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5 Mind Games to Play When Interviewing Job Applicants

5 Mind Games to Play When Interviewing Job ApplicantsInterviewing candidates is a crucial step in the recruiting process. We all know that there are plenty of unethical applicants lying on their resumes and the job interview is your next step for weeding out these people. On top of skills validation, it’s also your number one opportunity to learn more about who they are as a person, their work ethic, and if they’ll be a good fit into your corporate culture.

Sometimes, the cliché questions like “Tell me your top 3 strengths and weaknesses” or “Explain why you’re the best person for this job” just don’t cut it. Instead, you’ll want to throw a few curveball questions or use some tricky techniques that will get the candidate telling you about their true self.

  1. Create an Awkward Silence and See What Happens
    This is a common strategy taken by many job interviewers. This article from Time explains that just 4 seconds of silence can “elicit primal fears, activating anxiety-provoking feelings of incompatibility and exclusion.” As a result, people will do whatever they can to break the silence and start talking. When seeking more information from a candidate, just say nothing. Eventually, to eliminate the discomfort, the candidate will begin expanding on their response and divulge additional information.
  2. Confirm Their Former Supervisor’s Information and Secure an Honest Interview
    A 2012 Business Insider article provided 8 interesting mind games for a recruiter to play, based on the work of leadership and training provider, Mark Murphy. It included some common techniques, including the awkward silence listed above, as well as this unique question: “Please spell your former boss’s last name.” This will make the applicant believe (whether it’s true or not) that you have every intention to contact their former manager for validation. As a result, your chances of getting honest answers increase significantly.
  3. Let Them Feel They Can Be Honest
    Where the previous technique scared your applicant into being honest, this one does the opposite — comforts them into being honest. Create a “safe place” that gives them a false sense of security. As the interview gets casual, your candidate will feel as though they’re speaking off-the-record and divulge details about themselves that they would regularly hold back from a formal interviewer.
  4. Ask About a Problem, But Not How They Solved It
    Another common question to ask in interviews is “Tell us about a problem you had at work and how you solved it.” This can tell a lot about an applicant, but if you don’t prompt them for a solution, you can learn even more. A person who instinctively tells you their way out of a predicament is more likely to be a problem-solver, as opposed to the negative person who’s quick to tell you about their unsolved difficulties. (Bonus: The strategy of asking only partial questions can be applied to other typical queries as well).
  5. Brainteasers
    Finally, there are the ever-popular brainteasers, such as “How many lights are there in New York City?” Advocates for these techniques will tell you that they demonstrate a person’s critical thinking abilities. Critics (which are increasing) will tell you they add little value and just make your applicant angry.

Mind games and subtle tricks in job interviews can show some great results in learning about your true applicant and getting honest answers.  However, there may also be some ethical considerations and, as noted above, it could just make your applicant frustrated and choose to move on.

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How to Deal with an Arrogant Candidate During a Job Interview

How to Deal with an Arrogant Candidate During a Job Interview Job interviews can be a painful process in several ways. Sometimes you deal with smelly applicants, other times candidates are clueless and clearly falsified their resume, and, unfortunately, in even more situations, we end up having to put up with an arrogant, pompous narcissist.

There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Confident applicants are people who you want working with you. They believe in themselves and their abilities, and can back-up their claims with real life experience, references, and measurable proof. Arrogant people may possess those qualities, though it may be a false confidence if they can’t prove experience, and they come with other traits that will damage your corporate culture. To spot the poison before it sneaks onto your team, keep an eye out for certain behaviours during the interview. Some examples include:

  • Negativity towards past co-workers and managers
  • Inflating importance on past projects
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Interrupting
  • Using condescending tones and language
  • Blaming others for past failures
  • Making you sell them on the open position, as though you may not be good enough for them

How do we deal with these pesky headaches? Here are 6 strategies you should consider — you’ll notice they all involve taking the high road (no matter how much you’d like to bring them down a notch).

  1. The first step is to determine if you’re talking to the “real” candidate. Physically you have the right person (hopefully) but are they nervous and not acting like their true selves? This can be confirmed through reference checks, but it also requires good judgement.
  2. Look at their skills and decide if what they bring to the table will out-weight the fact that they come with a not-so-good personality. Will your team be able to handle this person?
  3. Ask some questions about their current work environment to understand their present situation. A work environment filled with more arrogant people, coupled with a low self-esteem, can cause a nice person to act arrogant. Will your culture bring them back down to Earth?
  4. Remember that their accomplishments should speak for themselves. If your candidate seems to be overselling and trying to convince you they’re awesome, they’re probably not awesome.
  5. Get yourself through the interview and be polite. Job applicants are still considered customers, and they will talk about a negative experience. Being rude can cause you to lose future star applicants or customers.
  6. If all else fails and you’re ready to throw-up, just cut the interview short. This comes with pre-planning. Refrain from setting expectations by telling them how long an interview will be or exactly what will happen.

