7 Great Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers

I think you’ll agree with me when I say that behavioral interview questions have become the norm.

The problem is, most job applicants struggle to answer behavioral interview questions properly because they don’t know know the one trick to acing this type of interview!

I’ve given thousands of interviews and know exactly how the answers should be constructed.

In this blog post I’m going to give you 7 perfect examples of behavioral interview questions and answers to each one. You will know exactly how to answer when behavioral interview questions are coming at you one after another.

Don’t Be Afraid!

You might be saying to yourself, “Man I’m kind of nervous for these behavioral interview questions!”

I assure you though, there is no need to be scared. Let me show you why…

These types of questions allow the interviewer to hear you tell a story, and show them if you are calm and cool under pressure.

So, the funny thing is, you’re already well prepped for behavioral interview questions!

That’s because you have real life scenarios that will give the interviewer the type of answers  that they’re looking for.

Trust me…

With a little prep and thought, you will crush these questions!

Avoid the One Biggest Mistake

There’s one mistake that most applicants make, and it’s easy to avoid…

The behavioral interview questions will always be asked in a similar form.

That form will be, “Tell me time when you pleased a customer.

The mistake that most applicants make is that they answer the question with a general statement.

An example of a general statement type answer is, “I always try to go out of my way to help customers and make sure they’re happy”.

That answer doesn’t give the interviewer any information about what you actually did in the scenario.

The interviewer want’s a specific example. A real life situation.

When you give a general answer about your overall philosophy, there is no proof or evidence of what you did to make sure that customers were happy!

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Also see Nick’s 9 Perfect Interview Questions for Job Hoppers

How to be a STAR and Give the Answers to They Want

Replying with the answers to the behavioral interview questions is actually simpler than you think.

So how do you do it? Easy…

Answer in the form of a story!

There is a very popular interview technique called STAR, which stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result.

As you answer, just make sure that you hit all 4 of those topics!

What was the SITUATION you were in?

What was the TASK at hand?

What was the ACTION you took?

What was the RESULT of your actions?

For example, if the question is, “Tell me about a time you had an argument with a coworker, what did you do to resolve it?

Your answer would just be the story, in detail, when you had a dispute with a coworker, and how you resolved it. That’s it!

Be sure to hit your S.T.A.R. and I promise the interviewer will be impressed, maybe even relieved, because you told the whole story start to end.

And a quick but ultra-important piece of advice:

Don’t over think it! Just tell the truth.

I cannot stress that enough!

That’s because answering with a true story, full of details, tells the interviewer exactly what to expect from you if they were to make you a job offer.

Job Interview

The Questions Will Fit the Environment

You don’t need to worry about studying for all sorts of crazy scenarios. That’s because the  behavioral interview questions will pertain to the industry you are applying for.

Let me give you a few examples…

If you are applying at a company that deals with face-to-face customers, expect a question about a difficult customer you have dealt with.

Trying to get a job with a call center? Anticipate a question about a customer using bad language and threatening you.

Are you going to be working on a team? You can expect a question about collaboration and how you make sure everyone has a voice.

Going for a sales position? Then you know there will be a question about persuading a customer or maybe the largest sale you ever made.

You see, it’s not incredibly difficult to know what to expect.

Alright, let’s get to it! Here are…

The 7 Most Common Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers

Ok, here are the 7 most common behavioral interview questions and answers to each one!

Question 1. “Tell me about a time you had a conflict with a coworker and how it was resolved.”

This is a great question because most people won’t tell the truth because they shy away from the work “conflict”.

Answer 1. Give them THE TRUTH about a time that you had a conflict with a teammate. What started it, how did it escalate, what did you do, who was wrong, how did you speak to the person, was there a past of issues between you, what ended up happening? Tell the story!

Question 2. “Give me an example of a time when you did exceptional work.”

This question is great because it allows you to detail a time where you excelled!

Answer 2. Your answer here should be in 3 parts; First, the thing that you killed it on! What was the accomplishment? Second, it should involve some humility. Don’t go tell them you are the best at everything and no one else on earth understands that. No, tell them you took the actions that you did because its in your values or maybe it’s how you were raised. Third and finally, your answer should involve other people. Who did you teach or who else contributed. I’m not saying give ALL the credit away, but make sure you recognize the people that assisted you.

Question 3. “Tell me about a time you worked as a team to overcome the odds.”

