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Now, Ask Some Meaningful Interview Questions

The most successful companies hire people whose values align with the organization's culture. Face it: finding the specific job function skills you need is one thing, but people who fit your culture is critical to retaining your new hires. That's why the interview questions you ask are important, because each applicant's answers will provide an indication as to how that person will fit into your organization. The following examples will help you determine whether the candidate is the right fit:

Why are you really leaving your current job? Since their friends advise them to avoid "burning any bridges," most job applicants spin their reasons for looking, listing issues like pay, promotion opportunities, or additional benefits. In fact, information garnered from exit interviews is so irrelevant, some companies postpone exit surveys for six months after employees have said farewell. After several months, employees are less emotional, because enough time has elapsed for them to weigh objectively their former situations and experiences against their new jobs. Less reliant on positive references from their former employers, they are free to answer honestly when questioned about the reasons for their departure. Make sure candidates understand that your reason for asking is to help them avoid jumping from the frying pan into the fire. For instance, candidates might hesitate to say that their current employers require too many hours. Only by being open and honest can they avoid leaving for a company that requires even more face time.

At your current job, do you get to do what you do best every day? Gallop asked 1.7 million workers in 101 companies from sixty-three countries that question. Only 20 percent strongly agreed that they got to use their best talents. Odds are your candidates have skills their present employers are not exploiting. If you strive to match employees with jobs in which they can succeed and excel, you will recognize--and capitalize on--the best in others.

Tell me a story that illustrates your current organization's values. Communication is most effective when we speak to the emotional, as well as the intellectual, region of our listeners' minds, and stories are a potent way to reach our listeners' emotions. Asking candidates to relate stories that exemplify their organization's principles gives you a preview of how they communicate, as well as how passionate they are about their company's values.

When you disagree with your boss, what do you do? Employees who disagree with you, and risk telling you so, can introduce new perspectives, raise provocative questions, or bring attention to unforeseen problems. You undoubtedly have enough employees who refrain from challenging the status quo and fritter away their insights while swapping lunchroom grievances with their hapless coworkers. You want candidates who express a willingness to question conventional wisdom and who refuse to assume that every outcome is a foregone conclusion. Find yourself some mavericks.

Tell me about your most recent failure. No, this is not a weasel way to phrase the "What are your weaknesses" question. People venturing outside their comfort zones and seeking risks will fail a significant portion of the time. Suffice it to say, if your candidates are not failing, they are probably not taking enough risks. When employees are afraid to fail, they are afraid to try. On the other hand, experienced risk seekers, having tried, failed, and returned to try again, are wiser, hardier, more creative, and better qualified to know what--and what not--to try next. Most applicants will struggle to think of an answer to this question; hire immediately anyone who relates a failure from earlier that day.

Replace your standard interview questions with these and watch how easily the employees you hire adapt to your organization's culture.
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