Every recruiter, HR professional and hiring manager has been through a dreadful interview with an arrogant person. Believe it or not, a 2012 study from University of Nebraska-Lincoln said job seekers are more successful when they’re narcissists, meaning these people are not going anywhere and have potential to make it into your company. While you can’t control arrogant people, you absolutely can control yourself. Have a look at the signs of arrogance above, and ask yourself: Do job applicants think you’re arrogant?

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Does Your Recruiting Process Match Your “Fun” Corporate Culture?

Does Your Recruiting Process Match Your "Fun" Corporate Culture?How fun is your recruiting process? Not for you, but the applicant. If your organization boasts a fun work environment and encourages new hires to have a sense of humour, then shouldn’t you demonstrate that as a company while recruiting them?

Before going any further, let’s clarify that not every organization wants to have that fun, Silicone Valley-style corporate culture with ping pong tables. We all have different definitions of “fun” and to different degrees, and some organizations prefer to define their corporate cultures in other ways. Today, we’re going to provide some tips on where you can inject fun and humour, on any level, into your recruiting process.

Careers Page

The Careers Page on your website is the first place a job seeker goes to learn about your company before applying. It needs to reflect your culture. A common technique many HR departments already use on this page is interviews, either written or video, with current employees. You can continue to do this, and add lighter elements into the interview. For example, ask them to tell their favourite joke, their weirdest experience while with the company, or any other out-of-the-ordinary question. The way people dress and what’s happening in the background of a picture or video will also give an idea as to the company’s culture.

Job Descriptions

If you search through job descriptions on Indeed, you’ll notice that very few of them have that “fun” element to them. Most, at best, have a standard company boilerplate, followed by a description of the role and the requirements work in that role. That doesn’t scream “fun corporate culture.” Try including a few off-the-wall responsibilities or make light of the position’s stereotypes (make sci-fi references in a developer post, or comment on the accounting department’s obsession with being organized). You may also add some graphics, comics or memes.

Job Interview

Do not hire a stand-up comic to run a job interview, unless you plan to film it and make the next viral video on YouTube.  Your top priority in the interview is to evaluate the candidate and their skills, so it needs to stay relatively serious, but you do have some opportunities to stand out. Interviewers have a habit of going on a power trip, trying to intimidate candidates and make them sweat — why? Keep the conversation light and add a subtle joke here and there. You may choose to evaluate how they react or respond to your jokes, but most candidates will remain conservative as opposed to exposing their natural wit. A couple quirky questions will also soften the mood and give you a chance to learn about the candidate’s creativity.

A Few Words of Caution

Comedy is a tricky thing. If you’re not funny, you come off as cheesy or offensive. Understand where to draw the line and run ideas by other team members, before causing damage to your company’s reputation. Also, it goes without saying, but take note as to where the fun should be minimal. For example, the first phone interview, salary negotiations, and the first-day policy review all need to remain serious and professional.

How can you spruce up your recruiting process so it better matches your corporate culture? Do you have an ideas you’d like to share with our readers? Please share them in the comments below.

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Everything You Need to Know About Running a Job Interview (Infographic)

Talking to people, asking questions and judging whether or not they’ll be a good fit for your work environment you may seem like a simple task, but even the most experienced hiring managers and recruiters know that it’s anything but easy. An effective job interview requires purpose, preparation, skills and some experience. Without one, you may end up hiring the wrong employee and suffering some major consequences.

This infographic from FurstPerson will help any interviewer, from a new manager to an experienced HR professional, improve and excel at performing job interviews. If you’re frequently responsible for hiring, you may consider printing this one and keeping it beside your desk.

Everything You Need to Know About Running a Job Interview (Infographic)

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How to Catch a Lying Candidate by Listening (Video)

There are some exceptional liars out there. They can sneak their way into a job interview with fake resumes and, when a hiring manager isn’t careful, can land themselves impressive positions by providing fake references.  These deceitful job applicants are not easy to spot, regardless of how many techniques you use. Sometimes they raise a common red flag, but other times, they do very well at covering their tracks.