I love this freaking question! I ask it myself in interviews that I conduct because I want to know if the applicant can work with others and be successful, or if they are more of the Lone Ranger type. By the way, both are ok!

Answer 3. This is as easy as telling them about your job at McDonald’s, how you all banded together on a Saturday when the drive thru speaker system went down and you all had to work together to ensure customers didn’t suffer.

Question 4. “Did you ever have a time where you had a policy that you didn’t agree with?”

It sounds like a trap!!! But it’s not I promise. Just tell the truth. Every large company has countless policies, and every employee has at least one they don’t agree with!

Answer 4. Just tell them the policy or procedure that was implemented, and why you disagreed with it. But, be sure not to roll your eyes, or become visibly negative. The interviewer wants to see how you handle this, because they know it’s going to happen again. Tell your story about how you implemented it even though you didn’t agree with it, and if you can, inject some details about how you supported others to implement the policy as well.

Question 5. “Tell me about a time that you saw someone doing something wrong and what you did.”

This seems similar to question 4, and it can be, but to really ace this question, go for the moral issue detailed below!

Answer 5. This can be a tough one because it can be answered two ways. Way 1; You describe a time that a coworker was doing a procedure wrong and how you stepped in and supported them. If you go that route, be sure to include what you taught them! Way 2 to answer; Describe a time that you witnessed someone doing something immortal and how you addressed it. It could be stealing time, or taking office supplies, or even a situation where there was someone being bullied! Either answer is fitting, but way 2 is much more impressive!

Question 6. “Give me an example of a time you handled a difficult customer/client.”

Great question, and maybe the most common for any business that has face to face contact with customers/clients.

Answer 7. Tell the story from the beginning, but hold back from scoffing or being extra dramatic when you start the story! A vast majority of applicants start the story like they’re complaining about the customer. NO! Go through and detail what you did to fix the issue the customer had, how you eased the tension, and then what the end result was.

Question 7.  “Tell me about a time when you trained or mentored someone.”

This is where you’re going to talk about anyone that you’ve taken under your wing.

Answer 7. Tell a story about your favorite person that you ever worked with, and how you mentored them in some way! Be detailed and outline the interaction that you had with them to help them grow. Any tough conversations you had to pull them aside for? Any big praise that you gave them? Did they end up maybe winning employee of the month? Brag a little about the person you mentored!

Perfectly ACE the Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers

So now you’re ready to crush the behavioral interview questions and answers!

Lets go through and do a quick recap…

  • Answer in the form of a story
  • Tell the truth!
  • Give good details
  • Involve others in the stories
  • Be a STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result)

Glad we could get you ready to go for your your next behavioral interview!

-NG

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9 Perfect Interview Questions for Job Hoppers

I think you’ll agree with me when tell you that job hoppers can be hard to spot.

The problem that hiring managers have is that job hoppers are “professional interviewers”, meaning they’re great at acing job interviews by telling you what you want to hear.

In this blog post I’m going to give you my exact strategies for spotting job hoppers.

Job Hoppers Are Sneaky

Through years of trial and error conducting interviews I was able to master the art of catching a job hopper.

It was hard work and frustrating at times, but once I started asking the right questions, I was able to weed out the fake answers of job hoppers easily.

And there’s one reason why job hoppers are so hard to spot…

interview questions for job hoppers

It’s because they go to a lot of job interviews!

They’ve gotten good at making it seem like they are ready to come aboard and be an amazing asset for your company.

Truth is, you’re just going to be the job hopper’s “next paycheck”, until something else grabs their attention and they leave you shorthanded again!

Spotting Job Hoppers is Mega Important

If you are the next victim on the job hoppers list, then it’s going to cost you money!

A report from the Center for American Progress, which studied 11 research papers published over the course of 15 years, found that turnover can cost organizations anywhere from 16% to 213% of the lost employee’s salary.

16% represents the cost of turnover for positions earning less than $30,000 annually.

Higher paid jobs tend to have disproportionately higher turnover costs ranging up to 213% of the replaced employee’s salary!

For example, if a highly-trained employee was making $150,000 annually, the cost for the organization to replace that employee could be as high as $320,000!

job interview questions for job hoppers

It’s pretty obvious that you need to catch job hoppers before it’s too late!

I have used my 15+ years of interviewing experience to put together the complete list of questions for job hoppers.

Now you can you can spot them in the interview, instead of after they leave you high and dry!

