5 Creative Interviewing Techniques to Distinguish Top Talent

Interviewing. Hiring managers and candidates both dread it. The hiring manager knows it’s time to bring on another team member because existing employees are already working at capacity, and candidates know they’re looking for a new opportunity to grow and develop their skillset. Unfortunately, neither party may fully know what they may want or need, or, worse yet, they may not know the right questions to ask to determine if it would be a mutually meaningful work engagement (MMWE).

And if your organization is asking more traditional interview questions, it’s possible that the candidates have carefully crafted and rehearsed their answers. After all, there are even guides online telling candidates how to answer the most common interview questions.

So, what can your organization do to make the interview process more efficient, authentic, and informative, thus making sure you’re hiring the right people? Here are our top 5 ways.

[Debating whether to hire a consultant, employee, or contracted leader™? Learn about the value each provides.]

1. Identify how the candidate resolves problems, learns from challenging situations, and interacts with others in the workplace.

One of the easiest and most impactful ways to amp up your interview process is to ask questions that focus more on a candidate’s experiences rather than their qualifications. For example, we especially like asking a candidate to share a professional experience where they didn’t perform as well as they wanted to and what they learned from it. If a candidate is able to answer this question clearly and specifically, it shows that they are self-aware and accountable.

You can also ask other questions that assess a candidate’s awareness, initiative, and sense of clarity. Here’s a few that we tend to ask over and over:

  • What are the three accomplishments of which you are proudest?
  • What are your professional career development goals over the next few years?
  • What did you learn about yourself in your last position?

Keep in mind, these questions are just a starting place. Depending on the needs of your organization, you can modify them as necessary

2. Ask each candidate the same questions to develop a baseline and consistency.

There are two kinds of questions-based interviewing styles: structured and unstructured. When a hiring manager conducts an unstructured interview where the questioning process is not methodical, it’s more challenging to compare candidates’ abilities and aptitudes accurately. There are many ways to make an interview more structured, including pre-developing a list of questions for the interview, using a concise rubric to assess answers and remove bias, and having more than one interviewer in the room taking notes.

Lazlo Bock, Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, strongly advocates for companies using a structured interview style in addition to assessing candidates’ cognitive abilities and developing other metrics. As he explains in this Wired article, a structured interview can explain 26% of an employee’s performance while an unstructured interview only explains 14%. From this alone, it makes sense that Google and other businesses known for attracting top talent utilize this process.

3. Have the candidate complete a personality assessment before the interview.

It’s becoming more common to ask a candidate to take a short personality assessment before either a first or second in-person interview, and for good reason. Personality assessments offer another perspective and can help you understand the candidates you’re interviewing on a deeper level. And if you choose to discuss the results with the candidate, you’ll be able to assess their willingness to acknowledge and address potential areas of weakness. Are they humble and wanting to grow their skill set in a particular area? Or are they defensive? How a candidate responds to this exercise can tell you a lot about how they would receive feedback in a work setting.

Our favorite assessments include Meyer-Briggs, the Clifton StrengthsFinder, DiSC, and Xyte.

4. Consider having the first interview be a group interview.

A few organizations, most notably Teach for America, utilize group interviews in a few different ways to assess how collaborative potential team members are. However, to make sure that the group interview doesn’t feel demeaning to anyone present, it’s important that the candidates know that this is part of the interview process beforehand and feel comfortable asking questions about it. You also want to make sure that each candidate has an opportunity to answer each question without being interrupted.

5. Train your interviewers beforehand so that they know what to look for and how to take notes.

Whether or not your interviewers are all in the same room or if they’re leading one-on-one interviews in separate spaces, training them beforehand is critical. If you’re taking the time to make sure that your questions are all the same, and you’re sending your interviewees links to personality assessments, you don’t want inconsistency in how your interviewers rate candidates’ answers to questions.

Determine what your criteria are and how you will evaluate each of them. The more systematic you can be in developing your interview process, the more successful you will be as well.

For example, you could train your interviewers to ask 2-3 baseline “getting to know you” questions to determine where a person looks when they are recalling information, calculating information, or creating information. Then, perhaps, the next step in your process is to ask a series of 10-12 questions that really examine whether or not a candidate may or may not be a good fit for the job. If the candidate is recalling, calculating, or creating their answer, it gives you an idea (based on the question) whether or not that answer is an honest and authentic one.

Did you like these tips? If so, contact us today to learn how we can help your organization radically transform its HR practices and programs to attract and retain top talent.

3 Ways In-House Therapy Can Improve Your Bottom Line
7 Onboarding Tips That Provide Long-Term ROI