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How to hone your eye for talent in the interview process

By: Grant King - IndustrySearch Writer
30 March, 2015

Job interviews, they make or break careers; they can be the beginning of dreams and the stuff of nightmares. Yet they are an essential cog in the business machine, generating the next big break for some and the next rising star for others.

As a manager, interviewing potential employees is as vital as picking the right products for your market or the right components for your factory. It's shopping for talent and you have to be talented enough to spot that shining light even if it only flickers the merest hint of latent genius for a moment. Here then are a few ways to hone your talent spotting skills.

Set the right trap

When interviewing people for a specific position, you have certain qualities in mind. Your job as an interviewer is to bring those qualities to the surface (assuming the candidate actually has them.) How do you do that? It's all in the questions you ask. The right questions can give profound insights into a candidate's commitment, passion and determination to succeed, not to mention their ability to solve problems on the spot.

You already know the other stuff – experience, qualifications, previous employment – from their resume. You know what they are and you're keen to employ them as a result. Now you just need to know who they are. In other words, you want to like them.

Try the Branson brand of interviewing

While Richard Branson might seem to have built his Virgin brand and enviable empire on his own prowess and personality, much of his success is through choosing the right people. And as he says, while a good CV is significant, the single most important thing to consider is 'personality fit'.

Will their sense of humour and general demeanour dovetail with your company culture? His favourite interview question – what didn't you get a chance to include on your resume? Not only does such a question catch candidates off guard, it encourages some quick left field thinking and even humorous honesty. Unsurprisingly Branson has also opened interviews by asking applicants to tell him a joke.

Try some tested testers

Here are some tried and true interview questions that delve deeper into a candidate's psyche and separate the roses from the thorns. Why did you initially find this job interesting? Generic, waffling answer – bad fit. Detailed, enthusiastic answer that indicates research into your company – good fit. How much money would you leave us for? A great job is worth more than money – great fit. Triple the salary – okay fit. Less than double – bad fit.

How do you pick up the slack if a co-worker can't finish a task? Do it myself – great fit. Remind the co-worker tomorrow – bad fit.

Do you have any questions about the company? Interesting question suggesting intimate research – great fit. Generic question – bad fit.

Whatever you ask, ask this

When in your life have you been so passionately focused on an activity that you lost track of time and what were you doing? No question will invoke a more telling insight as to what makes your candidate tick emotionally than this.

Watch for warning signs

In and around the answers to this insightful questioning, keep your eye out for throwaway lines that can be anything but. For example, a currently employed candidate who says they can start tomorrow (without proper notice to their current employers) may have professionalism issues – or may not even have the job they say they do.

And one last thing: watch for post-interview follow up. If nothing comes in the way of emailed or phoned reconfirmation of interest, there may be no real interest at all.

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