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Interviewing Top Talent? Here are 5 Things to Listen for in Their Answers.

When you’re interviewing an outstanding candidate, you know they have the skills and experience needed to flourish in the position. The purpose of the interview is to identify the candidate who also offers the best personality and culture fit with your organization.

When interviewing top talent, listen for these five qualities in their answers to find the “best of the bunch” for your company:

  1. A reflection on his or her career. Top candidates should demonstrate an awareness of the mark they’ve left on other organizations and the ways in which their work is best known or evaluated by their peers. Asking questions like “What are you known for in your field?” can help elicit these answers. They may also arise in response to behavioral interview questions like “tell us about a time you made a real difference in your organization.”
  2. Self-awareness regarding the candidate’s work and interactions with others. Questions like “what’s your biggest weakness?” or “tell me about a time you failed” are intended to probe a candidate’s self-awareness. But with top candidates, it’s equally valuable to listen carefully when they talk about how they worked through a project or solved a problem, even if they aren’t focusing on mistakes or setbacks. A candidate who demonstrates a clear perception of his or her strengths, weaknesses, and motivations will perform better than one who does not.
  3. A portrait of his or her ideal supervisor. Most top performers leave their previous jobs because of a personality conflict with their boss, not because they don’t enjoy or cannot do the work. To ensure a top candidate fits well into your organization, you’ll need to make sure you can match them with a supervisor that fits their work style and personality. Asking a candidate to describe the best boss they ever had (or the best boss they can imagine) will help you ensure this “match” happens – or eliminate candidates whom you can’t “match.”
  4. What’s most important to the candidate in making his or her next career move? While you can simply ask this as a question, many candidates will respond in terms of the company’s overall values and mission, instead of getting down to specifics. Other ways to approach this question include asking about a job in which the candidate wasn’t quite the right fit. Why? What happened? The response will also give you insight into how the candidate handles conflict.
  5. Which environments support the candidate’s best work – or discourage it. Asked as a follow-up question to one about previous ill-fitting workplaces or the candidate’s ideal workplace, the question “in what type of environment do you do your best work?” will tell you a great deal about the candidate’s potential “fit”: If the candidate doesn’t describe your company’s culture, they’re not the best candidate for you.

The staffing partners at ExecuTeam focus on connecting our clients with top performers who also offer a great cultural fit. Contact us today to learn more about our Houston staffing services.

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