Today’s recruiting environment has heaped new challenges on human resource professionals and small business owners, particularly during the interview process. A flattened management hierarchy has increased the need for employees with soft skills to self-manage and to work well on teams.
Now, recruiting the right candidate depends more than ever on knowing how to interview and how to ask the right questions. Using unique interview questions is one of the ways you can find the right skills in your applicants.
Ask questions to identify soft skills
When interviewing for soft skills, the best predictor 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 specific project or task, and ask behavioral interview questions, such as:
- What went well with that task? What was most rewarding? (Does the candidate take credit for the success of the project or does she mention co-workers’ efforts?)
- What didn’t go well? What did co-workers have to do with it? (Candidates with poor soft skills will blame others for failure.)
- How did you go about getting the project approved? Whom 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?)
As the candidate answers these unique interview questions, screen for characteristics that objectively indicate their social skills, including:
- Self-awareness of how their 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
Inquire about work history gaps
In a changing economy, it’s common to see job applicants with gaps in their work history. 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 checks, start by asking a couple of 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 unique interview questions you asked the job-seeker to test for behavior.
Keep an eye on body language
Unless you have a polygraph, you can’t determine whether applicants are lying about their work history. However, you can look for nonverbal clues, says Joe Navarro, author of What Every BODY is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed Reading People.
Do they 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 may put their chin forward when answering tough interview questions. That suggests they are confident about their answers.
Monster can help you find uniquely qualified job candidates
Unique interview questions—and techniques—are keys to successful hiring, but only if you also have a comprehensive recruiting strategy. Get help with your strategy by signing up for Monster Hiring Solutions, where you’ll get expert pointers on recruiting, the latest hiring trends, and even some unbeatable deals for your business.
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