Know that You are In Control

The strategy we’re going to use to properly ask the interview questions for the job hoppers is a technique that I came up with called “Established Total Control”.

Established Total Control” is a series of questions designed to put you in the driver seat of the interview.

It’s not to say that they can’t talk, because the opposite is actually true!

You will talk 10% to their 90%! But the series of these 9 questions for job hoppers is designed to make sure that they don’t take you on a ride and lead you all over the place.

YOU are in control and you will establish it clearly.

What you may notice is that the questions aren’t all that different or probing, but rather the order that you ask them in is the importance!

Let’s get into its! Here are my…

9 Perfect Interview Questions for Job Hoppers

Question 1. Where are you working now?

This sets the stage that you are going to ask questions about their employers, and puts you in control for the next question.

As they answer, take mental note of anything that needs a follow up question, and anything that is interesting.

Also be on the lookout for them to start bashing their employer. It may not happen this early, but it’s likely coming!

Question 2. How long have you worked there?

Obviously, this answer will be pretty revealing if they are in fact a job hopper.

If they haven’t been at their current job long, then you ask follow up questions as to why they’re looking for another job so soon (the employer bashing chances greatly increase here).

If they are talking poorly about the employer and they haven’t been there long, chances are getting better that they are a job hopper!

Question 3. Where did you work before that?

Once you have talked a little bit about where they are now, and how long they have been there, you’re going to keep digging going further and further back in time.

There’s a chance that they’re going to get uneasy at this point! Stay calm, be yourself, and just keep asking follow up questions!

Question 4. And what were the dates that you said you worked here? And what are the dates that you started your current job again?

OK, here is where the Established Total Control technique really comes into play.

Clearly, you just talked about their past 2 jobs, but then you go back in and ask for the dates of employment again.

This communicates that you are not going to just breeze over these jobs, and that you want details in your answers.

It also puts you in FULL control!

Pay close attention to see if anything the dates change!

What we’re doing here is looking for a pattern. Short time of employment and very likely large gaps between jobs!

Question 5. Ok, I see, and what was the reason you left your previous job?

You ask this question really quick after they tell you the dates of their last 2 jobs.

You want to be sure they have no time to make any stories up.

If they’re a job hopper, you’ll start to really get them on their heels here as they start to sweat, adjust in their chair, touch their face, etc.

You’re looking for more patterns! They may start to blame management, or the most likely answer is that the jobs didn’t match what the employer described in the interview.

Be thoughtful, and ask any follow up questions where you need clarity…

Then we just keep going!

Question 6. Ok and where were you before Job B?

Now we go even further back in time. We’ve talked about where they work now, we talked about where they worked before that (job B) and now we’re going 3 jobs into the past.

They may try to get the interview back under their control by being extremely passionate about this job.

Don’t take it for face value, but also don’t completely write it off.

Save your follow up questions at this point and go straight to question 7.

Question 7. How long were you there?

More searching for patterns. If they job hop, then they weren’t there long!

Again save your follow up questions…

Question 8. What was the reason you left?

No surprise with this question.

By this time, if they are a job hopper, they’re getting very uneasy. They will sense that you see what is going on, and you will be FULLY in control at this point.

Objective 1 accomplished, you have Established Total Control of the interview!

And now we go in for the killshot!

Question 9. It looks like you have moved jobs quite often…any reason that would be?

Call a spade a spade, but then let them explain!

There is always the off-chance that they moved often for one reason or another.

Or, like a college student that can’t decide what their major is going to be, they can see themselves as successful in one field and then they change their mind.

Click here for PDF version of the 9 Perfect Interview Questions for Job Hoppers

Devils Advocate: It’s not BAD to be a Job Hopper

In the past, I have hired people that were job hoppers, and had them become extremely productive and loyal employees!

The fact of all interviews is this:

The goal is NOT to get a “good” interview.
To goal is to get an ACCURATE interview.

When you know what you have, you can make an informed decision.

If the applicant appears to be a job hopper, but is a great fit for the position, by unearthing the fact that they change jobs a lot, you can then address it simply…

Just tell them you’re concerned that they change jobs a lot and you are looking for a long term employee to invest in.

The realness of that statement will set you up for a more honest conversation. If they open up, and you two can talk, then good!

If they keep feeding you stories and excuses, you know what you need to do…

You know you need to move on to the next candidate!

