Experiential Interviewing

How to Tell if a Job Candidate’s Ability Matches His Resume: 4 Tips to Help Weed Out Future Bad Hires and Choose the Best Candidates Every Time

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It’s always exciting when you receive a resume from a job candidate who seems like a great fit. It’s even more exciting when the candidate nails the interview. And there’s nothing quite like the relief and satisfaction you feel when the person accepts the position. Now you’ve got yourself a brand-new employee. Unfortunately, sometimes the fairy tale stops here when people who give great interviews turn out to be bad hires.

Most of us have experienced being blindsided when an exciting candidate turns out to be a really disappointing employee. It’s always discouraging when the person you interviewed is not the same individual who shows up to work. You find yourself wondering what went wrong. It usually comes down to a few mistakes that you can easily remedy.

This starts with the resume. Even the most impressive resume paints an incomplete picture of the candidate’s potential. Relying too heavily on a resume is no better than judging a book by its cover. To combat this common problem, here are four tips to help you avoid making hires you later regret.

Tip #1 – Develop clear hiring criteria.
Your excitement about a candidate’s resume can interfere with sound decision-making. We can select the wrong people for the wrong reason when our feelings get in the way. To counter this tendency, develop clear hiring criteria complete with a detailed list of skills and personality traits that the right person must exemplify. Also, be sure to list the undesired traits you need to avoid.

It’s important to remember that feelings are not facts. Emotions, left unchecked, easily become false evidence that candidates fit roles when they do not. Don’t let an outstanding resume blind you to the fact that the candidate is not right for the position you’re hiring for. Always refer back to your hiring criteria when you think you’ve found the perfect match. This step checks your accuracy and ensures that you seek proof that the talent matches the job you need to fill.

Tip #2 – Pose written questions to accompany the resume.
Resumes are a mere glimpse into someone’s experience, background, and skills, providing. An incomplete picture of the job candidate. Not to mention candidates want to put their best selves forward in a resume, and often this includes incomplete details, exaggerations, and sometimes outright lies. Asking candidates to submit written answers to several questions helps provide you with a clearer picture of who they are

What should you ask your job candidates? The best strategy is to pick key details from your hiring criteria and pose specific questions to gather those details. For example, for a sales position you could ask, “How do you sell? Be specific, but limit your response to two or three paragraphs.” Only those candidates who followed your directions and whose answers match your criteria should move on to the next phase of your selection process.

Tip #3 – Seek more proof of fit through experiential interviews.
Conventional interviews don’t really work because candidates are always on their best behavior. They say what you want to hear, only share the best parts of their backgrounds, and make promises of how well they will perform on the job. Unfortunately, these promises don’t always translate into quality work. Experiential interviews are the answer to this problem.

Instead of listening to a candidate’s promises, seek truth. Focus your interviews around having candidates perform sample work that demonstrates the skills and experience noted on their resume. This work should focus on key aspects of the job. Have salespeople demonstrate how they sell. Require computer programmers to write sample code. Set up a scenario where a customer service manager has to solve a real business problem. Watch carefully as they do the work. You’ll quickly see whether the candidate is a good fit, or not.

Tip #4 – Ask candidates about their work failures during phone interviews, then listen carefully.
Everyone has failed at some point in their careers. However, potential hires may be hesitant to share about their failures during interviews. This is a red flag you should watch out for.

When a candidate glosses over past failures, beware. This often indicates that they won’t be a transparent employee or leader within the company. But candidates who are honest, humble, and able to share openly about past failures will positively contribute to your company’s success. The failure question is a great way to identify the candidates that are willing to bring transparency to their role within your organization.

An impressive resume doesn’t always mean your candidate will perform as expected. And conventional interviews don’t work the way we wish they did. To hire the best talent each time you interview, you need to take a closer look at your candidates. Learn who they are, assess their performance and integrity, and then rate them with your specific job criteria in mind. These extra steps will help you gain a clear view of every applicant, so you know exactly who is showing up for work on Monday morning…and you won’t be disappointed.

