Hiring Wisdom: Three Little Words That Are Interview Game-Changers

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Here are some commonplace interview questions:

  • What attracted you to this job?
  • What did you like best and least about your last job?
  • What do you know about our company and industry?

These kinds of questions are likely to get you rehearsed answers rather than the information you’re really looking for — what motivates the applicant, how they persevere in the face of difficulties, and how the challenges they’ve faced have shaped their thinking and behavior.

Three words that will make a difference

Now, look back over the questions above and rephrase each to start with “Tell me about…” Do you get a sense of how much more information the applicant would volunteer if you put your questions this way?

Would you answer the following two questions differently?

  1. What’s the biggest workplace fiasco you’ve ever been involved in?
  2. Tell me about the biggest workplace fiasco you’ve ever been involved in.

From an inquisition to a conversation

You can switch things up too, for example, by recasting your questions like this: “Everyone’s been involved in some kind of workplace fiasco at one time or another, tell me about one you’ve been in the middle of.

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Tell me about” also changes the vibe of the interview from an inquisition to a conversation, which is great because relaxed people tend to be much more open, honest, and forthcoming than those who feel they are in the hot seat.

Give it a try and see if these three little, game-changing words — “Tell me about” — don’t get you more information in less time and put you on the fast track to better hiring decisions.

This was originally published in the March 2014 Humetrics Hiring Hints newsletter.

Mel Kleiman, CSP, is an internationally-known authority on recruiting, selecting, and hiring hourly employees. He has been the president of Humetrics since 1976 and has over 30 years of practical experience, research, consulting and professional speaking work to his credit. Contact him at mkleiman@humetrics.com.

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