Interview Questions for Today’s Recruiting Landscape
By: Dona DeZube
Today’s recruiting environment has heaped unique and new challenges on the plates of human resource professionals and small business owners alike, particularly during the interview process.
A flattened management hierarchy has increased the need for employees with the soft skills to self-manage and to work well on teams.
Add to that high unemployment, which has made work history gaps commonplace.
And the increased popularity of social media tempts some employers to examine candidates’ social media history -- a practice that can potentially lead to employment discrimination charges.
Recruiting the right candidate depends on knowing how to interview and to ask questions about these three current issues.
These interview tips can help your success in the current recruiting environment:
When conducting an interview for soft skills, the best predictor of soft skills is information about how the person did in a previous job, says Jone Pearce, director of the Center for Global Leadership in The Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine.
Choose a prior project or task mentioned on the applicant’s resume and delve into the details by asking these behavioral interview questions:
What went well? What was most rewarding? Does the candidate take credit for the success of the project or mention co-workers’ efforts?
What didn’t go well? What was frustrating? Candidates with poor soft skills will blame others for failure.
How did you go about getting the project approved? Who did you approach, and how did you get that done? Does the candidate seek buy-in for new projects or go forward without permission and seek forgiveness later?
How were decisions made? Is the candidate's answer point to a team player or a lone wolf?
- Self-awareness of how actions affect co-workers
- Sensitivity to the needs and feelings of others
- Social intelligence and ability to influence co-workers
- Self-control, particularly when under deadline pressure
Work History Gaps
Given the condition of the overall economy, it’s no longer uncommon to see job applicants with work history gaps.
Knowing how to interview to uncover whether that work history gap was created by a poor economy or poor job performance is key.
Try these interviewing tips:
Start with a broad-based interview question: I see you left your last position six months ago; what have you been doing in between?
Follow up with a request for a reference: Is there someone I can call at that company who can talk about what you did there and your experiences?
When doing reference checking, start by asking a couple of reference checking questions that open the door for the reference to say something nice about the candidate.
Can you remember one of the best things the candidate did? What was the nature of their job? Then, ask the same questions you already asked the job seeker.
“If the person is pausing a lot, ask who else you can call,” says Pearce. “If they know someone is bad, they’ll refer you to someone with a big mouth who will talk.”
Body Language Clues
Knowing how to interview often comes down to trusting what the job seeker says about their work history.
Unless you hook candidates up to a polygraph, you can’t determine whether the applicant is lying about their work history, but you can look for nonverbal clues that indicate distress, says Joe Navarro, author of What Every BODY is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed Reading People.
If you ask a tough interview question -- Would your last employer give you a recommendation, or would they never take you back? -- the job seeker may be uncomfortable because they had a terrible boss, or because they were a terrible employee.
Navarro offers these interview body language clues to watch for:
Does the candidate grab their jewelry, rub their neck or touch their collar? “If you see that, there are issues,” Navarro says. “If someone’s eyelids come down and remain low, they’re bothered by the question. When the lips disappear, lip biting, lip compression, that’s indicative of some sort of stress.”
Another sign to watch for: prospective employees who are confident about gaps in their work history may put their chin forward when they answer tough interview questions.
Interview Questions about Social Media
As social media use has exploded, the temptation to use social media history as part of the hiring background check has increased.
Resist the temptation -- unless the job requires social media skills and your company has established social media recruiting guidelines.
Lori K. Long, associate professor and faculty fellow at the Center for Innovation and Growth at Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea, Ohio says her best interviewing tip is this:
“Don’t look at Facebook. If you explore Facebook, you’re getting access to information about candidates that you don’t want to know from a legal hiring perspective,” she says. “If people have pictures of church activities and children that can creep into your decision-making.”
There are few court opinions on the use of social media history in recruiting, and you don’t want your company to be the test case in this area, she warns.
“There are other valid, more legally safe selection tools out there.”
Long has two other social media history interviewing tips.
And second, use it to network. “It’s also a good way to know if there’s someone in your organization who knows someone who knows the candidate to see if you can get any background information.”
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