Scott WintripHow to Tell if a Job Candidate’s Ability Matches His Resume: 4 Tips to Help Weed Out Future Bad Hires and Choose the Best Candidates Every Time
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How to Hire Salespeople Who Know How to Sell

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One of the hardest and most stressful hires to make is a salesperson. Why? Because an interview with a prospective sales hire is a pitch. He’s pitching you to win the job.

During a typical interview with a salesperson, he’s on his best behavior. He tells you the right things and shares only the best parts of his background. Rather than painting a complete picture, the interview narrows the lens, providing you with a mere glimpse of this person. This is why we’re often disappointed when the guy we interviewed is not the one who shows up on Monday morning.

s_admin2015How to Hire Salespeople Who Know How to Sell
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Four Recruiting Tips for Small Business Owners in an Overtapped Labor Pool

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As a small business owner, you’re beyond busy—and that isn’t likely to change. One moment, you’re serving as a salesperson, trying to close that new piece of business. The next, you’re playing service rep and solving a buyer’s problem or doing executive tasks like running to the bank to sign loan documents.

Scott WintripFour Recruiting Tips for Small Business Owners in an Overtapped Labor Pool
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Experiential Interviews: Four Steps to Help You Identify Superior Talent

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If you’re still using conventional interviews when hiring, I’ve got bad news—common interviewing methods set you up to pick the wrong people. Why? Because conventional interviews give only the smallest glimpse of the candidate—and an inaccurate one at that.

During conventional interviews job candidates are always on their best behavior. They say what you want to hear and share only the best parts of their backgrounds. This is why the person interviewed isn’t always the same person who shows up for work.

To combat the inaccuracy of conventional interviews, hiring managers, HR professionals, and recruiters across the globe are turning to experiential interviews—the kind where the candidate does real work to demonstrate his skills—to fill positions in their companies. Experiential interviews allow you to base you hiring choices on facts instead of guesses.

During experiential interviews, you get to see candidates doing sample work rather than speaking conceptually about the job. What does this look like? Computer programmers can be given specs to write computer code, accounting candidates can analyze financials, and marketing staffers can design a promotional campaign.

Regardless of industry, embracing experiential interviews can help you spot better talent faster. When you get to witness candidates doing the job firsthand, you can automatically assess their skills and instantly have a complete image of the person you’ve just met. This way, there are no surprises or disappointments.

To incorporate experiential interviews into your hiring routine, follow this four-stage process

Stage 1: Compare the candidate’s written materials to your company’s hiring profile.

Your hiring profile—the specific standards, skills, and qualifications you require job candidates to meet—gives you a point of reference when viewing each candidate’s qualifications. Compare all candidates to your hiring profile by viewing their résumés, job applications, plus, if needed, a few written questions. Any candidate who matches the most important skills, experience, and education level moves on to Stage 2.

Stage 2: Conduct a brief phone interview.

For most roles, a 20-minute (or less) phone conversation allows you to hear how the candidate communicates as you review their background and discuss the job. This stage also provides an opportunity to discover how their values, helpful behaviors, and personality features may or may not fit into your company culture.

Effective phone interviews can cover lots of ground using short and simple questions. For example:

  • Why us?
    Motives are important. Knowing whether your candidate is inspired by your company’s mission or just looking for a job will help you pick the best people.
  • Why now?
    Knowing what’s driving a candidate’s decision to job search is vital in choosing the right people for your company. Is the candidate desperate to make a change and ready to leap at the first offer? Or, is she happy and simply open to a new opportunity that could make life even better?
  • What job suits you best?
    Too often, interviewers ask candidates about their perfect job. Such a question sets up the candidate and the employer for failure, since jobs and companies are rarely perfect. Instead of asking about perfection, ask about personal fit.

If the candidate matches these additional requirements, they move to Stage 3.

Stage 3: Hold an in-person hands-on interview.

Here, you’ll have the candidate do sample work—both alone and with others—while interviewers observe. The interviewers can use this time to assess how well the candidate performs. If the candidate demonstrates an ability to do quality work, they move on to Stage 4.

