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If hiring is difficult, you may need to change the way you apply

Opinions expressed by australiabusinessblog.com contributors are their own.

We’ve all made mistakes when hiring. We meet a great candidate with the right experience and technical skills. They look great on paper and interview well. We are delighted to make them an offer and bring them on board. Several months later, we wonder where we went wrong or what we missed. They underperform, don’t fit the culture or don’t have the mindset we thought they had.

Most of us are classically trained to focus on a candidate’s work history. We’re told that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, so we ask a lot of “tell me about a time when” questions. Those are not nearly as helpful as getting to know one’s values ​​and belief systems. But because we’re trained to mainly ask ‘what would you do if’ questions, we don’t see our interviewing skills as a possible source of the problem. We consider the situation a fluke and start our hiring process again, likely making the same mistakes.

There’s a simple solution for this. Stop interviewing for what people have done. Start interviewing for who they are. If you’re wondering how to do this, here are several themes and questions to get you started.

Related: Are You Hiring a Cultural Fit? Do you actually want?

1. Ask about mistakes and failures

Great employees openly embrace mistakes and failures because they know they are part of our learning process. Curious employees who want constant development and growth are not afraid to feel uncomfortable or experience struggles. They embrace these things because they know it leads to their own evolution. These employees will be highly coachable. You’ll be able to speak straight and deliver tough messages because these employees are hungry for critical feedback.

Ask questions like, “Tell me about some of your biggest mistakes, failures, or regrets” or “Tell me about a time when you really messed something up. How did you fix it and what did you learn from it?” When people struggle to answer these questions, it’s probably because they either haven’t spent much time thinking about their mistakes, or they lack the self-awareness or humility to even know they’ve made mistakes. These are major red flags – it’s hard to learn from your mistakes if you haven’t spent time on them.

2. Look for signs of humility

Arrogant people find it difficult to admit that they have ever been wrong or are still under construction. Narcissists do not like to be told that they have weaknesses or growth opportunities. It’s much easier to blame others for things that don’t go well and take too much credit for things that do go well.

Ask questions that will expose the egocentric. If your candidate is a leader, ask, “Tell me some things you’ve learned from people who report to you.” Poor leaders do not realize that they can and should learn from those below them, so this will be a difficult question for them to answer. For individual contributors, asking to talk about things they’ve learned from colleagues will show how much respect they have for peers at the same level or that they only respect those in authority. Saying, “Tell me about a time you disappointed someone or let down a teammate” is a good way to know if your candidate is taking responsibility. Questions: “What do you expect to struggle with the most in this role?” or “What are some weaknesses you are constantly working on?” can help you find out how realistic your candidate is.

Almost everyone who starts a new job at a new organization faces obstacles, but arrogant candidates will have a hard time admitting these things as they will view these admissions as a sign of weakness. People who struggle with humility rarely make good teammates and it’s hard to teach them much because they think they already know everything.

Related: 5 tips for finding the right teammates to grow your business

3. Ask about values ​​and beliefs

Proactive people who are goal-oriented and also aware of their own learning and development are likely to have personal values ​​and beliefs. The best candidates have their own core values ​​and beliefs that align with your company’s values ​​and beliefs, so find out which ones they are. Asking “What are some of your personal values ​​that guide you through life?” is a good way to start. This will help you determine if someone has a vision for the future and charts their own course or is more reactive and just floats along. The latter are unlikely to strengthen themselves, innovate and find their own solutions. They prefer to wait and see what to do.

4. Find out how curious your candidate is

We all want candidates who are serious about learning. Employees who will do this best are those who are already focused on it at home and have created their own personal learning plan. You will learn a lot about your candidate by asking what books they are currently reading or where they are getting new information. You can also ask, “Who do you look up to? Who are your role models? Who are your coaches or mentors?”

Successful people usually easily identify people who have influenced them and actively read or learn new things on a regular basis. Candidates who can’t answer any of these questions probably aren’t very curious about themselves or the world, so you can bet they aren’t very curious about your company’s mission either.

Related: How to Hire the Right Employees

5. Pay attention to what questions they ask

I’m surprised when a candidate doesn’t have any questions at the end of an interview. If hired, they will spend as much time (if not more) on the organization as their family. Serious and curious candidates who want to become top performers will have quality questions. Beware of textbook-sounding questions: designed to impress you or show that they have memorized facts from your website. Sincere and sincere questions about the company culture and direction, the roles and responsibilities of the job or the team environment show an authentic curiosity and interest in what lies ahead.

These are just a few of the many places to start if you want to get better candidates during your application process.


Shreya has been with australiabusinessblog.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider australiabusinessblog.com, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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