Recently, a new potential client asked if I could develop some “good” interview hiring questions. I asked her if she could define what she meant by “good” question. Her response was, “I need questions that’ll enable me to know whether I should hire a particular individual.” Her answer led me to ask what information she needed to “know” so that she could make a hiring decision.
Over my career, I have been asked and answered hundreds of hiring interview questions. I’ve also asked my share of hiring interview questions. Over many decades, hiring interviewers have tried numerous styles of questions. I can remember when psychologically-based questions were all the rage. One potential employer actually required me to spend an entire day with a psychiatrist!
During the past several years, behavioral-based interview questions seem to have captured the hiring landscape. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, I’m sure you’ve been asked some of these questions that go like, “Tell me about a time when…” These types of questions are seemingly driven by a desire to understand the candidate’s skill set as it relates to the open position.
In this article, I want to gently challenge this approach. Yes, we need to understand whether the candidate has the requisite skills to perform in the position for which we are hiring. But, is that the most important aspect of a hiring decision? Is it more important to have someone who is a position-content-whiz, or is it more important to have someone who has a good attitude and fits well with your culture?
I’d like to propose that we use culturally-driven hiring interview questions. I believe the content of these questions should be driven by the organization’s vision and mission. I don’t care how technically competent someone is. If they don’t or can’t embrace the organization’s vision, they are, by definition, not going to be a good long-term fit.
Okay! I see the rolling eyes, and I can hear the low murmurs. Yes, I understand that you need a network engineer who is going to work in a darkened room fiddling with equipment and wires all day. You don’t think requiring that person to internalize a lofty corporate vision and mission statement will make any difference in their contribution to the organization.
I get that attitude. I have people tell me all the time, “Do you know how hard it is to find someone to do this crappy/dirty/boring/tedious … job?” Yes, I understand. I was an executive recruiter in one iteration of my career. It isn’t easy.
My question to all of us is, would you rather have someone performing that “crappy” job who has bought in to our vision of feeding hungry children or keeping our subscribers’ Internet service up and running? Can we meet this dual requirement in our recruiting?
Whether you run a business, a strategic business unit, a department, or you’re an HR person charged with hiring people for all of the above, I want to leave you with a final thought.
I would hire someone who has a great attitude with the potential for fitting into my culture over someone who has a great position-based skill set. Commitment to vision, mission and culture trumps all other considerations.