If You Had a Time Machine, What Would You Do With It?

Time Machine

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Sounds a bit silly, I know, but a question like this could shed some light on your prospect.

You could frame the question a number of different ways:

“If you had a time machine and could only use it once, would you go to the future or the past? And why?”

“If you had a time machine and could go back in time to change one event, what would that be?”

And here’s one with a bit of an intellectual twist to it: “If you had a time machine and you knew using it would cause unintended effects on others, would you still use it?”

If you’ve been reading our Hiring Tips — and we have over 180 of them — you know I like to provide innovative ways to gain new insights into your prospect.

I’m thinking this is another one of those tips!



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Do They Know It All?

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Every so often you run into someone who considers there is nothing new to learn about a subject. And that subject may be the very thing you’re hiring for.

It could be how to sell; how to promote for new customers; how to do collections or really any subject in the workplace. It could even be how to properly stock a shelf. This person just believes he knows all there is to know about a particular subject. Or worse, they feel they know all there is to know on just about every subject.

And yes, we do enjoy working with people who are very certain of their job and their craft. But there’s a key difference between the person who is confident and certain and the person who “knows it all.”

That key difference is the willingness to learn something new.

If your candidate is so sure of himself that he conveys there is nothing new to learn, this is not a positive indicator.

So, how would we find this out in an interview? Well, you could conduct this brief Q&A:

“Frank, what subject in the workplace do you feel very certain about?”

Frank gives you a subject (hopefully).

When you ask this next question, be sure to watch your candidate closely when he gives the answer.

“That sounds great, Frank. So tell me, how eager are you to learn something new about (fill in the subject here)?”

If your candidate answers that he’s very eager to learn new things and his answer is given quickly and without any discomfort, that’s a good sign.

If he hems and haws a bit with his answer, that’s not the very best indicator.

If he tells you outright that he knows all that there is to know about the subject, well that’s a revealing answer as well.

I realize this next statement may date me some, but I recall what Popeye said many times in his animated cartoon show, “I am what I am and that’s all that I am. I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.”

If your guy feels he’s got it all and there’s no room for new ideas, a new perspective, a fresh way to go about things, then keep that in mind when making your hiring decision.

And for those who haven’t a clue who Popeye is, here’s a seven second video for your viewing pleasure:

Well, it’s not every day you see a short Popeye video in a Hiring Tip, but I hope the visual was helpful!



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


Have They Ever Volunteered?

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If your applicant has done volunteer work, it can tell us quite a bit about them. So, if it’s not on their résumé, it’s worth checking into.

What can volunteer work reveal about a candidate?

First a fast disclaimer: this is not going to be the case for every one who has volunteered, but for the vast majority of volunteers, I believe it can tell you the following:

  • They have a very human side to them.
  • They are not “all about the money.”
  • Compassion means something to them.
  • They will tend to be more of a team player.
  • They likely get along very well with others. If their “people skills” are weak, they likely consider it important to improve them.

If volunteer work isn’t indicated on the résumé, feel free to ask.

Dig a little and find out:

  • How much volunteering they’ve done?
  • How long were the projects?
  • Did they actively seek volunteer work?
  • What did volunteering do for them?

Again, I realize one can’t generalize about all volunteers, but there are certain human qualities that one can safely attribute to those who contribute in this way.

If you’re down to two candidates that are close to equal in many ways and one has considerable volunteer work in their background, that’d be a very strong factor for me.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


10 More Interview Questions

Hiring Interview

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In a couple of earlier tips, I provided 10 questions you could ask in the interview. It’s been awhile since those two tips, so here are another 10 you could use.

  1. What are you most proud of?
  2. What is the most important thing you learned in school?
  3. What is the most important thing you learned outside of school?
  4. Where do you want to be 10 years from today?
  5. If you discovered the company you work for is doing something illegal, what would you do?
  6. Who are your heroes?
  7. Which do you prefer: to be a leader or to be led by someone giving good, positive direction?
  8. What is the last book you read? (and when?)
  9. What do you do in your spare time?
  10. What would you do if you won the lottery?

I particularly like that last question and I want you to know right here and now that I fully intend to keep writing these hiring tips after I win the big one.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


Is Your Hiring Interview a One Way Street?

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Our purpose in the hiring interview is to find out as much as we can from our applicant. And we normally do this by asking various questions about their experience and hard skills and ideally we take some time to inquire about their soft skills.*

Normally this information is acquired through a “one way line of questioning.”

Let’s broaden this out a bit. Find out what the applicant wants to know about you.

Now a good number of interviewers will do this but the point of this hiring tip is to see just how far you can go with this approach.

Instead of asking Alice, “What would you like to ask me about working here?” you might handle this a bit more directly:

“Alice, I’m sure you have a list of questions about our company. Let’s get started with those.”

You really do want Alice to ask away. The more questions she asks you, the more insight you’ll gain.

If Alice is not prepared to ask you anything, you could nudge her along with:

“Well, I imagine you’d like to ask me about the company culture and what it’s like to work with the staff here.”

Then just sit there silent and await her response.

If you’ve mentioned pay but not in great detail, you could ask, “Did you want to ask about overtime or any off hour requirements we may have?”

Again, just ask and await an answer.

In Alice’s defense, her lack of curiosity may simply be that she is accustomed to the interview being a one way street. But she should want to know if the company is a good fit for her. She’ll find out some of that from your questioning but she’ll find out considerably more if she’s pro-active in the interview.

And the flip side of that is Alice may indeed have a shopping list of questions to ask. Let her ask away.

The more back and forth you have, the more you’ll learn.

* soft skills: personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.



To see how our employee test can help you bring better people on board watch this three minute video.



If you have ever interviewed someone and later discovered a "different" person is working for you, check out our new book How To Hire The Right People.


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