 

9 Interview Questions to Ask Potential Employees

9 Revealing Interview Questions to Ask Potential Employees

When you become a leader you have to make a ton of GIANT decisions, whether as an employee who recently got promoted, or an entrepreneur with a business that’s now large enough for you to hire an employee or two. Hiring decisions are probably the most important ones!

Note that being the interviewer is a huge change from being the interviewee.

Pro Tip: Don’t ask unto others the same interview questions that were asked unto you! (That’s why you’re here!)

Or, maybe you’re a seasoned interview pro and you’re here looking for some new interview questions to ask potential employees during your interviews.

I think you’ll agree with me when I say that hiring is one of the most important parts of running a successful business, and knowing what questions to ask is the framework that leads to great hiring decisions.

I’ve got a few of great tactics here, my coaching on the ritual of hiring, and of course my 9 in depth questions to ask potential employees.

It’s Tactics vs Ritual (and Ritual ALWAYS Wins)

So what’s the difference between the two? And what are they?

Tactic – An action that you can take that will help you in an area. It’s actionable.

Ritual – A firm belief in the overall topic. Philosophical. The part of “the thing” that has passion attached to it.

So why does Ritual ALWAYS win?

Because, if you don’t have a method, an opinion, and a default attack plan then you have no where to stick these great tactics that you read about. Ritual is like “your style” of doing something.

Let me say it a bit differently…

If I list out 10 great interviewing tactics (Which I do in this post: 10 Steps to Better Hiring and Interviewing | Win the War for Talent), but you’ve never done an interview and have no idea how the flow of an interview generally goes, you can’t use any of those tactics because you have no framework to add the tactic to.

How do you build your ritual?

Good freaking question!!! Read this whole post, and then go do interviews. Lots of them. As you do, you will build your belief system on how to pull the answers out of people as you ask the questions.

So before I get to my 9 awesome questions to ask potential employees, I’ve got…

A Few Ritual Primers For You

This is so you can start to build up your style of interviewing and form that ever important ritual.

  1. Be yourself. The applicant needs to want the job, and when you are yourself it will translate into an ease and confidence in how you come off to others.
  2. Know the Core Values of the company and make sure that the applicant aligns to that. This could be a 2000 word article in-and-of itself, so I’ll just leave it open and link to an old piece that I wrote on Core Values . I also reference it in the 10 Steps to Better Hiring and Interviewing. It’s steps #3 and #2.
  3. Don’t be nervous! You are in control, so you shouldn’t be nervous. You might be when you start, but know that they are the ones under the light, and you are running the show.
  4. Interview them using your personality. Don’t try to be some hardass when you’re a sweetheart. I know this is practically the same as #1, BUT, it’s that important.

All right…Let’s get to the thing that you came here for!

 

Interview Questions to Ask Potential Employees

Obviously you need to shake their hand, and go through introductions. Then you get to…

QUESTION 1:
The best way to start an interview is with a question that let’s them talk about whatever they want to talk about. One of my Core Values is to always have fun, so I phrase my first question like this:

Give me your 2-minute commercial about yourself.

That will get them talking, and more importantly get you listening. You’re not allowed to interact with commercials after all!

 

QUESTION 2:
You want to know what motivates the applicant. What they’re passionate about, what drives them and whether to not you want that motivation, or lack-there-or- as part of your team.

What’s the proudest moment of your career?

The “career” part is important so it keeps them focused on talking about things that they did at work.

 

QUESTION 3:
You also want to know what the person values in life. So the next question is….

What’s the proudest moment in life?

You’re going to get a very wide array of answers here, but it will give you an idea of who they really are, and will start to let you in on some details that are extremely important, but often not talked about in interviews (children, hobbies etc).

 

QUESTION 4:
Here is my favorite question! This is where you find out how self aware the person is, how open they are, and if they will admit to mistakes and learn from them.

Tell me about a time where you were disappointed in your effort. How did you grow from it?

This is when you need to really use your listening skills, and the power of silence. A vast majority of applicants will struggle with this question at first, but as you stay quiet and force them them to tell the story, you’ll really get to see what level of commitment the have to learning.

 

QUESTION 5:
I like to know about the applicants “hero”. The person that taught them everything they know, and helped shape their life.

Who is a person that has mentored you? What did you take from them, and how do you live that lesson forward?