Stage 4: Complete reference checks.

Reference checks (and background checks, in certain roles) are used to confirm that the candidate fits all of the required criteria for the job. If they pass this last stage, they’re offered a job immediately, or the next time a seat opens.

Leaders are challenged to find the very best talent available. Experiential interviews are key in this process, and help you really get to know the talent and see how they will perform in real work scenarios. Allowing them to show not only who they are but what they can do helps them shine, and helps you make the best decision for your organization easier, faster, and more accurately than ever before.

Scott WintripExperiential Interviews: Four Steps to Help You Identify Superior Talent
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Four Important Answers to Jobseekers’ Most Pressing Questions

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Are you searching for your next role or know someone who is? There are four main questions being asked by people looking for their next opportunity. Without realizing it, they’re asking the wrong questions. Here are those four questions, the better ones to ask, and their answers.

Most Asked Question: Where can I find the best job opportunities?

A Better Question: How can I find the best companies to work for?

Answer: It’s important to remember that almost everyone has access to jobs posted online. While it’s okay to apply for these widely publicized job openings, you’re still competing with a huge crowd, and that lowers your chances for getting the position or even an interview.

Many of the best jobs can’t be found online or in print ads. In order to find truly great jobs, look for great organizations instead.

Find companies and leaders you believe are doing meaningful, and possibly even heroic work. To do this, search the Internet for press releases announcing how these companies are giving back to the community or embarking on other philanthropic quests. Chances are, if they care enough to give back, they’re also striving to take good care of their employees.

Most Asked Question: What’s the most important thing I should do during a job interview?

A Better Question: What’s the biggest dealbreaker during a job interview?

Answer: People always want to know what they should do to stand out during interviews. In this case, it’s what you shouldn’t do that’s most important. Simply put, don’t blab. Nothing turns off an interviewer more than a job candidate who loves the sound of his own voice.

Make it your practice to “say little, and ask a lot.” Asking great questions demonstrates your professionalism and intellect. And when it’s your turn to answer questions, follow the KISS principle—Keep It Short and Simple. This shows your ability to communicate succinctly and effectively.

Most Asked Question: What questions should I ask in an interview?

A Better Question: How can I fully engage during an interview?

Answer: Questions help you turn a potentially one-sided interview into a dialogue. When an interview feels like a conversation, you’ll be able to connect more with the leader, present your authentic self, and get rid of any jitters you may be feeling.

As the interview begins, without interrupting or being intrusive, ask the following question: “As we begin this interview, I’d love to know what objectives you have for our meeting.” This question demonstrates that you understand mutuality—a belief that both of you can and should benefit from your time together.

It’s also a good idea to take the responses of the hiring manager, and turn those into questions. For example, if she says, “Our top employees in this role aren’t afraid to take risks,” you could respond with “How has their willingness to take risks contributed to their success?” This question shows that you’re listening and allows you to have a more meaningful dialogue.

Most Asked Question: How can I impress an interviewer?

A Better Question: How can I best display my skills in an interview?

Answer: Remember, talk is cheap and seeing is believing. When an interviewer asks you a question about your skills, consider showing instead of telling. Experiential interviews—where candidates display their job skills—are rapidly replacing the old conventional interview template.

Here’s how to show your skills in an interview: If, for example, you’re interviewing for a sales role and the interviewer says, “Tell me how you go about selling to a prospective customer,” take this opportunity to show instead of tell. Suggest that you demonstrate a sales conversation, in which the interviewer plays the role of the prospective customer. This strategy provides an accurate reflection of your talent.

Finding a job you love comes down to tracking down the best organizations and then making lasting impressions during your interviews. Once you’ve updated the way you look at the whole process, you’ll be able to pursue the positions you really care about, and present yourself more accurately as the driven and capable employee you really are.

