A Wall Street Journal/Harris Interactive study conducted among business school recruiters confirmed that interpersonal skills were one of the most important candidate traits. However, Patricia Schaeffer (staff writer for
Business Know-How) reports that, according to recruiters, graduates of leading management schools expressed undesirable traits such as arrogance and a sense of entitlement during interviews.
Technical skills can be identified using assessment tools. However, short of hiring an individual on a trial basis, how can an employer discern a candidate’s work attitudes and interpersonal abilities? One method is to apply behavioral interview techniques. This type of questioning requires the candidate to provide real examples from their work history.
Three Questions to Analyze in an Interview
- Is the candidate coachable?
A superior candidate can accept feedback and apply it. Examples of questions that address this skill are “Tell me about a time when you received negative feedback; what did you do about it?” or, “Tell me about a time when you had to learn a new skill/role/software; how do you think you handled it?”
- Does the candidate possess emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is a candidate’s ability to affect positive change from the emotional experiences of self and others. A suitable question to determine emotional intelligence is “Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a difficult client/supervisor; how did you handle it?” A great candidate will admit that they are sometimes wrong and will see an issue from the perspective of others.
- Is the candidate motivated?
This may seem an obvious line of enquiry but it can be difficult to accurately discern a candidate’s level of drive. Questions that ask the candidate to describe how they achieved a goal can differentiate a mediocre candidate from an outstanding candidate.
Jeff Haden, ghost writer of four business and investing books that reached #1 on Amazon’s bestseller list and contributor at Inc., recommends asking targeted questions and then continuing with additional questions to draw out a clear picture of the candidate’s behavior. Determine a candidate’s culture fit by asking the preferred work style of the individual. For example, does the person prefer to work independently or as part of a team? What is the candidate’s ideal type of manager?
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