The reason I like this is because when you know that someone invested in them, they will usually want to pay that forward. By asking about this in the interview you also send the message to them that it’s going to be important to you.

 

QUESTION 6:
When you’re building a team, you can add size by adding followers, or you can multiply effectiveness by adding leaders. I prefer the latter!

Who is a person that you’ve mentored to be a success. Why did you pick them and how did you help them grow?

Leadership is ultra important, and it’s not that you need to hire all leaders, but like the last question, you need to send the message that you expect leadership.

 

QUESTION 7:
This another leadership based question, but more geared towards interacting with the team.

Tell me a story when you rallied the team through a tough time or a lull in productivity.

You’ll know if they can spot tough times or drops in productivity. You’ll know if they give a rip when things grind to a halt, and if they can put on the captains arm band and lead from on the field.

 

QUESTION 8:
Another leadership type question here, more geared to seeing how they interact with others.

Tell me about a conflict that you resolved between co-workers, possibly you and another person, and how did you do it?

In times of conflict emotion runs high and people’s true colors come through a bit. Very often when reliving it the same will happen and they will come out of “interview mode” and you’ll get a good glimpse at their true personality.

 

QUESTION 9:
Having a teammate that will push hard to win is so valuable. You don’t need every teammate to have that love of the grind, but you need plenty of them!

What’s the longest hours you had to put in or a time where you were on a very tight deadline?

What to listen for here is…How important is it for them to win?

 

BONUS!!!

Here’s the question that I wrap my interviews with:
Did they do any research? Did they listen to the whole interview? Is the only thing on their mind the pay rate? Here’s how you answer those questions

OK, your turn to interview me! What do you want to know?

The trick to this question is that you need to ask it in a way that makes them comfortable to ask their questions. You can actually tell them that you’re going to ask this at the beginning of the interview to get them ready for it.

Hiring someone is a huge step and shouldn’t be taken lightly. I hope you’re able to use some of these questions to identify the teammate that you hire on.

-NG

7 Secrets to Get Yourself a Job Interview TOMORROW

10 Steps to better Interviewing and Hiring | Win the War for Talent

If you’d like to get a Monday Morning message from me with 3 strategies to prime you for a killer week, then sign up for my free Monday Morning 3 Point Primer.

There’s nothing more important than talent selection.

If you feel stuck, and unable to enact your vision, improving your hiring is the fastest way to change the direction of the business. Hiring isn’t hard, but to many it doesn’t come naturally. It’s a skill, and just like anything else, it’s a skill that can be honed with some knowledge and a few simple techniques. I’ve got 10 steps to support you in making better hiring decisions so you can win the war for top talent.

Step #10 Don’t Take Notes
Go to the interview with no pen, no paper, no phone, and no iPad. Just you and the candidate. It  will make you much more in tune with them and their answers, and will cut down on things for them to hide behind creating a more involved conversation. The goal is to assess the candidates skills and values so that you can make a decision on whether of not your want to have them represent your company.

To get their full story, you have to be engaged in active listening and you can’t do that with your attention on a legal pad!

Now, I didn’t say not to write ANYTHING down, I just said don’t do it while you’re in the conversation. After you wrap the interview, and stand to shake their hand to thank them for their time, now is the time to get your notes going. They’re gone, and you can think clearly. Jot down your thoughts and reactions on what they said. If you have a corporate interviewing packet, now is when you fill it out. By separating the listening portion of the interview with the writing and reflecting portion of the interview, you add value to both processes.

It’s not that you can’t do two things at once, it’s just that you shouldn’t when you’re going to be making such a huge decision!

Step #9 Ask for Stories
Avoid hypothetical answers, to the point where you refuse to accept them. When the interview starts, tell the applicant that you want answers in the form of a story, and that theses stories need to be about specific events that took place.

A hypothetical answer sounds something like this; “You know how customers can be sometimes, so it’s important to stay calm, and be direct in solving their problem so they leave happy.”
That’s not actually an answer, it’s a theory. It’s a decent theory, but it says nothing about the person’s skill set and it has one mission on the mind; IMPRESS YOU TO GET HIRED.

Hypothetical answers lead you right into the trap of getting fooled into hiring someone that is not fit for the job. This is because when they talk in theories, they sound much better than they really are.

