Friday, September 12, 2014

Personality-based interviewing works for both sides

Have you ever watched ESPN's features on athletes? If you haven’t, you are missing out. If you have, you may have a good idea of what a job interview with me would be like. Of course that is without the television cameras, film crews, and an inspirational story or background that I will be asking questions about.

ESPN’s method for encouraging and gathering information from their subjects hands down should be a model for how an employer should do an interview. This isn’t a concept that is really hard to grasp, so I am going to encourage a little bit of thought on this one.

Job seekers, I want you to imagine a job interview in which you can expect to be interviewed as an individual -- meaning getting to know you as a person -- about your professional experience.

Employers, I want you to think about how you can do that by looking beyond the typical “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” questions.

Before we completely demolish the concept of nice, structured, streamlined interview questions that solely focus on nitpicking a resume, sprinkled with a behavioral question or two, it’s important to remember that interview questions should be a custom fit for each company, and really each job.

However, doesn’t a job go beyond why a person is interested and how a candidate responded to a similar job-related situation previously? Of course it does! And that is why the concept of personality-based interview questions and approaches are becoming crucial to the interview process.

Personality-based questions are designed to find out more about the candidate on a personal level. Candidates are posed with a question that in theory should allow the interviewer to introspectively assess personal attributes, characteristics and goals, to name a few. This is important for a number of reasons (not including finding new work buddies) but foundationally allows an employer to determine if the candidate is the right personality fit. In turn, personality fit is crucial to a candidate being successful in his or her job and being able to assimilate into company culture.

Additionally, these questions can at times be a conversation “ice-breaker” – which leads to the candidate feeling more comfortable in responding to future questions by the interviewer. In turn, this allows in the interview to become more or less of a dialogue between interviewer and interviewee, allowing the interviewee to feel more at ease with the process (and to be more open with responses opposed to carefully “scripting” responses geared towards the perceived “right” answer.)

The great news is that these questions aren’t hard to create. One personality based question I ask in interviews is, “If you could have any job in the world, without any boundaries, what would it be?” I have heard everything from health inspector to sitting on the beach with a margarita – after winning the lottery of course. Both responses were exactly what I was looking for and gave me insight into each candidate.

Overall, employers need to get creative in finding the right people for the job, not a person. Personality-based interviews allow companies to go beyond the resume to get a well-rounded view of a candidate.
Monica Bitrick is the CEO of Bitrick Consulting Group, a human resources company in Idaho Falls.