Top 5 Questions to ask when hiring

It is absolutely frustrating when the time, money and effort spent to attract the limited pool of talents went to waste shortly after they joined your company. It is even more devastating when your employees with the highest potential leave for a competitor when you had succession in mind for them.

How do HR professionals get it right? Is there a way we can minimise the risks and maximise the results? Is there a science or an art to getting the right people and getting the best out of those already with you?

Here are five questions to ask yourself:

Question 1: How well do you know the person?

Everyone has an X-factor. By paying attention to the job seeker or the employee, we can observe traits that will either make him an asset or a liability to the company. People are different, but predictably different. By a careful observation of the personality traits, we can predict if this is a good candidate for the job or that staff can be further developed within the company. A variety of personality profiling tools like DISC, PeopleKeys or temperament sorters can help the HR professional reduce the risk of getting or developing the wrong people.

Question 2: How is the person like in a team?

Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, argued that the highest state of our development is at the level of interdependence. It is about working and collaborating with people synergistically.

Well-constructed work teams produce results and have a flow of energy and ideas that are easy to see. For a team to have life, and for tasks to be accomplished, proper positioning of each team member is critical. Knowing the team style make-up of a job candidate or your current employee is key. We found that the preferred team style of each person makes all the difference for an organisation. Some are better at strategising, others more analytical and yet others make the dreams reality. The company must therefore be crystal clear as to the desired composition of the team(s) it wants to have and work towards it.

Question 3: What makes the person tick?

Although the values that drive people’s personality are hidden under the surface, they are a huge part of who we are. Our values are the hidden motivators that determine our thoughts, decisions, beliefs and attitudes. When we interview the job seeker or have coaching sessions with our employees, we must understand what makes the person tick. Is it a deep sense of justice or loyalty? Is it a need for freedom to make decisions? Knowing the internal wiring of the person will help us determine who to hire or talent manage.

For example, a person with high on justice as a value, is likely to say:

  • “It doesn't matter if things are equal, as long as a "win-win" situation exists.”

  • “It is crucial to me that I have a positive impact on the world around me.”

This person may see work social occupations or organisations which believe strongly in a cause as a place in which they realize their potential.

Question 4: Who fits the industry requirement?

Every industry is different. Singapore Airlines hires those who can wow the customers with excellent service; Apple Computers is all the rage with innovative and creative people and the tax department looks for highly meticulous workers who are number crunchers. Knowing the standard industry benchmark will help us get the best people and retain and develop the right ones. Information gleaned from such benchmarks will match the competence and objectives of the people you have or seek to recruit.

Question 5: How can I interview better?

Interviewers across the globe are moving away from the traditional questions of ‘Tell me your strengths and weaknesses’ or ‘Share with me your job history?’. Increasingly, interviewers have been seen to gravitate towards competency-based interview techniques. When the company is clear about what kinds of skills are needed for a specific job, interview questions are designed to bring out these qualities from the job seeker or current staff’s past experiences.

A fine example is using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Results) structure. You can ask the job seeker or current staff to share about a specific job situation, what task did the person do and how was it done and what results and outcomes were achieved.

Answering these five questions thoroughly can help your company get the right people and get the best out of your people. When we overlay the information we obtain from the five questions into a holistic picture of the person in mind, we can save time and money for employee selection, retain our top performers, improve the morale, job satisfaction, teamwork and productivity. By combining the science of personality, motivations and team styles and the art of competence-based interviews, you increase your company’s success and future significantly.

- Ian Tan, Founder and Managing Director of Lifeskills Resources Pte. Ltd -