If you’ve ever recruited people for your team, you know that others in your organisation will hold you accountable for the choices you make.

A study of 5000 Australian hiring managers found that failures in their talent acquisition strategy originated primarily from their interview processes. Your interview process should be designed to peel away that glossy hard shell and get to the core of the individual you are interviewing if you want to reduce your chance of failure whilst recruiting.

Here is some advice on how you can improve your interview process.


Stay away from cliches

“What is your greatest weakness?” How often have you used this question in your interview process only to hear the response, “Well, I’m a perfectionist” or “Sometimes I stay late at work so I can get all my work done.” These questions have been used to death and  no longer a surprise, subsequently, their answers received are well rehearsed by the candidate. If your interview is rigorously structured around these sorts of open ended, outdated questions, then you will always receive textbook answers.

Stay away from atypical questions. Instead, ask questions that will reveal these answers implicitly. Ask questions that will challenge the candidate and get them thinking, such as ‘What was your greatest mistake at work?”, “What has been your greatest moral dilemma at work?”

or ‘How would your team members describe you?’ and then stay silent whilst they respond.


Go in with a strategy

If you don’t know what you are looking for,  you will always hire poorly. Define exactly what it is you want in successful Talent and how you will evaluate what that looks like.

Prepare an interview guide with questions that you want answered by the candidate, but at the same time go in with an open mind and see where the interview takes you based on the responses received. The balance between a structured interview and an open discussion is important. Think of it less as structured interview and more as a guided discussion. An open relaxed interview style will put them at ease, this means they will probably reveal a little bit more of themselves to you. You might hear or see something in the Talent that you didn’t want to see, and that is a great outcome.

When hiring for culture, set clear expectations and do not compromise on them. Trent Innes, CEO of Xero, has a rule that he applies to every single interview, no matter the role. If the candidate who is being interviewed leaves their dirty cup in the room after the interview has finished, he will not consider them for the role, no matter how impressive they were during the interview


Challenge the interviewee

Asking challenging questions that are designed to throw the candidate off slightly and catch them out. The questions asked allow you as the interviewer to gain insight into the Talents thought process and seek out important information that the interviewee might not easily give away.

Some Talent will dance around the questions asked. First, because they do not want to answer honestly as they are trying to maintain their shiny facade, or second, they did not fully comprehend what you asked or are seeking in the first place.

If you feel Talent is avoiding a question, ask them again in a different way. Prompt them with a “Tell me more” or can you “Give me a specific example.” Often the hiring manager will lack confidence in their interviewing ability that they may not pay attention to red flags. Check out our blog on how to spot a pathological leader here. Don’t be afraid to probe for answers if your important question is not getting answered.

Remember, if you feel after an interview that you still don’t know the person you interviewed, get them back in for another interview, keep probing until you are comfortable.


Treating people dismissively or disrespectfully

In the first meeting, expect the Talent to be selling themselves. So a second interview is invaluable to unpack and find out who they really are. An interview is an artificial environment where both parties are on their best behaviour. The candidate will only give away as much of themselves as they have to in order to get the role.

Another way to assess an individual and how they will treat people, both superiors and subordinates is to have an interview away from your office in a less formal setting and observe how they interact with others.

This might sound extreme method but SouthWest Airlines in the USA follow an interviewee’ from the moment they leave home till they arrive at their Dallas office for the last interview. They monitor every interaction with every person. How do they communicate with the taxi or uber driver, the receptionist on arrival, the barista who is delivering their coffee during the meeting and will question each person for advice on their behaviour. Any poor responses will most likely result in a non-hiring decision.

It is important to note that it takes time to get to know someone. So be prepared to put in the time in order to get the best outcome for you, which is making a great hire.

Your interview process is the cornerstone in your talent acquisition strategy. Improving your organisation’s hiring is an ongoing process that must constantly be refined. It is important to consistently be measuring your efforts to look for incremental areas where you can improve. If you need any help with your interview process, contact the team at C3Talent.