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Interviewing Job Candidates? These 4 Things Should Trump Experience Every Time

If your team only focuses on prior experience during the interview process, you risk hiring poor candidates who aren’t a fit for your team. Here’s what you should do instead.

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BY Adam Robinson - 28 Aug 2018

Interviewing Job Candidates? These 4 Things Should Trump Experience Every Time

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

 

When it comes to the hiring process, prior job experience often has the least level of correlation to actual job performance. But job experience tends to be the topic employers spend the most time asking candidates about in interviews.

While asking about job experience is important, it shouldn't be the focus of the entire interview. Instead, consider asking questions that will help you determine whether or not job candidates possess the following super elements of top performers.

1. Attitude

To set your team up for success, you want to surround yourself with employees who are motivated and have positive attitudes. Top employees have positive attitudes with their day-to-day work, when interacting with customers and when interacting with fellow employees.

My team even has a core value dedicated to this super element - pathological optimism. We recognize there's always a process that's broken and continuous room for improvement, but accept these challenges and focus on achieving our goals as a team.

To determine a job candidate's attitude, consider asking questions about what frustrated them in a previous job or what makes it harder to do their job. Individuals with the desired attitude you want on your team will answer the question in a positive manner, such as explaining the frustration and how they went about overcoming it to achieve their goals.

2. Sense of Accountability

Top performers feel empowered to take control over the outcomes of their work, rather than blaming colleagues or other external factors when something at work doesn't go as planned.

During the interview process, ask candidates to share an example of a time they set a goal at work that was not achieved and how they responded. When candidates answer, listen closely to measure whether or not they hold themselves accountable. If a candidate says he or she developed a plan to better achieve the goal next time, he or she likely has a strong sense of accountability.

3. Prior Job Success

Many candidates who apply to your open roles might not have direct experience in your given industry or a related role. But this doesn't mean you should overlook the candidate. Instead, ask the candidate about how success was measured in his or her previous role. For example, if the candidate worked in sales, he or she likely had a quota that needed to be met. Or if the candidate had a customer success role, he or she might have had customer satisfaction goals.

No matter the prior job experience, if your candidates can share how they achieved goals in a previous role, or specific examples of successes they were proud of, they'll be more likely to reach any goals set by your team.

4. Culture Fit

Culture fit essentially means the degree to which the candidate shares similar values with the organization, and demonstrates an authentic interest in the job at hand In many cases, employee culture fit is much more important than how a candidate looks on paper.

If you hire an employee who isn't a culture fit, not only will the employee be less likely to succeed in his or her open role, but he or she can have a negative impact on your team, causing productivity to take a hit.

When interviewing candidates, focus a handful of questions on culture fit. For example, one of my team's core values is "Create wow moments." To assess culture fit with this value, you might ask a candidate about a time they really went above and beyond to do great work, help a team member or truly satisfy a culture.

You can also measure culture fit when you ask why a candidate is interested in working for your team. If he or she is vague and doesn't have a clear reason for being interested in the role, this might be a culture fit red flag. But if the candidate makes it clear he or she is motivated by your core values and your team's mission, it's a great sign in terms of culture fit.

Shaping your interviews around these four super elements can help you identify candidates who are most likely to excel on your team and weed out poor fits for your open roles. Which other traits does your team look for beyond prior job experience?

 

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