I have sat through some interviews which have been enlightening in terms of the struggles of hiring managers who do not hire often.  One of the blatant deficiencies I observed was this – a lack of good questions.  Is there anything more important than questions in interviewing an external candidate?  Even an internal candidate.

Here is one instance of what I observed – a rather inexperienced manager asked esoteric questions that left me scratching my head.  The candidate did a good job attempting to answer the question without embarrassing the hiring manager.  One question took almost 2 minutes for the hiring manager to ask!  The question included an analogy, an experience aspect and a hypothetical component…I think.

This interaction was a perfect example of the manager being too clever by half.

The most effective approach is to prepare for each candidate by writing down your questions for that candidate.  If your question takes more than 15-20 seconds to ask, cut it down.  If you choose to use an analogy, test it out on a coworker.  If they struggle with it, rework it (or scrap it).  The most effective questions are direct, succinct and open-ended.  Provide the candidate with the opportunity to navigate to the answer they would like to offer.  Pay attention to the topics they choose – there is much to discern in that information.

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