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It’s true – most employee terminations are a result of having made a bad hiring decision to begin with. Now, that’s not to say that every Contagious Leader does interviewing perfectly and never has to have the “up and including termination” consequences conversation, but certainly they mitigate the frequency of those events. Let’s look at a few questions you can ask in your initial interviews for a new employee, and in partnership with Human Resources, of course, that will dramatically reduce the number of times you’ll have to say “you’re fired”.

Story Questions

Many, if not most, struggle with telling great stories on the fly and without practice. Thus, when you ask an interview candidate “Tell me about a time when you have excelled at work and what happened as a result”, you’re likely to get the truth… plus a WHOLE lot more. In fact, with this one simple question, sometimes called Targeted Interviewing, you are likely to find out this person’s recognition style, any challenges they had with another team member, ability to work well on a team, competitive tendencies and so on. Stories will tell you …well, a story and from that you can glean volumes of information and reasonably ensure that most of the truth is being told.

Open Ended Questions

It is no secret that it seems some potential employees head off to interview school prior to showing up in your office. This is evidenced by the smooth as glass answers to questions like “What are your weaknesses?” and “What are your strengths?” Both questions are age old and useless. When you hear an answer on the weakness question that sounds like “I work too much” or “I’m a perfectionist” and answers to the strengths question that make this person sound like they show up on pages 11-45 of the Guinness Book of World Records, look out! Part of the problem is the question. Ask questions that have a multitude of possible answers and not yes or no, or well practiced responses. These might include:

  • What type of task or responsibility would you enjoy doing the most? (and don’t provide multiple choice answers)
  • What type of person do you think you struggle with the most?
  • Who has been the most influential person in your life and why?
  • What habits do you have that you believe have held you back from your idea of success?
  • What is your absolute favorite work related thing to do?

There are dozens of options here and each of the above may actually tell you information that in some cases you are not allowed to ask, including age, children or not, and smoking. This is not a way of being tricky, it is a way of ensuring that the job is a good fit for your candidate and the candidate is a good fit for the company, the team you lead, and the job.

Between story questions and open ended questions, you will be miles ahead of those who either wing it or ask the same old tried and true questions used by millions of managers the world over. Use the ones that work and pay attention to not only the answers, but the things that are not said. Don’t read as much into body language as we might have been told to do in the past and hear your instincts when they are screaming at you. Interviewing and finding the candidate that is a good fit is both an art and a science. Fortunately, this process, much like leadership, can be learned if you have the desires, the skills, and are willing to practice. The goal, of course, is to find employees who wish to stay longer, produce more, and complain less than the ones you might be replacing and sometimes that can take a little work to find the right fit. The work is worth it and so are you!

Stay Contagious!

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