In our previous article, we shared about what hiring managers are really looking for. We also spoke about interviewing for the 4As - Assertiveness, affableness, attractiveness, and articulacy. We promised you a continuation of that article so here it is. In this one, we will share the minority of those who actually conduct interviews with key criteria in mind instead of being bowled over by the candidate’s affability.

We hear you ask - wouldn’t your hiring managers ask you interview questions based on what is important to know for the job? Well, yes and no. Ask yourself this – do all “top candidates” turn out to be top employees?

Lou speakingIn Lou Adler’s (the CEO and founder of The Adler Group) Recruiter’s Handbook would explain that that is most definitely NOT the case.

Progression’s consultants are trained by Lou Adler, a leader in recruiting and hiring. He helps companies implement performance-based hiring techniques to attain the best talent. His methods are often thought-provoking, creates awareness, and strategically encourages people to follow through the process of hiring correctly.All hiring situations are different and about one-third of the time, according to Adler, top candidates can make great presentations, yet great presentations don’t necessarily reflect good performance at work. At the same time, great employees are also not necessarily “great candidates”, showing up knowing exactly what to say, unless that person attends 10 interviews a month. So as a candidate, how do you portray yourself best with interviewers who can interview right and see beyond the “presentation”? Adler broke it down into a couple of pointers targeted at hiring managers. But we have collated the same points, for you to understand what hiring managers mean when they are asking specific questions and what you can pay attention to when you’re answering these questions.  

Here’s how Adler breaks down right interviewing techniques:

  1. Quick job share and review of candidate’s background

    For hiring managers:
    Spend a few minutes talking about the scope of the job and encourage your candidate to share their background – what they’ve been exposed to and what they’ve done. That will give you a good overview of their background.

    For candidates:
    Get to the point. Be honest and straightforward about the scope of your jobs and career to date, give a tight and short overview but allow space for the hiring manager to be able to dig in and ask specific areas. Try not to spend more than 15 minutes for an overview, keep it down to 5 minutes or less. E.g. My first 10 years were spent with these companies where I was covering sales in domain X and Y. I enjoyed it largely but later on, I got a chance to do a startup role in that and that company and I did everything from BD to sales to after sales. My most current role is doing this and this at this company, where I covered A and B for C and D domain where this area is quite related to your company which is what I am quite excited about.”

    Resist doing a blow by blow in an overview because you are there to prove you can do that job which solves certain problems, not tell your life story. Describing to your hiring manager why this job stood out for you will also make you stand out as someone who has prepared and thought about the required contributions needed to this particular company.

  2. Overcome impact of the first impression to increase objectivity

    For hiring managers:
    First impressions are formed within the first three seconds of meeting someone. Whether you’re conscious of it or not, you have most likely formed an impression on your candidate who just walked through the door. Regardless of the first impression, overcome it by increasing objectivity of the interview itself. Adler suggests hiring managers to write down what they observe before and after the interview – how you feel about the candidate? If the candidate tensed, distracted, relaxed or neutral? And compare as your impressions might change after spending an hour with them. Remember to look through these notes and again at the end of the interview when you don’t have a preconceived judgment about them anymore.

    For candidates: Be conscious of your body language. Be professional. Be enthusiastic. Have good energy is always what we tell our candidates. As odd as this sounds, make an effort to stay “nice” for a good portion of the interview to give the hiring manager enough reason to keep on interviewing you. Hiring managers had told us once that when they held on and kept the interview going, a lot of times the interview turned out better than how it started. So hang on, stay nice and keep going.

  3. Review work history to look for achievers

    For hiring managers: Ask them about their positions, their companies and if they have received any recognition for the job they have done – this can include promotions. This is when candidates can also explain why they left their job or what the gaps between each job are. This is to find the general trend of motivation to leave or to join a company, especially yours.

    For candidates: Are you leaving your past companies for the same reasons? Might be time to reflect. If you are leaving consistently because of bad bosses, you might need to understand what traits to avoid or if the problem is you. If you are always promoted internally, it can show growth and recognition from the company – talk about that! Hiring managers always keep an eye out for the candidates who achieve their quotas, for example, or business goals. When your hiring managers ask about your work history, it is good for you to share about similar projects or sales you’ve done. Alternatively, ask them about certain projects they’re working on, and share how it is comparable to a project you’ve done before.

  4. Dig into major accomplishments looking for comparability and growth

    pexels photo 630839For hiring managers:
    Ask your candidates about their Most Significant Achievements (MSA). Allow them the time to describe their KPI’s, whether they’ve hit their quotas, their major accomplishments that propelled their company forward. MSA questions may differ across job. Dig deep and get insights on HOW they achieved those goals, the team size, the support, the challenges faced, how did they solve it. When done well, this is a 15-20 question exercise that gives you a lot of info for you decide if the person can come in and do the job with these limitations as well.

    For candidates:
    Be prepared for your hiring managers to get straight to the point with finding out your major accomplishments in your jobs, keep it SMART, the background and context of how you executed the goal, the major challenges faced and if you resolved it. Share the success and failures, describe the planning and milestones. What were the decisions you made and why? How did you grow as a person? Use “I” when it is what you did and “we” when it is a team effort. Be transparent about who did what to establish credibility.

  5. Q&A period for the candidate to ask relevant questions

    For hiring managers:
    Don’t be the only one speaking throughout the interview. Put aside 10 minutes to hear your candidate’s thoughts, the questions they may have. You can get a sense of understanding as to what’s important to them or what they’re thinking if you listen to the questions they ask. This will also give you time to address their concerns.

    For candidates: Raise concerns you may have, or questions that you’ve thought about during the interview. This is a good time to ask questions about key projects the company may have, what are some of the qualities a person who is likely to succeed at the job will have. 

  6. Assess candidates using key performance criteria’s

    For hiring managers: Adler uses a scorecard that categorises candidates into three main categories: basic competencies, core competencies, and situational fit factors. Under these main categories, he further breaks down each candidate into different factors such as skills, managerial fit, or team skills for example, and the levels (level one to five) that these candidates fall into. Think about what some of the key performance criteria’s are for the role you’re hiring. Would one of his/her KPI’s be achieving a specific quota? Would it also be important for the person to manage complex projects or provide unique solutions to challenges? Would you consider those factors key performance criteria’s? Every hiring manager has a different set of criteria that they use to rank candidates. If you’re unsure, ask your headhunter to share how they rank their candidates and if it’s something that you can tap on. 

    For candidates: From the JD or the company profile, you’d be able to guess the top areas they are evaluating and prepare for them. If you’re unsure, you can ask the interviewer or your headhunter. If your headhunter is any good, they will know what the company is looking out for and what are the KPI’s that the candidate needs to be able to achieve.We encourage our candidates to tell us how they fare across the different areas of key performance criteria’s and if there are significant gaps that they can address in the interview. This gives the interviewer a chance to evaluate and a chance for the candidate to elaborate on areas that might not have been given time earlier on to talk about. Asking for the “score” after each criterion has been checked, gives way for an honest fit assessment, which either the hiring manager or the headhunter should take with you to find the right fit and hopefully, a meaningful move.

Written by Yasmeen Banu and Josephine Chia