I have quite an unusual style of interviewing job candidates that has served me well over the past decade. First, I don’t put much weight on CV except to look for a few things: Have the candidates jumped around from job to job? Or do they join businesses and stay? This is important because employees often changing jobs cost an organization a lot of money.
To me, education level matters when candidates haven’t had more than two to five years of job experience. After that, it’s not so important. Also, the more well-known a candidate’s school is, the more likely the person will look forward to getting promoted or receiving a higher salary. Of course, education does matter for positions that require a background in science or law.
Once I begin the interview, I make it short. My interviews usually take only five to ten minutes. First, I ask why the person wants to work for my business. I want candidates to be well-informed about us! If they don’t seem excited about our mission and vision - or worse, if they don’t know what we deal with and applied only to get a better salary than elsewhere - the interview is over.
Then I ask candidates to describe the biggest, most glorious mistake they have made in their business careers - including all of the details. I am still surprised that a lot of candidates think about it and then say they haven’t made any major mistakes in their careers. To me this says that the candidates are either lying or don’t take risks. Again, I can’t pay money to passive employees.
My final question tests a candidate’s ability for solving problems. For example, I ask this: “Let’s say we have to do a special promotion in a city 1000 miles away. You have ten days and a small budget of £1,000. How can you deal with it?" I don’t expect a realistic answer, but most people asked about something unusual or exceptional end up saying, “it’s not possible."
Of course, we also ask candidates for necessary skills. Then we test what they have told us about their typing speed, formatting skills or Excel. We give them messy data and ask them to organize it into tables and graph it. If it is PowerPoint, we ask them to make a sample slide show. I have been disappointed more times than I can remember by people lying about what they can do.
In my business I want to have people with passion - the biggest benefit employees can bring. I expect employees to show their engagement apart from the necessary knowledge and skills. But I sometimes make a mistake and don’t choose well. If an employee just doesn’t work out in the first few months, I believe in finishing the relationship quickly. In opposite case I give a pay rise.
adapted from http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com
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