Perhaps the best way to flush out a fraud is to talk to them face-to-face. From there, you could ask them many questions and try to catch them in a lie, but as this video from TED-Ed shows, you may just need to watch and listen carefully to how they phrase their responses.

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16 Unique Job Interview Questions That Guarantee You’ll Hire for Cultural Fit

16 Unique Job Interview Questions That Guarantee You'll Hire for Cultural FitEngaged, productive employees are an important part to any organization’s success. Every manager dreams of recruiting the perfect team, but it never fails — there will always be some people who are sinking your boat. One way to ensure engaged employees is by making sure you only hire those who fit well into your company culture and will optimize your team’s performance. Unfortunately, hiring the perfect cultural fit is easier said than done.

Hiring for cultural fit happens throughout the entire recruiting process. You need the right job description, strategic resume screening, and of course, some unique interview questions. Here are some interview questions you may want to add into your processes that help you learn if an applicant will get along with their potential team, manager, and will fit into the overall culture.

Will they fit with the rest of the team (assuming it is a team-based role)?

  1. What is your definition of “team work”?
  2. Are you more effective working alone or part of a team? In a perfect role, what proportion of each would you have?
  3. What role do you most often play when working in a team?
  4. What type of team member frustrates you the most?
  5. Tell me about the best team you have been a part of. Why was it so great?

Will they fit with the manager?

  1. Describe your ideal boss?
  2. What management style brings out your best work?
  3. What should senior leaders in an organization do to make the employees successful at their job?
  4. How would you describe your relationship with past managers?

Will they fit into the social environment of your office (or do they expect one that doesn’t exist)?

  1. Are you comfortable having friends at work? Or do you prefer to keep friendships for outside the workplace?
  2. How do you feel about becoming best friends with your co-workers?

Will they fit into the overall culture? Better yet, do you fit the candidate’s ideal corporate culture?

  1. What are your values?
  2. What motivates you to come into work every day?
  3. What is the single most important thing your workplace must have in order for you to love the environment?
  4. What is your favourite part about the culture at your most recent place of work?
  5. What did you hate the most at your most recent place of work?

Whether or not a candidate’s answer to these interview questions is the “right” answer will depend heavily on what you’re looking for in a person and your own company values. Is team work and being super social important, or does your office prefer to keep to themselves? What kind of management style does your organization tend to follow? These are questions that you’ll want to answer yourself and determine what “cultural fit” means to you. Once that answer is obvious, learning which candidates fit into your culture becomes a lot easier.

How do you determine cultural fit? Do you have any favourite questions to ask that aren’t listed above? Share them in the comments below!

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10 Out of the Box Questions to Really Get to Know Your Candidates

Out of the Box Questions

Tired of the same old “What are your strengths?” and “Tell me about yourself!” dialogues in your job interviews? So is everyone else! Today’s top hiring managers have figured out what questions to ask to assess behavioural and analytical skills.

We made a top 10 list of our favourite questions that real companies are asking today. These questions may seem strange at first glance, but each one is designed with a specific measure in mind.

  1. If you didn’t have to work, why would you come into the office? – NatureBox

This question is designed to get to know exactly what gets someone out of bed and going in the morning, aside from that report due at noon. This will show you how to motivate this employee and keep them coming into work with a smile. Hiring managers want to know that they’re getting someone who not only has the right skills, but the right attitude to grow with the company and mesh with the culture of the office.

  1. “If you were given $1 million dollars every year for the rest of your life, what would you do?” After an answer, I ask “Ok so you’ve done that, what would you do next?” and continue asking that until they can’t think of anything else. – SoapBox Soaps

This is another question geared towards finding out the candidate’s motivations and priorities.  SoapBox’s CEO, David Simnick likes this question because “Usually the last answer or two shows what the person really wants out of life and tells me what they care about the most. It helps me understand what motivates them.”

  1. Who were the competitors at the last company you worked for and how did your company differentiate itself? – ZipRecruiter

This question tests whether the candidate had a business understanding of their last role that went outside of their day to day tasks. It tells the interviewer whether the candidate really cares to know how to move the company forward, not just themselves. This is a great chance for a team player with an innovative mind to expose itself!

  1. If you could invite only three guests, living or dead, real or fictional, but not family or a love interest, who would your intimate dinner party guests be? – The Pepper Group

This is a great chance to see how the candidate will think on their toes. It usually takes a few nerve-wracking seconds for them to respond, so it will show you how they deal with pressure. A good answer will not only give you some insight on their priorities, but it will also show their creativity and their passions outside of work.

