Recently I examined, “Does Job History Matter?” People often place too much weight on job history. To break out of the corrosive recruiting habit of job history over capabilities and cultural fit, here are some conversation starters to consider when speaking with candidates:
- 1. What contributions or projects are you most proud of? What role did you play within these? Find out what successes they had and why. What obstacles did they encounter, and how they got around them. Where did they fail, and what did they learn? When you focus on someone’s past contributions, you’re discussing what value they’ve added. You’re giving the person the opportunity to showcase their greatest accomplishments. Interviews are nerve-wracking. A candidate knows they are being judged and evaluated, which can lead to defensive behaviors and answers tailored to what they think we want to hear. The focus on positive contributions keeps the conversation lively and helps to alleviate the candidate’s nerves. In an open and safe environment, you get answers and behaviors that better represent a candidate’s capabilities
- 2. What type of culture and environment did your former employers have? When you ask a candidate why they left a former employer, automatically the person feels judged and defenses are raised. Instead, when you focus on previous company cultures, you’re encouraging the candidate to paint a picture for you. You’re inviting them to share a story. It shows the candidate that you’re willing to listen without judgment and work together to identify a better opportunity. You’re no longer a gate-keeper to the next round of interviews, but a trusted partner willing to help. This relationship is also useful when providing feedback to a candidate.
- 3. What type of environment have you been most successful in? What are you hoping to find here? If you’ve created a safe and open interviewing environment, this question is fantastic because it reveals what the candidate expects of a company. All that’s left to do is connect the dots. Does what the candidate want and need match what the company can offer?
- 4. What are you passionate about? Why are you passionate about your career? These questions are a window into a candidate’s career soul. What we do is a reflection of who we are; what personal mission and values we hold dear. Asking about passion gives you an indication of what motivates the candidate and how they define personal and professional success.
The incredible irony of the company I used to work for and their training process is that they make internal hires based on the exact opposite of how they train recruiters to screen candidates. They look for intangibles in a person that will make them successful in the environment they’ve created; competitive, goal-driven, success-hungry, and aggressive. They’re brilliant at understanding their internal culture, and uncompromisingly focused on preserving it. They also happen to be one of the most successful and profitable staffing and recruiting companies in the world. Coincidence? The trick to ignoring job history is having a clear understanding of what your company stands for; what values, morals, ethics, and characteristics are celebrated. Then, simply play match-maker.
Don’t let job history stop you from hiring your requisition sole-mate. Your company will thank you for it.
With an educational background in entrepreneurship, Travis Baker’s views tend to build from a broader business perspective. Born in 1985, he’s a true millennial. He believes we’re all citizens of a global community, and we have a shared responsibility to society. His experience as both an agency and corporate talent acquisition professional has taught him that people are the real drivers of business.
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