What do you look for in a good candidate? That’s the magic question. There is an easy answer. It’s the candidate who is the best qualified candidate to do the job, right? Well, yes in that respect but, there are other factors to consider. Aside from the legal-type considerations, and believe me there are plenty, there is something called behavioral interviewing that you should really consider.
So, what is behavioral interviewing? Long story short, it’s getting the candidate to talk about their previous (work related) experiences and describe past projects, success stories, failures, reflections and how they may have handled their failures differently with a more favorable outcome. What does all this mean to the interviewer? It means you need to SHUSHHHHHHH…listen to the candidate talk. One of the most interesting things that occur during interviews is that the interviewers talk more than the candidates do.
Stop for a minute and think back to every job you’ve ever interviewed for. How many times has that happened to you? My guess is that it’s happened a lot of time throughout your career. Why does this phenomenon occur? Well, the easy answer is that most people don’t like long gaps of silence. It falls outside of their conversational comfort zone. They like to “fill up” the dead air space. Additionally, listening is not the same as hearing. You can hear a lot of things but, are you really listening? Have you really honed the skill of being able to filter out all external stimuli thus being able to focus on only one thing solely? Most people would probably not admit to being able to do that though. Let’s face it, we are told continuously by our teachers, peers, mentors and supervisors that being able to multi-task adds great value to our job and works well for meeting overall objectives. In the interview though, not only could your multi-tasking be mis-interpreted by the candidate as being rude (for example looking at your email, sending a quick text or answering a call), you are also missing out on actually listening to the candidate talk about their experiences.
Bottom line, ask your question. Hopefully, its open ended and behavioral based. Then, listen to the candidate’s response. Process their response, and then ask another probing question to their response. Do this until you are satisfied that you have a good feel for the fit in matching the candidate’s professional experiences to your company’s mission and where you want that candidate to add the most value for you.
After all, you want to feel extremely comfortable that you know this person will grow to be your star top performer!