Monday, May 22, 2017

Slice of Work #15 — What Companies Look for in People in Interviews?

There are many schools of thought of as to what is the best way to interview a candidate. People conduct several tests that get them to the final rounds. Stress interviews, case studies, the works are thrown at candidates and finally when they are on the job, one discovers that there is a gap. The candidates have their own expectations and finally it ends in a separation, and often times it is the candidate quitting the company not the firm asking the person to leave.

So, what is the magic sauce of finding the right person? Let me start by saying that there are no perfect candidates. Only ones who come close. Beyond the usual list of education, experience and a suitable fit for the role, I look for a number of behavioral traits as well. And, this starts with a good culture fit.

I look for people with good energy and drive. Some people are the extroverts and some are introverts and both have energy and drive that one has to discover in the interview process. Personally I have a bias for people with a firm hand shake. It makes me more comfortable knowing the person is confident. I don’t hold it against them if they don’t. I ask for their war stories of their of success in the past two years of something that they have done that beat all odds and made them succeed and feel on top of the world. I believe that it gets the best out of an applicant.

Through their narrative, I discover their inner drive and their sense of achievement orientation. I also look for good communication skills. Are they articulate and clear? Not just a lot of English, but simplicity in getting to the point. Something they say that gets me glued, the effectiveness. Through gentle questioning, I gauge their sense of decision making and their focus on execution, as that is most important in our world. Through their enunciation, I look for the sense of teaming and their commitment to the task on hand. I also look at the body language of the candidates and notice the way they sit and speak, to check if they are comfortable in the interview. And do they carry conviction?

I believe that interviewers need to be far more prepared than the applicants. Many times I set aside some time before I meet people as I want to be mindful of the situation. It is as important for me as for the applicant. Does not happen all the time, but I sincerely try. Years ago, when I was interviewed I recollect a boss of mine who interviewed me took great care of all of us who came to his firm. He was so courteous that we all wondered if he was just a handyman about the place. Came to know later he was the biggest boss around. It taught us all a lesson.

Of the best candidates I have selected in my career, I have found that apart from all the above, I have looked for passion. And this is a quality that has never failed me. I have always stood by my decision to hire a candidate who had this element, I have found that they shine in organizations, each time, every time. Lastly, I look for someone who apart from the above has a sense of humor and is positive. Now, as you can see, it is a lot to ask of someone to watch out for in candidates!

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