Posts Tagged ‘interview questions’

Devil’s Advocate Questions

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

“You’re just a title hunter, aren’t you?!”  This is an actual question/declaration made by an executive to one of our candidates recently.  The exec was challenging why this recruited, employed, productive candidate would make a move to his company.  The executive also was questioning whether the VP opportunities were more scarce than the candidate might have thought.  This is a “Devil’s Advocate” or negative style of questioning.  Other questions I’ve heard along these lines include “Why would you want this job?”, “Why should I hire you over any of the other people I’m considering?”, “Why would you want to leave your job?”

The tactic of playing devil’s advocate and asking contrarian questions is one that many interviewers like.  Some interviewers do it out of fear and ignorance.  They don’t like interviewing, or they are concerned about making the wrong decision, or they just don’t have better questions to ask.

In the best of circumstances, Devil’s Advocate questions are employed because the interviewer wants to put the candidate on the spot, see how they react under pressure, and seek more depth in the responses.  Most candidates react appropriately, don’t show any negativity and answer adequately.

BUT, what is the candidate’s take away from this style of questioning?  I’ve never had a candidate compliment a Devil’s Advocate approach.  They are usually put-off.   Most candidates don’t enjoy being treated this way.

I’ve written many times about the importance of incorporating “recruitment” into the interview process – making the evaluation a two-way street.  Not only are you evaluating the candidate, the candidate is evaluating you and your company, and you must meet them halfway, and ensure a positive perception.  Otherwise, some of the best candidates will just go elsewhere.

What can you do instead of this Devil’s Advocate approach?  Be sincere and transparent instead of negative.  Instead of the initial question about the title hunting, this exec could have said: “I want to be sure you really want the job that we are offering today.  Can you tell me more about your motivations to join our company?”  By revealing what you really want to know, you increase candidate intimacy, draw them in, let them know you are willing to be transparent…. And thereby, score some “recruitment” points… all while getting the real answer you’re after.

Our Least Favorite Interview Questions

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

There was a question posted in the LinkedIn Q&A Staffing and Recruiting section that I’ve been wanting to comment on.  The question is:  What is your least favorite interview question to ask or answer?  The question gathered 54 answers, from both recruiters and job seekers.  I’m fascinated by the answers.  I find that both sides, recruiters and job seekers, are exhibiting discomfort, fear, anger and maybe even a lack of professionalism in what they say are bad interview questions.

In the 54 answers cited as “least favorites” are standard and useful interview questions.  These include:

  • Why are you looking for a change?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Why do you want to work for our company?
  • Why do you want to leave your current organization?
  • What kind of a manager do you prefer?
  • How have you handled a difficult situation with a supervisor?
  • What is your greatest failure?
  • What questions do you have for us?

I have said for many years that recruiters and hiring managers are often bad at interviewing, so a recruiter who might cite one of the above as a least favorite just doesn’t know how to ask better questions, and/or, doesn’t know how to assess an answer to one of these.  I’ve also said many times that job seekers need to be prepared to show value to the employer in every answer they give, no matter the question.  You can’t have a least favorite interview question when you are out looking for a job.  There is no room for fear, a chip on the shoulder, or any other form of putting obstacles in your own way.  The stakes are too high.  For the job seeker, if you are having a live interview, that has tremendous value.  You can’t afford to “cop an attitude” because you don’t like a question.  And, as long as  I’m being critical, for the interviewer, how can you be so sure this person won’t do a good job, unless you do your job first.   Interviewers need to prepare meaningful questions that really get at whether the candidate can do the job, not mess around with “cute” questions, like “If you were an animal, what kind would you be?” (another least favorite).

With all the technological advances in business, sometimes I think hiring is still in the stone age.  People, be prepared.  Ask good questions, give good answers.

What Questions Do You Have For Me?

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

There is a moment near the end of job interviews when the interviewer finally is relaxed.  When the interviewer has been asking questions, and assessing your answers, they are working.  When you hear the magic question “What questions do you have for me?”, they are ready to relax.  This is a golden opportunity that most interviewees squander.

Biggest DON’T:  Do not ask about hours, benefits, vacations, all the “What’s in it for me?” questions.  There will be time to get these answered when the offer is being extended.

Employers do expect and value when you ask questions – it demonstrates genuine interest, so you do want to have a few serious questions ready.  You can perhaps ask about things that came up during the interview, and stay mostly focused on clarifying anything you need to understand about the company or the job requirements.

When you are talking to the hiring manager (the person who would be your boss), the most valuable thing you can do at this golden moment is capitalize on the interviewer’s relaxed state to create a bond AND cement your value to the employer, by showing them why you care about them, and about getting them the solution they need in this hire.  Ask:  “What keeps you up at night?”, or “What problems really get solved when the right person is hired for this position?”, or, “What gets better for you professionally when you bring in the right person for this?”

You may find that the interviewer lets down their guard, and really shares something meaningful.  Be sure to respond with an empathetic, solution-focused statement that further illustrates why you are the answer to their needs.  When you leave, the interviewer will say to themselves, “Wow, that candidate really GETS it!”  This favorable emotional response will help ensure you will get the offer.