Specific answers, now those cut through the BS! To do that we’re going to do 2 simple things. First, towards the beginning of the interview, after you finish the small talk questions, tell them you’re going to get into your real interview questions and that you want them to answer by telling a story. Second, when you ask your first question, tell them the same thing again, like this; “Tell me a story about a time you had to BLANK”.

What if I still get hypotheticals? That’s fine. Nearly everyone is used to answering interview questions like that, and you’re also used to getting them! When they start a hypothetical answer, let the person talk for a minute because there’s a decent chance that they will start out with a theory, and then go into a story. This interview style is new to them, so be patient. If the specific story doesn’t come, then we’re going to intervene with a reminder to give us the story. Something like this; “Ok that sounds interesting, so tell me about a time where you did that.”

Now you’ll be getting answers that will tell you what they did, and that will be a better representation of their skill set. From there, we can make a better judgement on wether or not they are the talent that you’re looking for.

Step #8 Be a Movie Director
Ok so what do we de with these stories? We’re going to listen to what they say, and “create a movie” in our head. Use their details to set the backdrop, and set the mood. If they don’t tell you where exactly this story is taking place, ask, and be specific. Not just the job they worked at, but was it in their office? On a sales floor?  Imagine the conversations they talk about as dialogue, and immerse yourself in the characters. As the story unfolds in their words, it unfolds as pictures in your head. This is how we are going to truly know if they are going to work for us!

You’ll start to catch hypothetical answers really quick because there’s a true lack of details, and you won’t be able to create your movie.

Now for the most important reason for making a movie out of their answers. The business world is relational, and relationships are built on conversations, so if the applicant can’t craft a compelling story, then can they achieve the success that you need to have on our team?

It doesn’t matter if you’re in sales, customer service, or a hands-on trade like electrical work, if they can’t connect with people, they’re going to experience performance issues.

It takes some patience to build your movie as they narrate the story. Don’t rush it. Stay quiet, keep listening, (more on that with #6), and use some imagination and creativity. If you have any areas that need clarification, mentally lump them into two categories;

  1. CUT, CUT, CUT – The story is missing detail to a point where your movie doesn’t make sense. As the director, you intervene and bring everything to a halt. Ask the applicant to go back and fill in the missing info.
  2. Fix it in editing – The story was only lacking a small amount of clarity and you make a mental note of it, and ask the applicant to revisit it at the end.

It’s worth noting, that when asked to answer questions in the form of a story, and having you creating the movie in your head, it is very difficult for the applicant to be untruthful. The answers have to be very complex to be made into a movie, and that level of detail is almost impossible to create on the fly.

Step #7 Ask a ton of Follow Up Questions
This is the part of the interview where we get to be in control. We’re going to be looking for gaps in the story, and making them fill them in for us using the 2 styles mentioned above.

How you ask the follow up questions is much less important than actually asking them. Do it in your style. If you’re assertive, be assertive and interrupt as you ask the question sounding skeptical. If you’re gently, politely interrupt and ask for  the clarification.

When you ask a follow up, be specific in what you’re asking, but you HAVE to walk the fine line of not answering it for them.
Good Example: “OK so you’ve got this majorly stressful situation and your GM is no where to be found. So what ended up happening??
Bad Example: “OK so you’ve got this majorly stressful situation and your GM is no where to be found. So you were able to calm it all down and get the customer happy?”
See the difference? In the bad example, you set the applicant up for success. It’s going to be a good answer because you made it a good answer. In the good example, there’s no details for them to play off of. They have to continue telling their story!

The follow up questions typically take the most time to master out of all the interviewing skills, and that’s because it doesn’t feel like you’re in control of the interview, and typically if your interviewing someone, you’re used to be in control constantly!

Since you typically will do a few interviews a week, you can practice the follow up questions normal conversation, and when you do, an amazing thing will happen; people will tell you things that you can’t believe they just told you! You give them the stage to talk, and they will just keep on talking.

#6 The 4 Secrets to Amazing Interviewing
OK we’re about halfway through here, so now it’s time to give you the one piece of advice that, above all the other ones, is by far and away the most valuable! When I was taught this by one of my mentors in 2011, it forever changed my hiring ability. I actually still have the exact paper he wrote it on, and not only that, it’s actually with me in my work bag at all times. I think this piece of wisdom is THAT valuable. Now, without further adue, here are the 4 Secrets to Amazing Interviewing;

  1. Ask Question
  2. Listen 
  3. Ask Question
  4. Listen

Here is the picture of this original lesson that I got on June 30th, 2011.

