Better hires = Better results.
Yet, as accounting and finance professionals, we realize that what's on paper doesn't always add up! Every once in a while, a candidate who had all the right experience and gave all the right answers during an interview just doesn't have the success you anticipated. What causes these apparent "superstar" candidates to stumble?
Finding out how a candidate will fit into your corporate culture is nearly as important as technical skill, education and professional background. As competition for positions remains fierce, some candidates are also skilled at giving the "right" answers to popular interview questions. So how do you break through and determine if a candidate is the right fit?
Here are 10 questions that can help you dig a little deeper, and determine if a candidate is a good fit, personality-wise:
- Are you good at saying "No?"
There's a fine balance between an employee who wants to help out the team and chip in wherever possible, and one who is a pushover and takes everything upon his or her back. A candidate who is seated quite close to the middle is typically best suited for success, but depending on your unique culture, you may be looking for someone a little bit to either side.
- How have you handled previous conflicts with co-workers or clients?
Beware of "canned" answers to this question--it's a frequently asked interview question, but when answered truthfully, it can give you helpful insight into a potential employee's personality. If you receive a practiced response, try to ask intuitive follow-up questions to get down to the core of the response. This question can help give you some helpful information about a candidate's ability to handle stress.
- What is your idea of the "perfect" job?
In addition to bringing out some interesting (and wacky) responses, this question can help you gauge whether someone will fit in with your team. If a candidate's idea of a perfect job contains completely unrealistic expectations, it could spell trouble down the line.
- How would your best friend describe you?
It's highly unlikely that a candidate will know what description friends would give; however, the answer to this question can give you insight into how a person wants to be perceived. Asking to talk to the best friend and see how accurate the response is may give you an opportunity to observe body language and potential stress in a candidate as well (you don't have to actually call the friend, but the option is there).
- How do you keep organized?
Avoid asking a close-ended question here. Asking if someone is organized is going to guarantee an answer of yes. Asking how opens up the door to get some interesting answers. A majority of employers will expect employees to use some type of technology or tool (even a notepad) to stay organized. An affirmative response here, with some specific tools, can help you determine if an employee is likely to be reliable and responsible.
- If someone else applying for this job is better than you, what makes them better?
In this case, you're not really looking for a specific answer. This is a pretty rare and challenging question that does a great job of keeping candidates on their toes. It will help you get to the heart of why candidates think they are truly the right fit for the job.
- Read any good books lately?
Besides making useful small talk and putting a candidate at ease, this question can have an interesting impact on how a candidate will fit into your corporate culture. A candidate who answers all industry-specific books might not fit in with a graphic novel crowd. The answers to this question will run the gamut, so have an idea what types of things you're looking for before asking.
- How are you involved in the community?
Be careful how you perceive this question, as you don't ever want to bias a hiring decision based on any political organizations or personal preference. But, an especially busy candidate may not have the time necessary to devote to a particular position. On the flip side, if your organization likes to spend a few work days each year volunteering for a local nonprofit, someone without a sense of social engagement might not be a good personality fit.
- Give me an example of one success and one failure. What factor had the most impact on the result?
All of us should be able to learn from our mistakes and grow. How a candidate answers this question will help you gauge his or her ability to recognize opportunities for growth and continue to evolve.
- How do you stay up to date on the latest industry trends?
This question might be phrased differently depending on your specific area of expertise, but it's a good question to ask. The marketplace, technology, our economy...many industries are changing literally overnight. A candidate who stays up to date on the most important information affecting your business is one who will likely be at the top of the list.