Scott WintripFour Important Answers to Jobseekers’ Most Pressing Questions
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Choosing the Right People to Hire

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Past behavior is supposed to be a good predictor of future job performance. That’s why behavioral interviewing became a popular hiring method. Unfortunately, behavioral interviews are labor intensive. Plus, job seekers have learned how to beat these interviews. Just plug the words “beat the behavioral interview” into a search engine and you’ll come up with thousands of posts, articles, and books on the topic.

How can you accurately determine whether or not a candidate is a good fit? There’s a better way of interviewing. Also, there are more accurate ways to measure behavior. I discussed both of these topics with Bill Johnston, President of Insight Worldwide, based in Salem, Oregon. Insight Worldwide has pioneered improved methods for assessing a candidate’s integrity and fitness for a job.

Scott: Why’d you get into the business of behavioral hiring assessments?

Bill: There is so much employee turnover in today’s companies. It’s costing these companies millions each year. Also, turnover creates stress and frustration for managers. I knew there had to be a better way of hiring. We researched the problem, discovered patterns in behaviors, and developed tools to accurately determine which employees will do well in a job and those that will not.

Scott: Hiring, for many business leaders and hiring managers, is a challenge. In particular, I’ve often heard complaints that the person they ended up hiring was not the same person they interviewed. From your experience, why does this happen?

Bill: Hiring is one of the most difficult tasks a manager has to perform. Even those who have experience in hiring can find that choosing the right candidate can be a challenge, and that it is equally as easy to make a bad hire as a good one. Most job candidates are presenting themselves in the best possible light on their resume and during the interview. Knowing more about the applicants, digging beneath the image they put forth, is an effective way for hiring managers to make informed decisions. That’s what a behavioral hiring assessment does—it digs deep into who the candidate really is as a person. That information, combined with an effective interview, lets hiring managers make the right choice when deciding whether or not to make someone a job offer.

Scott: In my book from McGraw-Hill, High Velocity Hiring: How to Hire Top Talent in an Instant, I share a process for filling jobs more quickly. How can behavioral assessments help hiring managers hire faster?

Bill: Imagine knowing who is likely to perform better and which candidates are at high risk for behaviors that drive workers’ comp claims, professional liability issues, and absenteeism. Would having this information allow you to make informed and faster decisions on whom to hire? Absolutely! This is the type of reporting a thorough hiring assessment provides to hiring managers about job candidates. Managers use this information to make quicker and better hiring decisions.

Scott: Also in my book, I share a new way of interviewing, called the experiential interview. This hands-on form of interviewing lets a hiring manager see someone action. Instead of talking about doing work (the conventional way of interviewing), the hands-on interview allows them to see first-hand whether or not someone can do quality work. How can companies combine behavioral hiring assessments with this improved way of interviewing to enhance the objectivity of employee selection?

Bill: Experiential interviewing is a great example of an innovative way to learn the important details about a job candidate before making a job offer. Behavioral hiring assessments add to these details, uncovering information you would not find with conventional hiring approaches. These assessments help remove subjective decision making (which often leads to bad hires) by providing deep insights into a candidate’s potential for success in the job as well as disruptive behaviors that he would bring to your workforce. Combining experiential interviews with behavioral hiring assessments helps you vet talent quickly, accurately, and efficiently. This type of “bulletproof” process is vital in a tight labor market when you can’t afford to make mistakes.

Scott: What’s one last piece of advice you’d like to offer to anyone involved in hiring?

Bill: People are the heart and soul of your organization, making hiring one of the most important things you do. Give your hiring managers the best tools available to ensure they make accurate hiring decisions. You’ll be empowering them to spot the good hires and then make job offers quickly before a competitor snaps them up.

Bill’s company, Insight Worldwide, was founded in 2000. Since that time, they’ve amassed information from millions of potential employees on everything from their integrity, ethics, and capabilities, to their use of illegal drugs and their work habits. That’s why their approach goes a step beyond many assessments. Insight Worldwide’s clients get a clear picture of which candidate is the best fit for a particular role based upon their job behaviors. Visit insightww.com to learn more.

Scott WintripChoosing the Right People to Hire
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