Interviewing - again

Interviewing is not an easy topic but that is no excuse not to put some effort in. Interviewing and selection is crucial to the recruitment process. There has been an increase of chatter on Interviewing recently - see enc.
First some good news - Google has publicly abandoned its policy on bizarre brainteaser questions.

For those of you not aware Google has become well known in recruitment terms for employing somewhat bizarre and oddball type questions as part of its interviewing toolkit. They were by no means the only ones but they were the most high profile and picked up a fair bit of flak for it too.

We think Google does at least deserve some plaudits for admitting that such questions don’t actually add any value. Given the coverage it had on this topic it was brave to front up rather than just quietly drop it. I featured the topic of bizarre interview questions in this blog, two years ago in 2011 - tag: Interviewing. In it we drew attention for this phenomenon though without naming any names and we published for fun some of the more outlandish interview questions we had come across. However our point back then was that interview questions don’t necessarily have to be bizarre to be next to useless as a selection tool.

However the news round Google has opened up a few more of the oddball interview questions doing the rounds. We know you like reading them so here are some more that reputably have been used in the UK recently (again no names):

  • How deep do you need to bury a body so that a dog cannot find it?
  • If we do NOT offer you this position, how will you get your revenge?
  • Would you be interested in becoming my partner in Second Life?
  • What songs best describe you?
  • If you could pick two celebrities to be your parents who would they be?
  • Did you lie as a child?

Lets now move on and look at the serious matter of interviewing and what questions should managers use. Well in our experience managers sometimes fix on a list of interview questions more as a crutch without really understanding the value the questions bring. The basic point here is that whatever the interview questions, if they are not carefully used and understood by the interviewer they are likely to be largely useless as a good selection tool. So what should you do?

We think in many cases the problem is not doing the work upfront. If you plan to work according to the following checklist we think you will find that the right questions will surface. More importantly they will be questions that really mean something to the recruiting managers and if applied as part of this structure will likely result in many cases in better outcomes. If you do have similar structure to this and do

1. Do the ‘Needs Analysis’ before anything else - in basic terms think: Why do you need a hire, what are you really looking for in a candidate and why would they work for you? Think through your options, where to advertise and what will actually be in the job advert (and any accompanying info).
2. Plan the interview; prepare questions you want answers to; understand what the possible answers might tell you about a candidates future performance.
3. Take notes round what the candidates response was (it is amazing how many managers don’t really do this).
4. Carefully analyse responses post interview and have preprepared a model for how you will rank candidates based on interview along with a model for ranking them for overall selection.
5. Be objective make your assessment right up front on exactly what skills, attributes, experience you need from the candidate (see 1. Needs Analysis).
6. Do more than one interview - hiring the wrong person costs signifiant time and money. Unless your focus is on other selection methods - do at least two rounds of interviews and ideally three. Make sure more than one manager is involved and take your time - shortcuts often end up costing.
7. Be realistic and don’t rush- if you are not getting a good selection of candidates you are either: looking in the wrong places, not articulating your offer properly or have unrealistic expectations. As per 6. above, take your time. If you really don’t feel confident hiring from the final selection don’t unless there is a compelling need. You will be probably better looking at the whole process again rather than just picking one...