When you're interviewing candidates for management positions in your firm, how much of the time do you spend talking? Business consultant John Featherstone, author of the new book Start Hiring Winners, says that if you're talking for more than 20% of the interview, you're probably not getting the information you need from the candidate.
"Seldom does one learn anything while talking," says Featherstone. "The purpose of the interview is to gather job-related facts. This requires that the candidate talk about 80% of the time."
In his book, Featherstone identifies 24 areas you should explore when interviewing candidates for significant positions. Here are nine of those areas, along with a few samples of his brand of probing, open-ended questions:
The practice of management
- Define "management" for me.
- How would your previous superiors describe your management skills?
- What is your style of management? Can you share an example of how well it has worked for you?
- Tell me about a policy you put in place that generated employee resistance.
- Describe—and give examples of—your self-confidence.
- How do you convince people to want to do what needs to be done?
- How do you assess risk?
- Describe the circumstances where you had to make a decision before you had sufficient facts.
- How did you accomplish your greatest achievement?
- ow are your current or previous employers better off as a result of your having worked there?
- Is delegation worth the risk? Explain, with examples.
- How do you manage a task delegated to a subordinate?
- What was the worst decision you made in the last year. What was its outcome?
Ability/desire to learn
- What periodicals do you currently read?
- What did you learn from your previous superior?
- Tell me about the best plan you prepared, how you implemented it, and what results it achieved.
- How do you decide what elements of a plan to delegate?
Ability to organize
- Help me understand how job descriptions help employees work better.
- What data do you collect to measure progress in your area, and how do you use it?
Many business leaders, priding themselves on their uncanny ability to read human nature, don't prepare adequately for job interviews. Reviewing questions like Featherstone's should demonstrate how much more you can learn—and what better decisions you can make—when you take your interviewing responsibilities more seriously.