It takes proper screening and careful analysis to hire talent who will excel at their job and fit into the company’s culture. The tricky part is the right person isn’t always the smartest or the one with the most experience, so it can be difficult to identify them during a short interview.
In his book “Extreme Productivity,” Robert C. Pozen, senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, says that there are a few lessons he considers essential to the recruitment process. Below are some questions Pozen says you need to ask during the interview:
1. Ask the candidate to talk about their personal history, which includes where they grew up and went to high school. “The answer will help you understand their character and motivation; we are all heavily influenced by our roots,” Pozen writes.
2. Find out how they made the biggest contribution in their prior jobs and “working hard” should not be an acceptable answer. “You want to hear specifically how they came up with a different approach or solved a difficult problem.”
3. Pozen advises that you should “engage candidates in intellectual debate about a subject of their choosing that they know well.” Their answer can tell you a lot about how they think, how well they make their arguments and how they deal with counterpoints.
4. Ask them creative questions that have no absolute right or wrong answer, but will reveal the candidate’s problem-solving abilities. For example, you can ask “What are all the possible uses of a brick for our business?” and see how many different uses people can come up with.
5. Ask questions that will reveal how driven that candidate is about their expertise and potential position. Pozen says that you should hire the candidate with the most potential and not the one with the most experience in the industry because “a smart, hardworking individual will learn the intricacies of a new field.”
Furthermore, when conducting a reference check, the former employer may not want to provide too much information, so make it easy for them to “to subtly provide negative inputs” by asking specific questions, such as “Was this candidate the best you’ve worked with? Why not?,” “Are there any potential downsides to hiring this candidate?” and “Would you hire him or her back?”
In short, if you hire the right people, your company will grow. On the other hand, if you make the wrong choice, Pozen says you’ll spend a lot of time closely supervising your team and resolving disputes.
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