I have always been against the principle of helping people to prepare for an interview. All the interview tips are great to help them prepare for joining the workforce but in the process, their unique personalities (and habits) lay buried under the cover stories about commitment, passion and skillsets. It’s all so scripted.
This is probably the reason why one-hour interviews fail to unearth the real person within; and only after the employee has joined your company that you realize they have lied in their resume; they are just all talk, no walk; they cannot work under minimal supervision or with any other team members, or they have the tendency to make the company adapt to their likes and preferences (true story).
The Existing Problem
When advice-mongering sites give candidates sample answers to give, and the candidates take those sample answers to their interviews, everyone becomes the same faceless drone. That’s when recruiters may have to resort to unorthodox interview methods to separate the sheep from those who know what they are doing.
And let’s face it, half an hour is real easy to fake through and does little to nothing to help you decide. Plus, most resumes are spell-checked (any interview guide will suggest doing that) and hyped up, so if you base you base the recruitment on just their CV, the candidate in real-life may come up short of your expectations.
Unless you are searching for someone who will only be doing one thing over and over again, chances are you need them to be great problem-solvers. But don’t just ask them how they would solve a problem, introduce these problems into the interview (not during the probation period, or after they are confirmed).
If you want your employees to have certain ‘talent’ criteria, there should be an effort to make them display their talent in the interview room itself. Heineken did exactly this to sort through candidates for their internship program. It’s a classic case of " don’t tell me, show me" and it’s just brilliant.
But the best video to really illustrate this is the test scene in Men In Black. I know it’s just a movie but the principle’s the same. Put them in an uncomfortable position (see: make things ridiculously uncomfortable) and see how they react.
Put Ants In Their Pants
Textbook methods are only going to get you average, mediocre candidates to join your company. Short of putting ants in their pants, there are a lot of things you can do to spruce up the atmosphere in the interview room, for instance, :
Asking off-track questions
Simple questions like "How did you get here this morning? Was the traffic bad?" can ease them into putting their guard down, and revealing more about their true self.
Plus, you get an inside look into their lifestyle: does he take public transport, does he live far from here, does he drive, does he still lives with his mother, and if he has an opinion on how to solve problems, or if he is the wait-and-see kind.
Put up special items in the room, items that are designed to distract. One of the things that will work pretty well is a mirror or a reflective surface. You’d be surprised at how many candidates think looking good during the interview trumps paying attention to the questions.
The best place for it, right above your head, behind you. Even when they steal peeks, you’d notice.
Test Their Drive
Some jobs require you to be non-tolerant of certain situations. A chef should be picky about the quality of his raw materials, a restaurant manager about cleanliness, or a sales rep about sale quotas.
Apply this to the interview process, and you can give an editor an IQ test that is riddled with mistakes, a biodata form in Comic Sans to a designer to fill in, or put a hideous vase near the corner of the interview room when interviewing an interior designer.
When their natural instincts get the best of them and they voice out about these ‘atrocities’, you know you got the right person for the job.
Catch Them Off Guard
Rather than resort to oddball questions, there are many other ways to catch a candidate off guard and see how well they approach problems. For instance:
- in your expected salary section in the company form, but only 3 boxes and see the answers that candidates give
- turn up late for the interview and say, "Oh, you’re early" and watch how they tackle with the situation
- bring in the resume for another (non-existing) candidate, explain the mistake and watch how the candidate try to sell him/herself and trump the ‘other’ candidate.
Sometimes, though, it boils down to how you click with the candidate. You might even consider trying to simulate an actual working environment or to explain how things are going to work if the candidate gets the job.
Understanding where candidates are coming from — after peeling all the surface layers — may help find you a candidate that will be a great addition to your company.
Recruiting is a costly endeavor but it is not worth getting a bad apple to join in the growing orchard. Rather than choosing to extend the lengths of probation periods, you can always just throw them into the heat of the battle and see how they escape the zone or better yet, win the battle.
What interview methods have you tried out which helped you catch a great addition to your company?