How Employers Can Shake up the Typical Interview

How Employers Can Shake up the Typical Interview - Style Nine to Five

“What’s your biggest weakness?”

“Why should we hire you?”

“What has been your greatest achievement?”

“Tell me about yourself.”

Yawn. Most hiring manager have been there, done that. These typical interview questions can give you basic information about your interviewee, but chances are, the candidate has pre-rehearsed answers to these standard questions, meaning they can just respond with the answers you want to hear. This type of interview of canned questions and responses does little to tell you about who the candidate really is and they don’t do much for positioning your company as innovative or original. You already have their resume with details about their skills and experience, so using the interview to go over those details is another blasé way to spend your time.

The times are changing and so should job interviews. If you really want to get to know a candidate, it’s time to remix how you conduct your interviews. It’s also important to keep in mind that a talented candidate may have several offers from other companies, so why should they choose you? Demonstrating your thought leadership not only attracts great people, but it allows you to see the real side of an interviewee and get a solid idea of what they’re really like to work with. Thinking outside the box, these are some ideas to get you started in disrupting the norms and shaking up the same old job interview.

Ask Non-Work Related Questions

Since you already have their resume and work experience details in front of you, take this time to talk about something else and get a better sense of who they are and what makes them tick.

Examples of questions that have nothing to do with work:

• If you have an all-expenses-paid trip to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

• If you weren’t in this industry, what other profession would you have?

• Do you like camping? Why or why not?

• Agree or disagree: A burger is a sandwich.

• What’s your all-time favourite movie, and why?

These kinds of questions also opens up the opportunity to have a two-way conversation and so you can get a sense of their interpersonal skills. Do you they ask you what your answer would be? Are they engaged in hearing your thoughts too?

Ask Them to Complete a Task Ahead of Time

If problem-solving skills are important to the position, think of creative questions that also have a strategic element to them that will require your candidate to show off their ability to think analytically. Send them a question or assignment ahead of time and ask them to complete it before the interview.

The best assignments won’t necessarily have a right or wrong answer (which you can let them know in advance), but will let you see how they think, how they approach a problem, and what steps they take to tackle a project. For example:

A friend tells you that they inherited money from a relative and they’re thinking of opening a coffee shop in Vancouver. They want your opinion on whether it’s a good idea or not. What do you tell them?

The point of a question isn’t to find the perfect solution—it’s to see how the come to their conclusion. Do they take location and proximity to other coffee shops into account? Have they thought about competitive pricing? Marketing strategies? The ratio of big name coffee shops to locally-owned shops? Your main takeaway will be how they arrived at their answer and how much thought went into coming up with their answer.

Other examples:

• How many slices of pizza are sold in New York city each day?

• You start a dog grooming business and the next month a competitor opens a shop across the street. What’s your plan?

• I really want to meet Lady Gaga. How are you going to find a way introduce me?

If you want to test their presentation skills, take it a step further and ask them to create a PowerPoint deck that they can present to you during the interview.

Bring Them to Work!

A candidate might be able to talk the talk, but can they walk the walk? One way to find this out is to ask them to shadow you or another employee for a few hours. It doesn’t matter if it’s the same position they’re interviewing for or if it’s a totally different department or role—the idea is to see how they interact with the team, how they handle a challenge, and what their approach is when they’re thrown into a new situation.

Some key things that you’ll want to pay attention to during this exercise:

• Do they ask questions and take notes?

• Do they make conversation with their team members?

• Do they have a sense of humour about being in a new situation?

• What approach do they take to solve new problems?

• Do they learn by observing or by doing?

This also gives them a chance to see what it’s really like to work with your company. If it’s not the right fit, you can both identify that before you onboard them and realize this down the road.

Change your Surroundings

Ditch the meeting room or coffee shop interview and take your interview to a fresh location, like meeting at a local park or going for a walk together. Sitting across from a hiring manager at a board room table has a serious vibe that makes interviewees nervous, which doesn’t always bring out the best in who they are. Putting them at ease in a more relaxed locale sets the stage for a more informal, conversational interview rather than you grilling them in an office setting.

You won’t need to take notes and they won’t feel like they need to recite their resume—instead you can have open-ended questions ready that allow a natural conversation to flow between the two of you to give you a great sense for what their personality is.

If you want to find candidates that really stand out and make a strong addition to your company, you need to do your part too. Position your company as an innovative leader who thinks outside the box by pivoting away from the traditional interview and breathing some new life into how you screen candidates. Saying goodbye to the stress-inducing traditional job interview with a few new techniques can go a long way in showing you who a candidate really is and what kind of talent they truly have.

If you’re an employer who is looking for help with your hiring process, take a look at Style Nine to Five’s Recruiting Services to take the load off your plate and get the expert input of Founder, Christie Lohr.

By: Jeanine GordonJeanine is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for creating stellar content for global brands and small businesses alike – specializing in fashion and lifestyle.

Feature Image: Adobe Stock