That’s it. Beautifully simple. Ask a question, listen to their answer, then ask a follow up question about it, and listen to their answer, then ask another follow up question or a different question, and listen, and repeat…

#5 Allow for awkward Silence
Be Patient, and don’t rush to finish the interview. That’s when you will start to make hiring mistakes.
Now when it comes to a silence during the interview, we need to learn to love it, not fear it. Embrace it, don’t try to fill it up.

This is their interview, and that means it’s their silence. 

When it get’s quiet, stay quiet. Use the time to think, reflect, and wait for them to talk again. They will, and a majority of the time, this is when they tell you the deeper things that they don’t tell other interviewers. Many character flaws are revealed after a silence.

Alright that’s the nuts and bolts stuff. The rest of the list is much larger, broader concepts. More complex, and less actionable, but also more important!

#4 Diversity, the Yin to your Yang
This is not diversity in the sense of social diversity, it’s diversity in the sense of you need to be looking for people that have skills that compliment areas that you have a weakness. Now if you work in sales, everyone you hire needs to have sales skills, but they don’t all need to share your passion for spreadsheets and data, or have O.C.D. about paperwork like you.
If your a people-person, you need to diversify and hire a details-person. If you’re highly analytical, you need to hire someone that’s intuitive. If you’re a Gen-Xer then you need a co-leader that’s a Millennial.

#3 Job Values
What are the skills the applicant MUST have to get hired? You need a list, and it needs to be gospel. If can be as small as 3 things, it can be as many as 10, but it needs to be specific , and they have to be non-negotiable.

Don’t make “honesty” one of them. That’s obvious!

Give this list some thought, and use pencil, not pen. The list needs to evolve as you evolve. It needs to be able to shift as the world changes. If you’re in an industry where discipline is important, then “Follows the process” may be a job value. If you’re in tech, that job value will eventually lead to the death of your company because the tech industry changes extremely fast and your team needs to be able to adapt and creatively solve problems.

Job Values 2.0
What are some skills that you prefer they possess, but aren’t necessary? To ask that differently, what are some skills that you want, but are teachable? To work in tech, they have to be able to write code to work for you, but they don’t necessarily need to be a master public speaker. Maybe that is part of the job, but that’s a skill set that you can teach on the job.

#2 Alignment to The Purpose
This ALMOST made it to #1…it’s that important.
What is “The Purpose” of your company or division, and what are the “Core Values” that your team lives by?
“The Purpose” aligns the group, and the individuals align to it. It’s a statement that expresses the highest aspirations of the team, and it can never be check off as complete. It’s the direction, and the identity. It’s what you shoot for, constantly. If your a non-profit, it might be “To always be in a giving mindset”. All, and I mean ALL of your hires HAVE to align to The Purpose by nature.

If you can’t confidently state your Purpose, then you need to make that priority #1.
Click here for guidance on finding your company’s or divisions Purpose.

So how do you find out if they align to The Purpose? Subtly, that’s how. If you tell them what it is, then they will say, “Yep that’s the most important thing there is!” You’re going to do 2 things.

  1. Ask them “what are you proud of?” and then listen. After the response is complete, ask 3-5 follow up questions, and you will be able to track back through the persons values and figure out what makes them so proud, and you’ll be able to answer the question, “Do they want to [insert The Purpose here]?
  2. Tell a Purpose-laden story of your own, and once your done, ask for their thoughts on what you said. If they pick out a version of The Purpose, then you know they align to it.

#1 An Interview is an Audit of Skills
It’s not about getting a good interview, it’s about getting an accurate interview.
This is #1, because it is. As in there is no argument that I can dethrone it, because it is what interviewing is.

A good interview is their responsibility. An accurate interview is your responsibility.

All hiring mistakes, yes all, are because something  was missed, and it caused an inaccurate audit of the person’s skills. Have you ever heard someone use the cliche’ “They were a totally different person in the interview!”

It’s impossible for them to be a different person in the interview vs the person that shows up to work.

If you interview the applicant for 2 hours, and at the end can’t answer YES to whether or not they align to The Purpose, and have the job values required for success…THAT’S GREAT. All it means is they need another interview.

NEVER HIRE HASTILY. NEVER HIRE DESPERATELY. NEVER HIRE CARELESSLY.
There is nothing more important than the people that work for you.

-NJ

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