  1. What is your favorite band or musician? – Universal Information Services, Inc.

The actual answer to this question isn’t the focus. The emphasis is the passion that the candidate responds with. If they can’t get passionate about a single band or song, how can they get passionate about their work?

  1. What have you done professionally that you succeeded at, but isn’t an experience you’d want to repeat? – HubSpot

The answer the candidate gives here will tell you a bit about how they work and even more about how they don’t work! This will tell you how they respond to adversity and succeeded in a bad situation.

In a blog, HubSpot ‘s VP of Global Customer Support Michael Redbord tells us how they classify the answers in 3 different ways, each of which can tell you something different about the candidate:

  1. Something menial (e.g. envelope-stuffing). Pay attention to whether they understand the value of this getting done for the business, or whether they just think they’re too good for a job like that.
  2. Something really hard. Why was it hard? Was it because it was poorly planned, poorly executed, or something else? Where do they put the blame on it being such an unpleasant experience?
  3. Something team-related. Follow up with questions about the team, what their role on the team was, and so on.
  4. If you were a pizza deliveryman how would you benefit from scissors? – Apple

If you’re hiring for a position that requires problem solving and creativity, this question will tell you if the candidate is right or not! This will show you how a candidate can innovate and improve processes, while making the best of the tools at their disposal!

  1. What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently? – Applebee’s

If the role you’re hiring for involves communication this will let you know if the candidate can target their audience appropriately and be relatable. Even if you aren’t hiring for a role specifically requiring communication, this will give you a clue as to whether or not the candidate will be a good fit with the office culture. If you’re going to be spending 40 hours a week with this person, you should see if you can get along with them!

  1. If you were asked to unload a 747 full of jellybeans, what would you do? – Bose

The perfect question to ask a Project Manager. If they respond by asking about timelines, budgets and tools, you know they are right for the job! This shows how a candidate is able to chunk out problems and work their way towards solving the larger issue.

  1. How many people flew out of Chicago last year? – Redbox

Similar to the last question, this one tests a candidate’s analytical aptitude. The way that the candidate runs through the question will tell you whether they can solve a big problem logically without being overwhelmed. If they start talking about the number of runways and gates that’s a good sign! If they’re on about their last layover on the way to Florida, they may not be the right candidate.

What are your favourite, out of the box, questions to really get to know your candidates? Leave a comment below and let us know!

 

 

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10 Reasons Why Candidates Hate Your Recruiting Process

In most cases, your recruiting process is a candidate’s first impression of your organization and can easily affect whether or not a great candidate accepts your job offer.  If the entire process is a negative experience for the candidate, you will likely lose them, but it can also tarnish your reputation as an employer.  Don’t believe us?  Just look at this thread from Indeed with people complaining about Google, a world-renowned company as one of the best employers.

frustrated-job-seekerSo, what are the most common complaints candidates have about prospective employers’ recruiting processes?  We searched articles and forums across the Internet and put together this list of 10 job seeker pet peeves:

  1. Long, drawn-out online applications that ask too much information.
  2. Not being punctual with interviews, leading to a long wait in the reception area.
  3. Not researching the candidate before the interview. (Common career advice for job seekers is to learn about the company before an interview – the hiring company should do the same.)
  4. Multiple redundant interviews that have identical questions.
  5. Being unclear about the position and its availability or misrepresenting it completely.
  6. Demanding salary history and expectations before considering an interview.
  7. The opposite of #6 and ignoring questions about salary all together.
  8. Obvious discrimination, specifically age on both extremes.
  9. Lack of communication during and after the hiring process.
  10. When there is communication, sending unsympathetic rejection emails.

The recurring theme in most of these points is don’t waste your applicants’ time.  Passive job seekers especially, who most employers say are their ideal candidates, have very little extra time.  If your process is too long, you may lose them when they don’t feel your company is worth the extra effort.  Are you guilty of any of these?

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How to Keep a Fair and Consistent Hiring Process

You have a great opportunity and an influx of valuable candidates knocking on your door to get that job. (What a great problem to have!)  Who do you choose?

Before you jump to hire your favourite person, take a step back and make sure they’re really the best fit.  Was your screening process consistent enough?  Do you really know who the more qualified people are? Screening fairly

A fair and consistent hiring process ensures that when your options are marginally close, you pick the best person for your organization.  If anything, though, you should be concentrating on a fair process because it’s the right thing to do.

