Source | LinkedIn : By David G. Rettig
The training offered to managers on interviewing is lackluster. Typically, HR sits you down and gives you a list of questions that you can’t legally ask. At some very progressive companies, you might get training on their interview philosophy du jour (behavioral, technical, group, etc…) and any resources (blind skills/personality testing) that is available. Here’s the problem that I’ve run into: all of those types of interviews have answers.
Any interviewing candidate worth their salt will Google your company, look on Glassdoor to read the interview questions that other interview candidates have faced, and read how to answer them. Take the standard opener: “Tell me about yourself.” Google has 6.7 million results for the search “Tell me about yourself interview question”. There are literal formulas on how to answer: what to say, what not to say, how much personal information to include, how much humor, etc…
How about, “tell me about your greatest weakness?” 1.69 million results.
“Do you prefer to work alone or on a team?” Everyone knows how to answer that question. You make some non-committal statement about being flexible, being able to work alone or work with a team, and you like both. Only a moron would say, “I hate working on a team” or “I can’t work alone.” This question has an answer.
What are you going to learn that isn’t a recitation of some article that the interviewee read?
I like to ask interview questions that don’t have answers.
Three (Types of) Questions That Don’t Have (Right) Answers
First, make both choice valid.
Instead of asking “Do you prefer to work alone or on a team,” I say “Sometimes I work best alone and sometimes I work best in a team. When do you like to work with a team and when do you like to work alone?”
By opening with the statement, I’ve acknowledged that both answers are OK, I just want to know when they work best in these situations. This forces them to be more honest. If they say, “I like to work in a group when it’s an important project” that says one thing about them. If they say, “I like to work alone when it’s an important project” that says something entirely different. You just need to listen and figure out what they mean.
Another question I ask: “Some people learn best by reading, some by watching a youtube or video, some in a classroom, some by one-on-one instruction, and some by working with their hands. We all learn differently. How do you learn best?”
Again, I’ve made all the choices valid. I’ve given the candidate permission to answer honestly. What I’m listening for: “do they know themselves?”, “do they know how they learn?”, and “does how they learn match how we plan on training them in the role?” If a candidate doesn’t know how they learn best, they may not be learners. I like people that pursue self-improvement opportunities. Those people can tell me how they learn best, because they’ve done it. I also want to make sure that their learning methodology aligns with my organization philosophy. If my company doesn’t send people to classes, but they learn best in classes, they might be a bad fit. If I’m super busy and can’t do one-on-one time, but they learn best with one-on-one time, they might be a bad fit.