My #1 Interview Question – Tell Me About Yourself…

An interview is a very special time.  It provides the most important opportunity to learn about the person you are interviewing – and determine how effective they will be as a member of your team.

The decisions you make will impact your organization, and will impact an individual’s career.

It’s much too significant an event to just have a casual conversation; it’s also too important to get by with a list of questions that are quickly asked of the candidate.  After all, the goal is not to just understand if they can do this job – you also want to know if they are motivated to do this job, as well as how effectively you can work together.  If an interview is completed without knowing more than just what knowledge and skills the candidate has, consider it a failure!

Great interviewers develop a technique that fits their personality, have a written list of questions they ask (after some time it may be “written in your mind”) and are determined to really learn about the person they are interviewing.  Effective listening is required.  Open-ended questions are most revealing.  Not only do they provide specific information about the candidate’s knowledge and skills, but they also give insight into how the candidate thinks and acts.

Most of us who do a lot of interviewing develop questions that work for us, based upon our communications preferences.  I have found that an entire interview can be built around only a few questions, then responding to the candidate’s replies.  This only works when you know the specific information you want to obtain, and structure follow-up questions that keep the conversation “on track.”

Quickly creating an atmosphere where the process flows smoothly assures a good interview.   In coaching, this is defined as connecting; setting the stage for open communications.  Every interviewer should develop a question that officially “begins the process” and works for their style.  It should set the tone for the entire interview.  From then on, everything should focus on understanding the candidate, and determining if you want them to be part of your organization.

My “game on” question?  Tell me about yourself…..

A candidate’s responses indicate:

  • What’s important (to them)
  • How well they organize thoughts and present them
  • Their communications skills
  • How much preparation they have done for the interview

Their answers lead to the next questions, and begin the journey of understanding how well they “fit” the position.

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