So, how can you be confident you’re recruiting ethically and in the best interest of your company?  Here are a few quick points:

  • Keep the entire process consistent for each and every applicant.
  • Make a plan that aligns with the goals of the open position before you even start to hire… and stick to that plan!
  • The plan should extend to interviews. Keep the same format, ask the same questions, and record all of the answers so you can review everybody fairly at the end.
  • Create a diverse hiring committee to help eliminate unintentional discrimination or biases. Each person can have different priorities for the new hire, but everybody should agree on the final plan and goals.
  • Periodically evaluate to make sure you’re still on track. Is everything still consistent?  Should something be added to the plan?
  • Have weighted qualifications. This will help you stick to the priorities and adds objectivity to your skills evaluation.
  • Written tests are also great, but make sure they’re marked objectively, possibly by an unbiased third party. Also be sure they’re relevant to the requirements and weighted accordingly.

But don’t miss out on great candidates!

Of course you need to be fair, but remain flexible and human.  Don’t rely on just numbers and select the candidate with the best score.  Your team’s feelings and intuition should still play a significant role. Remember to pay attention to unique skills and experiences a person may bring to the table.  They may be flashy and irrelevant, but they may also be valuable assets that align with your organization’s strategy.

How do you keep a fair and consistent hiring process? Share your ideas in the comments below!

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7 Tips for an Efficient Phone Screen

So you posted your job, went through the daunting task of looking through a huge stack of resumes, and managed to find a few potential candidates who you’d like to interview.  You need to call them to book an interview and most recruiters know this is the perfect opportunity for an initial screen.  After all, you don’t want to waste both your time and the applicant’s time in an unnecessary interview. phone-interview

The question is: how useful are your phone screens?  According to results of this month’s Virtual Recruiter Quick Poll, most hiring managers find phone screens give an accurate idea about a potential candidate.

A great initial phone call should qualify the candidate, get pertinent details, and keep the person excited about the opportunity, all while respecting their time.  Here are a few tips:

  1. Plan ahead
    Like everything else in business, preparation before you call the candidate is key to saving time and being as productive as possible. Identify exactly what you need in a candidate and prioritize it. Use the top criteria to create a template of questions you will ask every person you call. This not only keeps the phone call moving in the right direction, but it will ensure you’re comparing apples to apples in the evaluation process.
  2. Get the right questions
    The simplest rule: no fluff. If you’re calling your applicant out of the blue, they may not be in a position to talk for too long (if at all).  You need to be respectful of their time but you also need to assess them.  Only ask essential questions that will tell you if an interview is worthwhile and ask them in order of priority.  If you learn right away that they don’t qualify, you can politely thank them for their time and move on to the next candidate all within minutes.  For example, confirm they have the basic qualifications such as education or certifications, get a quick idea of salary, and confirm that their ideal start date works with your needs.  Simple yes/no questions are often all you need here, but you may consider a few open-ended questions to reveal conflicting desires (ex. they may mention that they prefer to work in a smaller organization, a different sector, or from home).
  3. Make it a conversation
    If you only want to ask questions, get answers, and hang up, then hire a robot to do your phone screens. This call may be the applicant’s first view into your organization, so you want it to be positive.  Open the dialogue by giving a quick overview about yourself, the company and the opportunity (don’t steal the show), give them time to respond to your questions in detail, and express an interest in the answers they give.  When you complete your questions, give them a chance to ask you questions.  They may screen you out right away – and that’s fine.  Nobody wants to do an interview that isn’t going to go anywhere.
  4. Avoid off-topic conversations
    You’d hate for 10 minutes to pass and realize that all you learned about is their hobbies and extra-curricular activities. Keep an eye on the clock and follow your plan.  Save the “getting to know you” conversation for the interview, the phone screen is all business.
  5. Assess communication skills and read between the lines
    After each phone call, before speaking with anybody else, write down a few notes. Do they do well on the phone?  Did they understand the questions?  What kind of vocabulary did they use?  Did they speak quickly?  Do they seem soft spoken? Depending on the role, some of these questions are more relevant than others.
  6. Find out if there are other opportunities
    Investigate if they have other offers on the table to gauge the urgency of your response. You would hate to lose a candidate because you took too long to schedule an interview. If you have a great potential candidate and they tell you they’re going for another interview tomorrow, schedule your interview as quickly as possible.
  7. Set expectations
    What’s involved in your recruitment process? Will it be a long interview? Keep candidates in the loop about what’s happening and what type of commitment you need from them during the hiring process.  The answers may not be favourable, but when you set expectations, they can prepare and will likely accept it.

Do you have any tips to add?  What do you think makes the perfect phone screen?  Please share your advice with other recruiters and hiring managers in the comments section below!