have enjoyed the most in the past, it seemed like a perfect match based on these three things…”

2.  What workplace culture bests suits your work style?

  • Listen for examples of ability to adjust to an environment that is like yours –  fast-paced, loud and energetic; or very head’s down, everyone in their own cubicle 9 to 5.
  • Listen for examples of the ability to work with your company’s employees – are they boisterous TGIF party types or quiet independent workers.

3.  How do you build relationships with co-workers? What about with clients?

  • Co-workers: Listen for good workplace communications like asking others what they think of ideas accepting and respecting other’s opinions; that they are open to trying other ways of doing things or open to criticism or re-evaluation.
  • Clients: Listen to hear that they confirm a person’s needs before responding with a solution; that they are open to client comments good or bad considering them to be valuable for the company’s growth; that they believe in respect, in taking no for an answer and would offer to stay connected even if they receive a rejection.

4.  What do you develop new ideas or new ways of doing things?

  • Listen for the ability or need to brainstorm with others and/or to read about and try new ways of doing things.
  • Hear if they are willing to propose or offer changes to you and for their ability to explain ideas and give examples.

5. Ask for samples of their written communications and be sure to look them over for things such as courtesy, grammar, clarity, etc.

These are just a few ideas. I’m sure you will have more. Remember that there is nothing like a good fit for both you and the new employee and if the shoe doesn’t fit…well you know the rest.

Related articles:

Kick Off The New Decade With A New Hire: A Refresher Course On Hiring

Andrea Cotter
Andrea Cotter
Andrea Cotter is the Founder and President of Virgilio & Cotter, LLC where she focuses on Marketing and Communications Strategies specializing in the Health Care industries. She also teaches C-Suite Leadership in her role as an adjunct faculty member at NYU's School of Professional Studies. In addition to her own company, Andrea has had both a corporate and entrepreneurial career in marketing and communications as a Global Executive at IBM Corporation and as SVP and Chief Communications Officer at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), followed by a brand consultancy role at Straightline and a partnership in the workplace culture startup CultureTalk. She speaks several languages, including Spanish, Italian and French has done consulting work with clients in Europe, US and Asia.

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