When I worked in Campus Housing – now more than five years ago, wow – I was often part of an annual interviewing experience known as Placement. The University of Wisconsin-Osh Kosh runs an amazing event every year (as do other professional associations). They turn the entire conference center into an interviewing cattle call. And I just want to say that I mean that in the very best way.
Colleges and Universities descend upon the campus with their interview teams and they spend about three days meeting every possible candidate they can for whatever positions are available. By the time the final social event rolls around and the placement teams get back in the mini-van or Uber to the airport, there are always about 20 candidates who have risen to the top. The candidates whom everyone wants to hire.
At one of my previous employers, we would have a debrief meeting before leaving the conference site. Each interview team would make a list of our list of top candidates. And since our Director did not believe in wasting time, he would vet those candidates at the conference site so our Assistant Director could make on campus interview invitations the following Monday.
I’m sure that corporate America has a similar type of placement event, especially large organizations who hire entry level staff right out of college. The top talent have been identified and now “everyone” will do what they can to attract those candidates.
This is probably similar to colleges pursuing high school athletes to play for them.
However you, the employer, are going about hiring good talent, there are specific interview questions that can be asked. According to Forbes Human Resources Council,
“The secret to attracting high-quality applicants is differentiating yourself from other industry players, and showing top talent how joining your company can help them reach their career goals.”
How to Hire the Elites by Asking the Best Interview Questions
Craft interview questions that will convey your message: your company is unique, cutting edge, and values their contributions.
Melissa Nelsen of Johnson Service Group shares specific things about what candidates are seeking in their next position. These include:
- Opportunity for Growth
With this in mind, here are some possible questions that employers can ask to attract top talent.
If we define job stability as the duration one perceives to keep his/her current job without external factors, then ask a question about your industry. Require your candidate to forecast something within the company or industry.
“Please describe five ways you expect this position to change over the next five years, taking into consideration company growth, industry advancement, and technology changes.”
Job Security exists when Human Resources cannot just replace “me” with another person. “I” provide unique skills and talents that won’t necessarily be found in a new candidate.
It’s different from stability, where the job you have is stable in the company and industry, and you don’t worry about not having a paycheck. Ask something that will require the candidate to share those unique talents.
“There are many other candidates applying for this position who possess the same skills as you. With that in mind, what three unique factors do you bring to our organization?”
Opportunity for Growth
Will there be room for promotion within your company for this candidate? He might be looking for a place where he can contribute and be promoted several times over.
While in my experience, this is hard to do these days, it does not mean your top candidates will not aspire to do this.
“Where do you see yourself and/or your career five years from now?”
Or try this: “What are your long-term career goals?”
Candidates want to know that their company shares values and has a view of the future. Get to their ideas of this by asking what they are seeking in an employer. You’ll know if the top talent want to be with you if their answer aligns with your company vision and mission.
“What values are most important for you at your place of business?”
Or try this: “How does our vision and mission align with your personal values?”
Finally! That question of “fit.” Candidates want to know that their new place of business will feel right, they will belong and enjoy coming to work because they just love being there.
As an aside here, this is an area of my career that took me a very long time to appreciate and understand. There were days when all I cared about was salary, job title or a cool city. It took a couple very poor fit situations before I figured out myself how to ask the questions I needed in order to make a decision, should I be offered a job. Even then it didn’t always work.
So we, as the employer, can make this a bit easier on that Top Talent by asking a few of these questions ourselves.
“What three things are you seeking in your day to day job environment?
Or try: “How can we insure that we are providing a work environment that is comfortable and meets your needs?”
I loved this question explanation from tint.com:
“We know that you have choices, so if we make you an offer, we obviously want it to meet your needs. And that requires knowing what factors that you will use (i.e. pay, job duties, fit with your manager, levels of responsibility, etc.) to determine if ‘our job’ is the right job for you. So if you had a choice between two offers for your next job, please list the top five factors that you would use to evaluate and accept the superior job opportunity. Please list them in their descending order of importance to you.”
This question set doesn’t beat around the bush. Seriously. I wish I’d thought of this one myself.
I’m not offering an interview question here, as I personally do not believe that benefits should be discussed during the initial interview.
Much of this can be found by the candidate on the company website. And if the candidate has done her research, she will ask anything that has piqued her interest.
Candidates want to know that they are going to work for a company or organization that is on the cutting edge of new and innovative practices and technology. They want to know that their employer is going places; and obviously the company wants this from their candidates.
We are only as good as our worst employee, right? Try these questions to sense how your candidate can utilize innovative practices.
“Tell me about a time when you lacked the skill or experience to complete a project or assignment? How did you get through it?”
Or try: “Select one of our products (or services) and share with me three ways you might be able to make it better.”
The Bottom Line
By putting emphasis on these areas of value for today’s job seekers, employers can seek and sign the top talent for your industry and make your Senior Management proud. And don’t shy away from asking candidates to further explain their answers.
These are fairly “non-traditional” interview questions that could trip up your candidate. So give them room to think and encourage them through non-verbal cues. Here’s to hiring the best possible talent for your team!
More Resources About Job Interviews
- 10 Things Strong Interview Candidates Do That Make Them Get Hired Every Time
- How I Get Interview Opportunities Every Time with One Impressive Letter
- The Best Answers to the 7 Worst Interview Questions
- Top Secret! 20 Extraordinary Answers To Tricky Interview Questions
Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com
|||^||Johnson Service Group: What Are Candidates Looking for in a Great Company?|
|||^||TLNT: 12 Interview Questions That Will Reveal the Very Best Candidates|