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An Interview Hack that Delivers

Your People Leadership: An Interview Hack that Delivers. This is the final post of a three-part series on your People Leadership skills. I hope that some of these unorthodox ideas will help you find the right person for your team or business. To recap, we have thought about the positive ramifications becoming a brilliant People Leader brings. Then we turned the traditional way of advertising for a candidate upside down. 

Let’s reinvent the interview process itself. 

The whole process of interviewing has become such a canned exercise. We all have standard questions. Worse, the smarter candidates have practiced and come in very prepared with such smooth delivery. And frankly, some candidates can be so frustrating. Our questions don’t necessarily yield honest answers. The BS factor can be very high. Some days, the pressures of all the other essential things we have to do completely distract us in the interview.  

And we are the boss. Responsible for hiring the best we can find. So head down, we keep digging through.  


We might be the boss. However, we are not responsible for doing all the digging. We are responsible for approving the hire of the best we can find.

More than 20 years ago, I decided to change the way I interviewed. The truth was this. I was frustrated, bored, lazy, fed up and hated the actual results we generally got.   

So to make MY life more comfortable, I painted a pretty picture. I told my team I wanted their help in ensuring we hired the best. That I wanted them involved in the process and that I trusted them to make the right decisions for all of us.  

Did I paint a complete picture of the situation? No. I knew I wanted to see some massive positive change. I had no idea if my team could deliver. I went with blind faith.

One more thing. The people on my team had no more than high school in terms of education. For some, English was not the first language. And no one had ever hired anyone before. I knew I was taking a huge gamble because I had no idea whether it would work.  

Privately, I did have moments of second-guessing my decision. Publicly, I kept a smile pasted on my face and maintained high levels of enthusiasm.

The results of my first experiment were outstanding. So much so, I never went back to the old ways. In short, it showed me the power of releasing the untapped potential of a team. It ’empowered and engaged’ beyond my wildest imagination. And it did what it was supposed to do. It ALWAYS found our best hire.

Here’s a bit of how we did it.  

Anyone who worked beside the vacant or new position was allowed to be part of the hiring process. My reasoning was, peers have a much better sense of fit within the work environment. Peers can get to the essence of the person faster. And interviewing with one’s peers drops the usual BS and canned responses because there is no requirement to impress.  

Guidelines, not directives, were established upfront. I let the team decide how best they would conduct the interviews, what kinds of questions were on or off the table, what values were necessary, what values were nice to have. The only thing I did was show them how to design a grid to keep score of the individual response, rate each person and then rank all the candidates.

Honesty during the interview was paramount. I gave my team permission to talk about whatever it was they loved and hated about the company, their jobs and me. My reasoning was if they were honest with the candidate, the candidate would be more genuine and forthcoming.     

The team determined if the experience the candidate brought was sufficient. The team determined if the personality and values matched with our culture. The group decided if working with the candidate would be a good experience. And then, the group presented me with the top three candidates.  

To those three candidates, I asked three questions. Do you have any remaining unanswered questions? When you are looking at every position, what motivates you to ‘go for it’? What do you personally see you can get out of this position/working with us to move closer to your own big goal? I set the time length for my piece of the process at 2 hours. It never mattered whether I got 20 minutes or 2 hours with the person.  

I was there to listen to them.

Forever after that, I stuck with this process of hiring. My teams always chose the best candidate. My team always exceeded my expectations, and accordingly, my teams (of ordinary people) always produced extraordinary results.  

Charlene Norman
Charlene Normanhttp://www.bulletproofconsulting.ca
Charlene Norman is a Partner with the Bad Wolf Community. This is a global community of thought leaders, CSuite Leaders, business owners and those who serve them. All are dedicated to sharing best practices, experiences and ideas for the issues relating to People and Technology. www.badwolfcommunity.com Connect with Charlene on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/canorman/

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