Bryony Gibson, Managing Director of Bryony Gibson Consulting, shares advice on the right questions to ask when you're searching for the perfect new recruit.
Richard Reed, co-founder of Innocent Drinks, said: “The single most important business decision one ever makes is who you get to come join your business”.
If you agree that an organisation is only as good as the people it keeps, then it follows that your company’s approach to recruitment should be one of the most important parts of your business plan.
Made up of a number of key phases – defining the role, building an employee profile, attracting talent, shortlisting applicants, the interview process, negotiating contracts and preparing for new arrivals – the typical recruitment process can take a long time and have a huge impact on your business and resource.
As the interviewer, your goal is to identify the perfect person in terms of ambition, personality and experience. If you’ve ever had to pick up the pieces of a bad hiring decision, you’ll understand how important this is.
In any interview, the best candidates will be well prepared and trying to make a good impression. With their guard up, it’s your job to get under their skin and find out what they’re really like.
The key is to build a strong rapport from the start. If candidates trust you, they’ll relax and that will make it easier for the conversation to flow in to topics they haven’t previously rehearsed.
This not only helps you to get a feel for their communication skills, but it uncovers potentially unseen aspects of their personality and behaviour, which is crucial to making sure they are the right fit for your business.
Try opening with a request for their personal and professional goals; and how they see the role fitting in with these.
Ask them to tell you about a situation that has brought out the best in them; giving examples and sharing the experience they feel makes them ideal for your company.
Other behavioural questions could be: What attracted you to this role? What are your motivations? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
All standard stuff, but this will give you an insight into how much research applicants have done, whether they fully understand the requirements of the role and if they are passionate about your industry.
It will also create a good basis for the rest of the discussion, and become an effective way to compare candidates against each other when making difficult decisions.
Once you’re happy that someone can do the job, you should move into unchartered waters.
Ask about any mistakes they’ve made. This is a great test of self-awareness and will show the scope of which someone is willing to take ownership of their actions; and whether they learn from their mistakes.
Ask who the smartest person they know is (and why). By getting people to explain this you’ll not only find out about their networks, but also the values and personality traits they aspire towards.
Find out what it is that gets them out of bed on a weekend. People’s passions outside of work are critical to fitting in well to any team environment.
Are they entrepreneurial? Examples of innovative ideas they’ve put into practice will help you measure whether they’re a self-starter, commercially minded or have a healthy attitude towards calculated risk.
Of course these are just a few examples to try and help you, but whatever you discuss, don’t forget that interviews are a chance to find out more for both parties.
While your aim is to work out what makes someone tick, they will most likely be doing the same to you, so make sure you give a good impression of your business too.