The evolution of interview techniques have come a long way over the last few decades, what I've seen most recently is the common use of the STAR interview questions. Situation, Task, Action and Result, sounds logical right?
Ask a set of questions following the STAR technique and bingo!! If the candidate follows the bouncing ball you've got yourself a perfect new employee, HR is happy because they've been able to tick the box and if it all goes pear shaped then everyone points and says, 'hey we followed the STAR technique, there isn't much more we could have done'. What an absolute waste of time for any business big or small, more to the point you may well have let that perfect employee slip through your fingers because they didn’t fit into the neat little box which is a scripted interview.
I believe those people that point at the STAR technique and blame the process have got it so very wrong, this is the typical attitude of 'all care and no responsibility' and it's quite easy to hide behind a process and blame it for the failings of a newly hired employee. I myself have gone through this interview process several times and found it to be dry and stifling in a sense of, it doesn’t really allow the person to shine through. Who is this person and how will they fit into your new team, new business or fit in with your customers for that matter and finally the taboo topic of, do you as the hiring manager even like this person?
When you're stuck with a script to satisfy HR policy and the questions generally begin with 'Tell me about a time when' or 'Give me an example of’, then you are solely relying on situation responses and it can be hard to tell if that candidate is genuine or is well practised at this type of interview technique.
Personally I would much rather hire someone that shows raw honesty, someone who can be brave enough to admit they've previously failed however learnt from that failure and someone that shows authenticity in their answers, someone how hasn’t gone through the STAR technique several time and is pre-prepared to respond to the scripted questions with scripted answers.
For me the ideal way to qualify a candidate is to have a conversation, speak to them about who they are, what led them to this point, pretty much anything that will allow you to carry a conversation. Of course there will be some form of discussion around skills and experience, that’s a given, but if you treat the interview like it’s a friendly conversation then I genuinely believe you will get a lot more out of it than running with a script.
Here's a real life example, I once ran a round of interviews within a company I had previously worked for and I needed 8 new starters to fill a void left by a restructure. The internal advertisement went out and sure enough more than 20 people applied, all with similar skills, and our company used the STAR technique so of course these candidates were getting prepared mentally to answer to the script style interview questions.
One by one the candidates walked through the door, and I decided to take a different approach, once they sat down I'd grab my STAR questionnaire, turn it face down on the table and tell them 'we're not going to run by the STAR technique today'. I had some interesting reactions, mostly from the HR rep who looked like a startled deer in headlights.
The candidates in the most had a look of absolute relief on their faces, their shoulders relaxed as they were given permission to be themselves. Needless to say, I found the 8 people I needed through conversation, getting to know them somewhat and hearing real responses to questions that were interwoven into the conversation we having.
I did butt heads with the HR Manager about my unorthodox approach however 2 years later, 6 of those 8 people I chose to hire have moved onto senior roles within the same organisation and are flourishing, perhaps I got lucky as a leader but I think it had more to do with the amazing humans I chose to hire by heading way off the HR reservation.
I’d encourage you to run a round of interviews without a script in hand and treat it as a conversation with a total stranger, and just see what the difference is in what you get to know about that person in the short time you have with them.
You may be surprised at the result.
EVELYN'S STORY Evelyn Garlaounis, mum wife and the founder and owner of KALÒN SNEAKERS, she has been an active sneaker head for years and is passionate about creating sneakers which are stylish, functional and are not stereotyped by gender. Ev started out as a check-out chick at a major [...]