Adapted from Jeff Haden‘s July 18th, 2012 article found at INC.com
When interviewing, just start from the beginning of the candidate’s work history and work your way through each subsequent job. Move quickly, and don’t ask for detail. And don’t ask follow-up questions, at least not yet.
Go through each job and ask the same three questions:
1. How did you find out about the job?
- Job boards, general postings, online listings, job fairs–most people find their first few jobs that way, so that’s certainly not a red flag. But a candidate who continues to find each successive job from general postings probably hasn’t figured out what he or she wants to do–and where he or she would like to do it. He or she is just looking for a job; often, any job. And that probably means he or she isn’t particularly eager to work for you. He or she just wants a job. Yours will do–until something else comes along.
- “Plus, by the time you get to Job Three, Four, or Five in your career, and you haven’t been pulled into a job by someone you previously worked for, that’s a red flag,” Younger says. “That shows you didn’t build relationships, develop trust, and show a level of competence that made someone go out of their way to bring you into their organization.”
2. What did you like about the job before you started?
- In time, interviewees should describe the reason they took a particular job for more specific reasons than “great opportunity,” “chance to learn about the industry,” or “next step in my career.”
- Great employees know the kind of environment they will thrive in, and they know the type of work that motivates and challenges them–and not only can they describe it, they actively seek it.
3. Why did you leave?
- Sometimes people leave for a better opportunity. Sometimes they leave for more money. Often, though, they leave because an employer is too demanding. Or the employee doesn’t get along with his or her boss. Or the employee doesn’t get along with co-workers. (When that is the case, don’t be judgmental. Resist the temptation to ask for detail. Hang on to follow-ups. Stick to the rhythm of the three questions. That makes it natural for candidates to be more open and candid. Stories will come out in the conversation naturally.)
Finally, follow up on patterns that concern you.
“It’s a quick way to get to get to the heart of a candidate’s sense of teamwork and responsibility,” Younger says. “Some people never take ownership and always see problems as someone else’s problem. And some candidates have consistently had problems with their bosses–which means they’ll also have issues with you.”