Have You Ever Hired a Dud?
By: Scott Colebourne
My top 3 recommendations for deeper insight during job interviews as well as the best interview question ever.
Have you hired someone that you thought was going to be amazing and within the first month on the job you regretted the decision? I’m going to share with you three areas to pay more attention to when you’re conducting job interviews.
Every company is in competition. The obvious competitive market is for customers, however, we’re all also in competition for amazing team members so that we can attract and retain more customers. The challenge is that a surface level job interview only provides a brief snapshot of the candidate. For an inexperienced manager, this job interview can quickly become a minefield that results in a bad hire.
The good news is that by paying attention to these three points and asking the best interview question ever you’ll be able to learn more about your candidates and make better hiring decisions.
Is the candidate prepared for the interview?
This may seem like an obvious consideration, however surprisingly for many candidates that’s not the case. We all live in a fast-moving world and due to advances in technology the traditional face to face interview is no longer considered the norm.
I have conducted the majority of my interviews via video calls and it still surprises me how may candidates don’t take these seriously. Frequently I interview candidates dressed sloppily, or taking the video call from their car, or even worse whilst driving! At times it seems like the candidate didn’t think this was an “actual interview”! My advice to managers, candidates, and everyone is that life is one big interview and we should always be prepared to showcase our best selves. If that means taking extra time to prepare, then that’s what it takes.
In addition to ensuring they are dressed appropriately, have scheduled themselves to be in the right location and time for an interview, it’s critical that the candidate has done their research on the position and the company. As an inexperienced interviewer I used to believe that when a candidate didn’t have any questions that this was the sign of a great interview. I’ve come to realize that this usually means that either I’ve spoken too much, or the candidate isn’t truly interested in the company and hasn’t taken the time to research to see if the position and the company are a good fit for them.
Lean into the candidate’s non-verbal communication
Generally speaking, for hospitality and service positions such as tennis professionals and coaches we are looking for great communicators. It is critical when conducting interviews to looks for and hire for these skills. It is rare that a student remembers every tip that a coach gives them, however they will almost always remember a memorable coach due to the passion, and energy they communicate with.
Passion and energy in my opinion are very easy to hire for, if you’re truly paying attention to the candidate’s non-verbal communications during an interview. Non-verbal communication is typically considered to be everything outside of spoken or written word, including gestures, facial expressions, body movement and posture. However, I also extend this to include tone and the tenor in one’s voice.
When conducting an interview, I am constantly evaluating the non-verbal’s and running questions in my own head. Is there energy in the candidate’s voice? Are they excited when talking about previous related positions? Do they speak about themselves enthusiastically?
When I ask questions are, they listening intently? Do they appear approachable and friendly?
By truly paying attention to the non-verbal’s it has become much easier to predict the future success of a candidate for service-based positions.
Dive deeper into their prior experience and education
As an interviewer I recommend taking as much time as the interview is scheduled for, to research and prepare for the interview. Ideally, by the time you are interviewing the person you have a good feeling about them and you’re not wasting anyone’s time. You shouldn’t feel like preparation is wasted time. If it does feel wasted, then I would question if you are truly excited about filling the open position with the right person. As part of that research you should not only do background research online for the candidate to learn more about them, but also dive deeper into their prior experience or education. This research will allow you to ask better question in the interview. For example, the difference between “Tell me about position XYZ” is a vastly inferior question compared to “What specific skills did you learn whilst working at position XYZ”.
When diving deeper into their experience I recommend finding an area where you have higher level skills, or a part of their experience that matches up with the position you’re hiring for. Then focus on that skill and pose a specific question such as “Can you tell me about your experience in and recommendations you’d make to others when coaching High Performance Doubles players?”
This question not only asks for their experience but also requires them to think and provide guidance for others. If the candidate has this level of experience, then most likely they’ll
produce a great answer.
The best interview question ever
In my experience, a good interview question tells you more about the candidate, but an amazing question gives you deep insight.
I believe the best interview question is….
“What’s the worst job you’ve ever had, and why?”
As an open-ended question it gives the candidate the ability to expand and give a meaningful answer. More importantly though is the content of that answer. I was hiring for a tennis professional position and I asked this question. The candidate answered with ‘my current job’, which I knew was a job working at a tennis academy. When prompted as to why, the candidate responded that it was “too hard.” At that point I made the decision that if their current job was the worst job they’d ever had due to it being too hard, that this candidate didn’t have the required grit to work in the position I was hiring for. Over the years, I’ve also had many great answers. In my opinion, the great answers allowed the candidates to showcase different experiences in their background. Maybe where they have taken less than desirable jobs because they needed employment, or they’ve learnt from those positions what they do and don’t like, or aren't as successful at. Over the years this question has really helped me reduce the number of “regret” or “mistake” hires.
The hiring landscape can be a minefield, particularly for inexperienced managers. However, by thinking a little bit out of the ordinary I believe you can find the extraordinary candidates.
Please let me know in the comments what your favorite interview question is to ask, why, and maybe some of the best answers you’ve received.